Posted in Central Ohio, Hiking, Park review

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 Preserve.

Glacial ice flowed across the surrounding plain bypassing the sandstone knob you see in the distance.

The parking lot is small and shaded by surrounding trees. A trail head opposite the parking lot entrance beckons you to explore further. The 1.5 mile trail consists of two connected loops, one around Allen Knob and a second that skirts Ruble knob. Side trails lead up the steep slopes to the top of each knob.

At places the hillside was quite steep.
Fortunately there was a staircase when we got near the top of Allen Knob.

The glacier dumped debris (known as moraine) around the knob which eventually developed into a rich soil that’s well-suited for agriculture. In contrast there is a very scant layer of soil on the top of these two knobs, but mountain laurel (Kalmia latifoli) and chestnut oak (Quercus prinus) are able to thrive under these conditions. The richer soil along the forest trail below the knobs supports a more abundant and diverse variety of plants.

There was very little undergrowth on top of Ruble Knob. However unlike Allen Knob, it didn’t have many rocky outcroppings or cliffs.
Bud of Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel blossom

The 240 foot high Allen knob is the more interesting of the two. It has a wide plateau with rocky outcroppings and steep vertical drop-offs.

Looking past a cliff edge on Allen Knob
Rocky outcroppings on the edge of Allen Knob
Twisty trunk of Mountain Laurel

We visited at the end of May. Due to the unseasonably warm weather we have had this year, the mountain laurel was just finishing its blooming season. The surrounding forest was lush and green, but if you’d like a scenic view of the surrounding plains, it might be better to visit before the foliage has emerged or after it has fallen. Spring wildflowers are said to abound here, but to see these you need to arrive at the nature preserve in early spring.

Jiminy Cricket wishes that he was this cute. 😀
Berries of Solomon’s Seal
Wild ginger
A harvestman
Additional Information

  • Address: 2468 Becks Knob Road SW, Lancaster, Ohio 43130
  • Directions: Exit US-33 (south of Lancaster) onto US-22 East. Immediately, turn left onto Beck’s Knob Road for a quarter-mile. The parking lot will be on the right.
  • GPS Coordinates: 39.6913412, -82.6560494
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Fairfield County

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

4 thoughts on “Shallenberger Nature Preserve

    1. Thanks, Sartenada. I think some bugs can be very pretty in their own way (probably everybody thinks that’s true of butterflies). Nonetheless if I were to unexpectedly find a big, strange bug on me, I’d probably shriek like a little girl. 😀

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