Dawes Arboretum located in Central Ohio consists of 1,800 acres of formal gardens, fields, ponds, and forests, including eight miles of hiking trails. Among its facilities are a visitors center, rest rooms, picnic areas and shelters. The meticulously maintained formal gardens are a popular venue for weddings.
The arboretum was established by Columbus residents Beman and Bertie Dawes. They purchased an old farm in Licking County, renamed it Daweswood and planted trees and established gardens. In 1929, they established the arboretum as a private foundation “to encourage the planting of forest and ornamental trees … to give pleasure to the public and education to the youth”.
You can explore the arboretum by car or on foot via the many walking trails. Many paths are paved and are handicap accessible. The arboretum is an excellent place for a hike or picnic with your children. Dogs are permitted, but must be kept on a leash.
Located just south west of the Visitor’s Center is one of my favorite sites within Dawes Arboretum, the Japanese Garden. It hasn’t been open to visitors for much of this year because it is being renovated. I believe that it is scheduled for re-opening in June 2015.
According to The Dawes Blog, when this garden was opened in 1965, the Japanese Ambassador, Ryuji Takeuchi, said it was, “…one of the most beautiful examples of this facet of the Japanese culture that I have seen in the United States.”
While crossing the stepping stones, you may see koi swimming nearby.
There are several little islands in the lake. Part of the renovation work involves stabilizing these.
Just off the lake in the forest there is a lovely little structure that’s referred to as the “meditation house.”
Just over the crest of the hill on the other side of the lake is a Japanese rock garden, also referred to as a “Zen garden.” The sand is arranged in such a way as to make you think of a stream.
Deb wrote about the Cypress Swamp previously. It is like a little piece of bayou right in the heart of Ohio. It is located just southeast of the Visitor’s Center. From the boardwalk that passes through this small swamp you can see a variety of wetland animals, such as frogs and water snakes.
Near Dawes Lake
Along the far, southern boundary of the arboretum the words, “DAWES ARBORETUM”, have been shaped with hedges. The view of the words below was photographed from the observation tower in the far, southeastern corner. Just above the words (to the north) is Dawes Lake.
During the summer colorful dragonflies dart around the lake.
According to the Dawes Arboretum FAQ, members of the Dawes Arboretum are allowed to do catch-and-release fishing in Dawes Lake; however, when we were there last summer there was a sign saying that fishing had been suspended in order for some research to be conducted at the lake. I’m not sure what the current policy is.
Near the Forest
Below you can see part of the one-lane, one-way road that winds its way throughout Dawes Arboretum. You can see most of the park’s highlights by touring it via car. There are many spots along the way where you can park, look around, then get back in the car and carry on your tour.
On the other hand if you are up for a walk, it’s very pleasant to hike through the shady woods on a hot, sunny day.
To the east of this trail there is a side trail leading to a pioneer cemetery, known as the Beard-Green cemetery. There are a number of veterans of the Revolutionary War who are buried here.
To the west of this woodland trail is a side trail leading to a log cabin.
Besides beautiful flowers, the formal gardens include arbors, fountains, and bird feeders.
What would an arboretum be without trees? Signs posted nearby many of the trees identify which species they are. There are both native, Ohio trees, plus exotic trees from all over the world. In the spring the blossoms are just beautiful.
The arboretum features numerous public events during the year including a winter luminary display, maple syrup making, and many educational events for both adults and children.
Dawes Arboretum schedules a number of educational events. Among them is an annual maple syrup festival. In 2015 this will be held the first couple weeks of March (at the beginning of each year we list maple syrup events taking place across the state).
- TrekOhio: Licking County Parks & Preserves — This is the county where Dawes Aboretum is located; check out this page for links to the official website and for information on nearby parks and preserves.
- TrekOhio: Dawes Arboretum Scarecrows
- TrekOhio: Dawes Arboretum: Cypress Swamp
- Dawes: Maps of Dawes Arboretum
- Dawes: The Japanese Garden: Polishing a Rare Gem
- Ohio Division of Wildlife Video: Exploring Dawes Arboretum
- Address: 7770 Jacksontown Rd., Newark, Ohio 43056
- GPS Coordinates: 39.9801353,-82.4152905
- Google Maps: View on map or get directions
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