Autumn Visit to Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve

One of my favorite places to enjoy the fall colors in central Ohio is Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve in Fairfield County. My friend, Connie, and I went hiking there Tuesday. The best view is at the cliff on the Jacob's Ladder Trail. Here's what it was like. Besides checking out the view from the cliff, we hiked the length of both trails there. Here are a few additional photos. The ferns above stay green all winter. Ohio's settlers used these Read more ➜

Mountain Laurel in Bloom at Shallenberger

Mountain laurel is also known as calico bush or spoonwood. As a mature shrub this evergreen plant can grow to be anywhere between 9.8 feet to 29.5 feet in height (3 m to 9 m). It is native to the eastern United States, and it prefers to grow on rocky cliffs in acidic soil. Although it is a member of the blueberry family, no part of the plant is safe to eat. Even the pollen is poisonous which means that honey made from its pollen is also toxic. Besides being potentially lethal to humans, it is also Read more ➜

Fairfield County: Overview of Hiking Trails

Fairfield County is not nearly as famous a venue for outdoor activity as it's neighbor Hocking County. But the fact is, there are some great places to go hiking there. State Nature Preserves Wahkeena Wahkeena Nature Preserve Wahkeena Preserve is located on the southeast edge of the county, near the border of Hocking County. It features 2 miles of hilly trails, a short boardwalk through a marsh, and a nature center with a knowledgeable and friendly staff. Dogs are not permitted. Read more ➜

Lockville Park

Lockville Park is a 6 acre park in Fairfield County containing the ruins of three locks from what was once the Ohio & Erie Canal. The park also has a covered bridge that was constructed in 1888. If you look at a map of Ohio, you'll see Lake Erie on the northern edge. The irregular southern edge is formed by the Ohio River. The Ohio River feeds into the Mississippi River which flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Both the Ohio River and Lake Erie provided convenient water transportation Read more ➜

Rock Mill

Rock Mill is a gristmill that was built in 1824 in Fairfield County. It is currently in the process of being restored. (Note: a gristmill grinds corn, wheat, or other grains into flour). We visited Rock Mill this past weekend. Rock Mill Road ends near the mill which is now a small Fairfield County park. The road follows the valley formed by the Hocking River (formerly known as the Hock-Hocking River). At the mill, the river plunges over a falls into a small gorge surrounded by 40-foot Read more ➜

Alley Park

Charles Alley Nature Park is a 300 acre city park in Lancaster. The park features two lakes, a nature center, and six miles of hiking trails. Currently 20 acres are being developed for use as a primitive campsite. We visited Alley Park on a cold, but sunny day in mid-February. The trail head is to the left of the main parking area. Nearby is a picnic shelter, rest rooms, and an informational kiosk. The trail head leads to Lake Loretta passing a rustic cabin on the way. The lake had Read more ➜

Winter’s View from Rising Park

This fall Bob and I visited Rising Park in Lancaster, Ohio. The big attraction there is the view from the top of Mount Pleasant. Both of us wanted to see what the view would look like when blanketed in snow, so we went back to take some more photos a week or so ago. If you look at the top photo you'll see that I was standing behind a safety rail. It was disheartening to see that there were tracks in the snow up to the edge of the cliff. Especially considering Read more ➜

Rising Park: The View from Mount Pleasant

Lancaster, Ohio has a population just under 39,000, and it is the county seat of Fairfield County. It has a municipal park known as "Rising Park." The park offers the normal sort of amenities that you might expect: a pond, picnic tables, playgrounds... things of that nature. But what's unusual about the park is its terrain. Rising 250-foot (76 m) above the surrounding plain is a bluff known as "Mount Pleasant." The bluff is made of highly erosion-resistant Blackhand sandstone. From the top of Mount Read more ➜

Shallenberger Nature Preserve

Twenty one thousand years ago two-thirds of Ohio was covered with a thick layer of ice from the Wisconsin glacier. In what would later be Fairfield County, two adjacent knobs made of Blackhand sandstone successfully resisted this glacial onslaught. Instead of engulfing these knobs, the ice sheet flowed around them on its southward journey that stopped just short of the Hocking Hills. Today they're known as Allen and Ruble knobs, and they're the main attraction of the 88 acre Shallenberger State Nature Read more ➜

Blacklick Woods Metro Park

Blacklick Woods Metro Parks is located in Reynoldsburg, an eastern suburb of Columbus. This 634 acre park has hiking, jogging, and bicycle trails, an abundance of picnic tables and shelters, playgrounds, a golf course, and a nature center. Blacklick Woods was the first of the area Metro Parks, opening in 1948. It's extensive picnic / shelter areas are very popular and likely to be quite busy in good weather. A system of multi-use trails are often filled with strollers, joggers, and Read more ➜