Fen habitats are America’s most diverse habitat for vegetation, and many rare plants are found in fens. A fen is a type of wetland formed when water bubbles up from an underlying aquifer via an Artesian well or seep. In the case of Gallagher Fen, the water emerges from a hillside seep because two aquifers intersect nearby increasing the underground water pressure. Since the water is emerging from deep within the earth through limestone gravel dumped by glaciers during the last Ice Age, the water is very alkaline and very cold, about 56 degrees year round.
Although it is a wetland, it is difficult for many plants to absorb the very cold water. So ironically drought-tolerant prairie plants thrive in fen meadows. Many of the plants found in local fens moved into the area when there were glacially fed lakes in Ohio. As the glaciers retreated these plants were unable to tolerate the warmer weather, and they disappeared from Ohio, but pockets of them remained in these scattered fens. Outside of Ohio’s fens you would have to go to northern habitats like northern Michigan or Minnesota to find other representatives of these plant communities.
A boardwalk leads visitors around the edge of Gallagher Fen.
Conkle’s Hollow is a narrow gorge with breathtaking cliffs rising on either side; the cliffs are made of Blackhand sandstone and are quite sheer in places, the taller ones reaching up to 200 feet in height. Seasonal waterfalls flow from the cliffs at many sites, their streams joining to form Pine Creek on the valley floor.
I took this photo while standing on the floating mat of sphagnum moss that makes up Cranberry Bog. I’ve labeled some of the other vegetation that is growing here without the benefit of any dirt.
Previously I’ve pointed out that Jackson Bog and Cedar Bog aren’t really bogs. Now it’s time to look at a nature preserve that really is the bog that it claims to be: Cranberry Bog State Nature Preserve. However it’s not like any other bog in the world since the entire bog is floating in the middle of a lake.
A view of the Nature Center from the boardwalk
Cedar Bog is a state nature preserve that’s managed by the Ohio Historical Society due to its historical significance… or should I say prehistorical significance? There are a number of plants and animals in the preserve that were common in this region at the close of the last Ice Age, but which are now found in cooler, North American climates. Because it is such a unique habitat, in 1941 it was the first nature preserve designated by Ohio. Today it is one of Ohio’s 25 National Natural Landmarks.
Posted in Nature, Southwestern Ohio
Tagged "Cedar Bog", "Champaign County", "Ohio Historical Society", "Wheelchair Accessible", Frogs, Lizards, Park Review, State Nature Preserve, wetland, wildflowers
It had been a good hike so far. During the past several miles, we had enjoyed seeing rocky outcroppings, mature trees, and carpets of ferns. As we climbed a steep hill toward the top of the ridgeline, the trail widened and grew brighter. Distant buzzards soared effortlessly in the bright, blue sky. We found ourselves standing on a rocky cliff. A few hundred feet below, forest stretched out to the horizon. It sounds a bit like the Hocking Hills, doesn’t it? But it wasn’t. It was Christmas Rocks.
View from Jacobs Ladder Trail
Looking from one esker (hill) to another
An esker is a special sort of hill. Eskers develop underneath a glacier, so in Ohio they formed during the last ice age. The sediment that eventually creates an esker starts its life as the sand, gravel and rock deposited on the bottom of a riverbed. However the unusual thing about the associated river is that it flows under great pressure beneath a massive glacier. Instead of having normal riverbanks made of earth, this kind of river flows through a crevasse or icy tunnel at the base of a glacier. Over hundreds, even thousands of years, huge piles of sediment accumulate at the bottom of this subglacial river. When the glacier finally melts, the old riverbed remains as a long mound that rises above the surrounding landscape. To the causal viewer, they look like long, winding hills.
There are three different trail groupings at Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve, but for the longest time we only knew of the main parking lot and the trail head that leads off from there. So at the end of this post there’s a map and directions showing the location of them all. Each heading below begins with letter in parenthesis that corresponds to a marker on that map.
(A) Blackhand Trail, Quarry Rim Trail and Chestnut Trail
There is an old log cabin at the main parking lot across from the main trail.
This cabin is off the main parking lot near the trail head for Blackhand Trail.
This crab spider is waiting for his food to come to him. Because I've put my macro lens a bit too close to his face, he is expressing some alarm by stretching out his arms.
Rockbridge is a small but scenic nature preserve in the Hocking Hills area containing a natural stone arch. It is longest arch of about a dozen stone arches in the state.
Viewing Rockbridge from underneath: there’s a recess cave to the left, and the bridge is to the right.
Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve is a scenic narrow gorge located in Hocking Hills State Park. Two trails are available to hikers. The upper trail is the Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail. This is a spectacular loop trail that follows along the rim of the cliff walls affording a view of the valley and the cliff on the other side. A word of caution: this trail is moderately strenuous and not at all suitable for small children. Enjoy the view, but stay away from the cliff edges! The overall hike is about 2.5 miles and passes several seasonal waterfalls.
The hikers on the cliff to the right are on the rim trail.