A couple of weeks ago we spent several days at a cabin at Lake Hope. Lake Hope is one of our favorite parks in Ohio. One of the reasons is the great hiking at Lake Hope, the adjacent Zaleski State forest, and many nearby parks and preserves. The other reason is the wonderful Lake Hope Dining Lodge which specializes in slow-cooked barbecued meat and wood-fired pizza.
When Deb and I learned that Ohio’s lodges were reopening our immediate reaction was “Let’s go!”. The lodges reopened on June 5th. We made reservations for Shawnee Lodge starting on June 7th. This was our first big trip away from home since the COVID lockdown commenced in March.
Update (04/03/2020): ODNR announced that they are closing Hocking Hills State Park (all park properties plus Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve) on April 3rd until further notice.
I hope all of our readers are doing well and staying healthy during this global pandemic. Deb and I are both doing fine.
As you know, Governor DeWine issued a stay-at-home order for Ohioans. Per the order, residents are still allowed to go to a park or outdoor space for exercise: “Families will still be able to go outside, including to parks and outdoor spaces that remain open, and take a walk, run, or bike ride but should continue to practice social distancing by remaining 6 feet away from other people. Playgrounds are closed because they pose a high risk of increasing transmission”.
State parks, forests, nature preserves, and wildlife areas are open in Ohio if you are looking to get some outdoor exercise. Most facilities – nature centers, campgrounds, lodges, and dining facilities are closed. You can read more details on the Ohio Dept. of Natural Resources pandemic emergency operations page.
If you are looking for places to go – TrekOhio has a regional guide to Ohio parks organized by county. Be aware that some facilities (playgrounds, lodges, camping, etc.) will be closed dues to the pandemic. Spring is a great time for viewing waterfalls and wildflowers.
The North Bend Rail Trail is a 72 mile long rail trail conveniently located adjacent to West Virginia’s North Bend State Park. The trail is composed of hard-packed dirt and gravel and is a multi-use trail for cyclists, hikers, and riders on horseback. Motor vehicles are not permitted on the trail.
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.