On our recent trip to Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest, we sought to discover if there was a path through the main trails of this state forest leading to the ruins of a 19th century iron mining and refining operations.
We spent a day hiking a series of smaller trails at North Bend State Park in West Virginia. Although the trails were short, they scenic. The trails we hiked include: Giant Tree Trail, Giant Pine Trail, Castle Rock Trail, and the Overlook Trail.
The Wildwood Preserve is a 493 acre park in the Toledo area. The total trail mileage in the park is about 9.4 miles. The trails include a couple of boardwalks, and one trail passes through a covered bridge. A few trails in the park feature unusually sandy soil because this area was once the shoreline of an ancient, glacial lake. The land making up the preserve formerly belonged to the Stranahan family (two brothers in this family founded the Champion Spark Plug Company in 1908). Park officials have preserved a number of buildings from the Stranahan estate, including the Manor House and the Ward Pavilion. A one-room schoolhouse built in 1897, the Oak Grove School, has also been moved onto the preserve property. In addition to buildings, park officials continue to maintain the Ellen Biddle Shipman Gardens that were once part of the estate.
North Bend State Park is a 2,400-acre state park in West Virginia featuring numerous hiking trails, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and easy access to the 72-mile long North Bend Rail Trail. North Bend State Park is located in Cairo, WV, about a 45 minute drive from the Ohio border. The park offers a variety of accommodations including a 29 room lodge with a restaurant, cabins, and camping sites.
Fort Boreman Park is a 12 acre park in Parkersburg, West Virginia. It is the site of a former Civil War fort situated high on a hill-top overlooking the Ohio River.
For those who enjoy hiking by cliffs, outcroppings and caves, Saltpetre Cave State Nature Preserve is a tiny preserve in Hocking County with an abundance of such features. Although it is only 14 acres in size, it contains four significant recess caves. Two of the caves have 8-foot tall ceilings, mouths that are more than 100 feet wide, and chambers which extend back more than 120 feet into the bedrock. Another cave actually consists of three, vertically stacked recess caves. And a final cave has a decent-sized chamber with two smaller openings. The preserve is named after a white mineral deposit, saltpetre (potassium nitrate), which can be seen in patches on some of the cave ceilings.
In mid-August we visited Holden Arboretum to see two new attractions – the Murch Canopy Walk and the Kalberer Emergent Tower. Located in Lake County, Holden Arboretum is the largest publicly-accessible arboretum in the state of Ohio. With 3,600 acres of gardens and forest and over twenty miles of trails there is much to see and do. This article discusses the new canopy walk and the emergent tower. For more information on Holden Arboretum, please see the posts about our earlier visits.
Within the Wildcat Hollow area of the Athens Unit, there is a 15-mile loop trail for backpackers (referred to on signs as the long loop), and a 5-mile loop trail for day hikers (referred to as the short loop). Bob and I have done the short loop hike a couple of times. We went once in the spring, and had a less-than-enjoyable time. The trail was extremely wet and muddy, and I’m referring to a suck-the-hiking-boot-off-of-your-foot kind of muddy. I kept thinking that once we got out of the hollow and onto the ridge, things would improve. But it was pretty much a five-mile slog through the mud.
However, we decided to give it another try when it was drier. So we returned during August of a previous year. The going was much better, and we actually enjoyed ourselves.
Looking for a great place to go hiking in your region of Ohio? I will describe three great places to go hiking in each of five geographic regions of Ohio. In this post I’ve added a fourth hike for southwest Ohio bringing the total to sixteen hikes. All are hikes that Deb and I have completed. Many are favorites that we’ve hiked many times.
Five years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Ten Great Hikes in Ohio” and then a follow-up “Ten More Great Hikes in Ohio”. Since then Deb and I have traveled all over the state and discovered some new and interesting places to hike. We also have some new information about many prior areas where we’ve hiked. This article is an update and replaces the two previous articles.
Among the trails available at Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest, there is one called “Watch Rock.” If you look at the official map, there is a side trail to a “starred” feature that itself is called “Watch Rock”. Since we were unable to find a description of what “Watch Rock” was, we could only guess. We figured it was a rocky promontory overlooking a scenic vista, but of course we didn’t know for sure. To add to the mystery, during a previous hike we reached the end of the Watch Rock trail without ever seeing the side trail. So this spring we decided to give it another try.