Posted in Hiking, Park visit

A.W. Marion State Park in Autumn

A.W. Marion State Park is a 309-acre park in Pickaway County that I described after a previous hike in the spring (see here for description and photos). On October 29th we returned to the park to hike the Hargus Lake Perimeter Trail. We thought that peak fall color had probably passed, but when we arrived we were pleasantly surprised at how colorful the park was. As it turns out there are many maple trees in the park, and many of these were a brilliant red.

Because the water level is lowered for winter, this dock is high and dry.

Continue reading “A.W. Marion State Park in Autumn”

Posted in Hiking, Park review, Southeastern Ohio

Wayne National Forest (Ironton Unit): Morgan Sisters Trail

The Morgan Sisters Trail System is in the northern, central region of the Ironton Unit of Wayne National Forest. It is a little over an hour’s drive northeast of Portsmouth, Ohio. It is comprised of three loop trails. According to the Forest Service, the Coal Branch Loop is 2.34 miles, the Ridge Loop is 1.88 miles, and the Schoolhouse Loop is 4.53 miles. There is a half-mile trail that connects the Morgan Sisters Trail System to the nearby Symmes Creek Trail System.

We went there for an afternoon’s hike in late October, and we restricted ourselves to the Coal Branch Loop and the Ridge Loop. Because we did the two loops as a figure eight, we ended up doubling the middle part of the hike. We also went the wrong way for a short distance at the farthest point of the Ridge Loop trail, so our mileage was greater than the 4.22 miles described at the Forest Service site. We hiked for six miles in all, with an elevation gain of 1077 feet, going from a minimum altitude of 561 feet to a maximum altitude of 1017 feet.

Kenton Lake in Wayne National Forest

Continue reading “Wayne National Forest (Ironton Unit): Morgan Sisters Trail”

Posted in Central Ohio, Hiking, Ohio Industrial History, Park review

Ariel Foundation Park

Ariel-Foundation Park is a 250 acre park owned by the City of Mount Vernon in Ohio. It is operated by the Foundation Park Conservancy. The park is located on a former industrial site that housed the Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company (now PPG).

Rastin Observation Tower is the most prominent feature in the park. A turnstile admits visitors to a spiral staircase to an observation platform 140-feet up. It is open from April 1st to November 15th.

Continue reading “Ariel Foundation Park”

Posted in Hiking, Northwestern Ohio, Park review

Farnsworth Metropark

There are three river metroparks in the Toledo Metropark system, all of which lie along the Maumee River and are connected by the Towpath Trail. As the name suggests, the trail follows along the towpath of the former Miami and Erie Canal; this trail makes up a portion of the blue-blazed Buckeye Trail System. From east to west the three river metroparks are Providence Metropark, Bend View Metropark and Farnsworth Metropark. We decided to explore the Farnsworth Metropark by walking along the Towpath Trail starting near the Roche de Bout shelter in Farnsworth Park and walking eastward toward the Bend View Metropark.

Fisherman along the Maumee River. In the distance is the Ohio Electric Railroad Bridge.

Continue reading “Farnsworth Metropark”

Posted in Hiking, Northeastern Ohio, Ohio Industrial History, Park review

Mill Creek Park: Lanterman’s Mill and Mill Creek Gorge

Mill Creek Park occupies 2,882 acres in Mahoning County. It is a green oasis bordering Mill Creek in the midst of the Youngstown metro-area. Lanterman’s Mill is located within Mill Creek Park. The mill is a fully-operational historic grist mill. Nearby the mill is a waterfall, a covered bridged, and trails that will take you along both sides of the gorge created by the creek. It was a sunny September day when we visited the park, perfect for hiking and seeing the sights.

Lanterman’s Mill.

Continue reading “Mill Creek Park: Lanterman’s Mill and Mill Creek Gorge”

Posted in Northwestern Ohio, Park review

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.

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), photgraphed from the observation deck.

Continue reading “Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve”

Posted in Geology

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.

Balanced Rock – created by differential erosion

Continue reading “Earth Science Resources for Homeschoolers in Ohio’s Parks & Preserves”

Posted in Bugs, Nature

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.

Tulip Tree Silkmoth (Callosamia angulifera); a more normal-sized moth appears to its right.

Continue reading “Mothapalooza 2016: Learning about moths”

Posted in Flowers, Nature

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.

Native Orchids

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.

Yellow-fringed orchid (Platanthera-ciliaris), photographed at Shawnee State Forest

Continue reading “Summer Wildflowers 2016”