Posted in Hiking, Park visit

Autumn Visit to Rock Stalls Natural Sanctuary

It was cool and sunny on Saturday morning so we decided to take a look at fall foliage at Rock Stalls. Rock Stalls is a privately owned nature sanctuary run by Camp Akita. It is open to the public, and we last visited the site in February. It is a box canyon crisscrossed by small streams. There are also several, seasonal waterfalls along the rim.

Deb approaching one of the cliffs

We arrived early Saturday morning at the parking area which was completely empty. The descent to the floor of the canyon was colorful with the foliage slightly past peak color. We followed the loop trail in a counter-clockwise direction.

On my way down toward the box canyon
Fall color past its prime
Leaf litter

We finally arrived at the canyon floor and noticed that the streams had mostly dried up. This made hiking the bottom of the canyon a little easier, but also meant that the wonderful waterfalls we’d last seen in winter, were absent. We explored the canyon enjoying the recess caves, towering cliff walls, and colorful vegetation.

We took a wooden staircase down into the ravine.
Inside the ravine there were mostly evergreen trees (Eastern hemlocks) with a few deciduous trees mixed in.
Near a fissure in the cliff
Inside the fissure
By more cliffs
There had been an icy waterfall in this corner last winters, and icicles clung to the cliffs.
To get out of the ravine without using the stairs you can go up this mound that’s dotted with trees. However the climb out is less steep if you follow the ravine between the cliff to the left and the mound.

In our prior trip, we retraced our steps to exit the canyon. This time we chose to climb out on the opposite side of the canyon from the wooden staircase. To get out we had to get up on the tree-covered mound pictured below. It’s easier to do if you walk down the passageway between the cliff and the mound. You’ll find its less steep there.

In the passageway between the mound and the cliff. Last winter this area was full of icy water.

Once you get onto the mound, you’ll see that it is a ridge that ascends up to the rim of the ravine.

Here I’m standing on this ridge that leads up to the rim, and I’m looking down on the box canyon.

Once you get near the rim, the earth-covered ridge turns into plain old rock. Someone has chiseled a few steps into the living rock, but these rocky steps are narrow and near a steep drop-off. I’m glad we didn’t try this route in winter time. It seems like it would be dangerous when covered with snow and ice.

After we left the canyon, we hiked back to the parking lot using a different route first climbing stairs and then a steep incline. The foliage along this part of the route were the most colorful of our hike. We arrived back at the parking lot to discover that it was now overflowing with cars. We left and drove off to find lunch and then off to another venue for more hiking.

Looking up
Looking up some more. 🙂
The is a spore-bearing plant called Ground cedar. There was a lot of it growing at Rock Stalls. It’s spores can be used to create special-effect fireballs. We did a post about it here.

Additional information

More on Fall Color

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

9 thoughts on “Autumn Visit to Rock Stalls Natural Sanctuary

  1. Did you notice that you approached on Rock Stull Road, not Rock Stall Road? As far as I can tell, this is a typo that occurred in the early 1900s and has been carried through so that that is now the official name of the road.

    Too bad the waterfalls weren’t running.

    1. The name Rock Stalls has an interesting etymology. The large mound at the end of the canyon was built by Native Americans and used to trap deer and wild horses (the ‘Stalls’ refers to it being used as a horse stall). According to Scott Nicholl – the director of Camp Akita – archeologists from OSU dug into the mound in the 1930’s and found it contained a lattice of tree trunks.

    1. Thanks, Jane. I really like the terrain at this place. When I first moved to Ohio, I had no idea that we had any cliffs in our state, but whenever I’m hiking in or near a ravine that does have cliffs, I always enjoy it.

    1. Thanks, Roberta. The route we went last time was kind of vigorous. If we hadn’t completed the loop and instead returned the same way that we came, it wouldn’t have been as challenging.

  2. Love your pictures and your informative post! We are thinking about visiting here when we come to Hocking Hills. By chance, do you know if they allow dogs on leashes here? Thanks so much!

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