Posted in Park visit

Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve: Pine Ridge Trail

We returned to Lake Katharine Nature Preserve in mid-May to walk the 2.5 mile Pine Ridge Trail. Among the attractions of Pine Ridge Trail are Lake Katharine itself, Rock Run creek, a cascading waterfall, large rock outcroppings and cliffs, a hemlock grove, and magnolia trees.

Bridge over cascade on Rock Run Creek

The trail-head starts in the parking lot and leads east to the intersection of the Pine Ridge and Calico Bush trails. From there it intersects a service road that descends down to the earthen dam at one end of Lake Katharine.

Trailhead near parking lot
Deb near trail sign at the junction of Pine Ridge Trail and Calico Bush Trail
Hiking near exposed bedrock
Hemlock grove
Looking over the rim
A cliff edging the rim
Lake Katharine
Mysterious building in Lake Katharine — perhaps it has something to do with the spillway?

There were plenty of spring flowers growing on the earthen dam and the surrounding area.

Bluet (Houstonia caerulea)
Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)

After crossing the earthen dam, the trail descends to a wooden bridge across Rock Run – a creek fed by the outflow from the lake. The bridge is situated over a picturesque cascade as the creek descends from the lake to a valley below.

Looking from the bridge between sandstone outcroppings back toward the lake
Bridge over the waterfall
Cascading waterfall below bridge — what a beautiful sound!
Lyre-leaf sage (Salvia lyrata)

And here are a few sightings along the way.

Five-lined skink — I never would have seen him if he hadn’t moved.
White Slant-Line Moth (Tetracis cachexiata)
Spicebush swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

The preserve contains two types of magnolia trees that are rare in the state of Ohio – the Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla) and the Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala). The Bigleaf Magnolia’s leaves are lobed at their base and the Umbrella Magnolia is not. There are only 37 full-grown Bigleaf Magnolia’s in three valleys of the Jackson County. The Umbrella Magnolia is rare, but occurs in Jackson, Hocking, Scioto, and Vinton counties. We saw a number of Umbrella Magnolia saplings and a few mature trees along the trail.

Range Map for Bigleaf Magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla)
Range Map for Umbrella Magnolia (Magnolia tripetala)

Baby Umbrella magnolia trees
Even the Umbrella magnolia saplings have big leaves.
We were hoping to see magnolia blossoms, but by our mid-May visit they had already wilted.
Foliage of magnolia tree
Mature magnolia tree in the center

The trail follows a ridge paralleling the Rock Run valley and passes through a series of woodlands. It then descends down to the flood plain of Rock Run Creek and follows it for a while. Besides seeing more Umbrella Magnolia saplings along the creek, there was also a huge expanse of ferns.

Walking along the Rock Run Creek
Ground cover of ferns
Deb photographing ferns at base of outcropping
Fern (Osmunda)

There was some bare, sandy soil near the creek — perfect for viewing animal tracks.

Deer track in sandy soil next to the creek

While photographing the above track, a dragonfly landed right beside it and said, “Take a picture of me!”

Lancet clubtail dragonfly (Gomphus exilis) — relaxing beside Rock Run Creek

Finally, we came to a wooden bridge over Rock Run. The trail then ascended the other side of the valley, intersecting the Calico Bush Trail again and returning us to the parking lot.

Hepatica foliage
Violet wood sorrel
Fire pink (Silene virginica) with a dusting of pollen
Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Corridor between outcroppings

Additional information
  • Address: 1703 Lake Katharine Rd., Jackson, Ohio 45640
  • Directions: Once you are in the general area, it’s 2 miles west of Jackson on State Street (County Road 76 or Beaver Pike); turn right and proceed 2 miles north on County Road 85 (Lake Katharine Road).
  • GPS Coordinates: 39.085967, -82.669583
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Jackson County

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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