Posted in Central Ohio, Geology, Hiking, Park review

Shale Hollow Preserve

Shale Hollow is Delaware County’s newest park having just opened in December. It is named for a small canyon of 20 to 40 foot shale cliffs rising above a stream named Big Run.

From the level of the stream, a look at the surrounding cliffs

We visited Shale Hollow a couple of times in the past month. The park consists of 188 acres encompassing a ravine, forest, and meadowland. A gravel roadway leads to a parking area next to a nature center. The nature center features a small exhibit explaining the natural history of the area including the 375 million year old shale cliffs. It has restrooms and a classroom area with a nice view of the hollow. Brochures with maps of the park are available near the front door.

The snow-covered nature center of Shale Hollow
This creek is called, “Big Run.” In the rear you see the back of the nature center.

The hollow itself is open to the public for exploration (but not to pets). The cliffs date back to the Devonian period when all of Ohio was a shallow sea. Concretions – round hard chunks of sedimentary rock can be seen embedded in the cliff face.

Viewing the cliff from the deck of the nature center
Looking across Big Run at the shale cliff
A round concretion jutting out of the cliff
Here’s a bit of broken shale that was just lying on the ground in this area. If it looks like a broken blackboard, there’s a good reason for that. Shale is similar to slate, though more brittle.

From this free-exploration area in the hollow, you can ascend a steep, narrow trail that leads to a rim overlooking the hollow (the Overlook Trail).

The Overlook Trail leads up to the rim of the hollow (on the left)
View of the hollow from the Overlook Trail

After taking in the view from the rim, we walked the Great Horned Owl Trail, a 1.1 mile trail that starts near the parking lot, approaches US 23, and then loops back (see the red, dashed loop in the map below). The Great Horned Owl Trail runs parallel to Big Run for a while and passes through woods and prairie. The trail is a wide, packed-gravel path; there are a couple benches along the trail. Pets are permitted on the Great Horned Owl Trail.

Map of Shale Hollow (click to see a large version)
Entering the Great Horned Owl Trail
This path from the parking lot leads to the Great Horned Owl Trail. It is a 1.1. mile loop.
Bench along the Great Horned Owl Trail
A view of the prairie without snow as seen from the Great Horned Owl Trail
Winding around the prairie on the Great Horned Owl Trail

Since the park just opened in December, we’ve only had an opportunity to see what it is like in winter. However, once it warms up, there is supposed to be a beautiful display of wildflowers there. We definitely plan to return.

Additional information

  • Address: 6320 Artesian Run, Lewis Center, Ohio 43035
  • Directions: From Columbus, take US 23 north. At the first light after Lewis Center Rd., turn left onto Olentangy Crossings Rd. You’ll head for a sub-division. Just prior to entering the sub-division,turn right onto Artesian Run. Directly ahead, you’ll see a sign for the park entrance.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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