Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve
The full name of this preserve is the Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve and National Estuarine Research Reserve. The research center studies the local “estuary,” a word that usually refers to the region where fresh-water in a river mixes with the salt-water of an ocean. However in this case it is referring to a region where the fresh-water of a creek mixes with the fresh-water of Lake Erie.
The preserve is 572 acres in size, and it features hiking trails, an observation deck, and a handicap-accessible visitor center. The site is highly recommended for bird watching. Our hike last September was about 1.8 miles in length, but we didn’t hike every portion of every trail. I’m guessing that the total trail length is between 2 and 2.25 miles.
Earth Science Resources for Homeschoolers in Ohio’s Parks & Preserves
Ohio’s Parks & Preserves offer many excellent educational opportunities for homeschoolers and for parents seeking educational enrichment for their public school students. To locate parks and preserves near you, TrekOhio offers an on-line guide currently listing details of over 900 parks and preserves around the state. The guide is divided into five geographic zones that are listed in the tabs on the top of each of our pages.
In this article I’ll discuss resources for the academic areas of geology, paleontology, and astronomy. If there is sufficient interest, I’ll publish follow ups covering additional academic disciplines.
Mothapalooza 2016: Learning about moths
Mothapalooza is an annual conference sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. As its name suggests, the focus on the conference is on moths. Just like people who go bird-watching are said to go “birding,” people who are on the lookout for moths are said to go “mothing.” The conference is geared both toward the mothing enthusiast and the beginner. Activities included daytime field trips, in-house talks, and night-time moth viewings. Some of the daytime field-trips delved into other topics besides moths. This year Mothapalooza was held at the Shawnee State Park Lodge.
Bob and I had considered going to Mothapalooza the previous year, but when we tried to register a couple months ahead of time, they were already sold out! This just goes to show how popular this event has become. So this year we signed up extra-early. Previous to Mothapalooza Bob and I had attended one other mothing event (described here), so we consider ourselves to be beginners.
Summer Wildflowers 2016
The photos below are a sample of some of the wildflowers we’ve seen in June, July, and August. All were photographed in Ohio.
I had the good fortune of seeing two, new species of native orchid for the first time while we were attending Mothapalooza. Mothapalooza is an annual conference held in Ohio that focuses on moths, but also deals with nature more generally. The most colorful of the two was the Yellow-fringed orchid.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Ledges Trail
The Ledge Trail is located in the Virginia Kendall Unit of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. The trail follows along the sandstone cliffs that make up Ritchie Ledges. The trail map at the kiosk says that the Ledges trail is a 1.8-mile loop. However, I have seen numerous other sites on the web say the trail is 2.2 miles. According to park officials it is a moderately difficult trail to hike. If the loop isn’t enough of a work-out, there are connector trails leading to other, nearby trails, so you can lengthen your hike to suit your available time and physical ability.
Early Summer Evening at Char-Mar Ridge Preserve
Yesterday we went on an early evening walk at Char-Mar Ridge Preserve. We were half-way around the loop trail when we heard a strange sound. It sounded like a fire-breathing dragon (if there were such things) and it was getting closer. I immediately recognized it and we started watching the sky. Deb was ready with her camera as the hot-air balloon flew over still fairly close to the ground. It drifted overhead, firing its burners to gain more altitude. Then it vanished over the tree line, the roar of the burners fading in the distance.
Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve: Robinson Falls
We recently visited Robinson Falls (aka “Corkscrew Falls”) at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve. The waterfall is located off-trail at the preserve, so we obtained a free permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources to visit the falls. Along with the permit, they sent us a map showing the falls, where to park, directions, and preserve rules.
Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve
Last summer we visited two of Ohio’s smallest state nature preserves: Bigelow Cemetery and Smith Cemetery. Within these two preserves are remnants of prairie that once extended over 5% of Ohio. Because both sites were 19th century cemeteries, they were undisturbed by the plowing that converted 99% of this rich, prairie soil into Ohio farmland. Today I will discuss the half-acre Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, and I’ll save the nearby Smith Cemetery State Nature Preserve for a later post. Both preserves are located in Madison County and are remnants of a prairie once known as the Darby Plains.
Hell Hollow Wilderness Area
Hell Hollow Wilderness Area is one of the sites owned and operated by the Lake County park district (Lake Metroparks). It is 783 acres in size, with a total trail length of just 0.65 miles. However, it is nonetheless a strenuous hike due to the 262-step stairway that leads to the base of the ravine in Hell Hollow. On the return-trip that’s an impressive number of steps to climb. Hell Hollow got its name because of how challenging it is to climb out of the ravine. Another Lake County park, Penitentiary Glen, also received its name because of how difficult it is to leave its ravine.