Posted in Central Ohio, Hiking, Park review

Ramser Arboretum

Ramser Arboretum is a 680-acre arboretum in Knox County that is privately-owned, but open to the public (except during deer-gun season). It features more than five miles of hiking trails that may be used by cross country skiers during the winter.

Wide path through the woods

The entrance contains a gravel parking lot, picnic tables, a port-a-potty and a kiosk with information and post cards with a map of the trails. A relatively short drive from Columbus (30-40 minutes), Ramser is a nice spot for a walk in the woods. The paths are wide and well marked. The terrain features rolling hills, and it contains a number of habitats, such as forests, meadows, and wetland.

Ramser Arboretum owes its existence to Russell Ramser. Russell Ramser was a mechanical engineer and a retired Air Force Major. Upon retirement he purchased a cattle ranch in Knox County. He was extremely active in community affairs and ran a local manufacturing company and an energy company. He decided to convert his cattle ranch into a tree farm. He purchased adjacent land and planted over 150,000 hardwood trees. Major Ramser passed away in 1996. His legacy, Ramser Arboretum, is managed by his daughter Susan.

I visited the arboretum twice; once in September of 2013 and once in the May of 2014.

Entrance to Ramser Arboretum
From one of the trailheads looking back towards the road, you can see the arboretum’s parking lot (car parked in the far left), and the neighboring church.
There are a couple picnic tables near the parking lot. There’s also a kiosk and a porta-potty.

During our May 2014 trip, an extensive schedule of birding events were posted at the kiosk. Apparently this is a good birding spot. It is also listed in Ohio e-bird.

This schedule of events for a previous year (2014) shows many birding events taking place in May.

While we were there in May, we saw a Red-eyed vireo. As beginning birders, this was a new species for us.

Red-eyed vireo (Vireo olivaceus)

If you read the schedule posted above, you may have noticed it referring to May wildflowers. Here are a few that we spotted during our visit.

Blossom of the mayapple. The flower is hidden beneath the plants large leaves.
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Chickweed (Stellaria)
Wild violet
Spring Beauty (Claytonia virginica)
Azure Bluet (Houstonia caerulea)
Rue Anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

At the kiosk you can pick up a trail map that’s printed on something resembling a post card. Here’s the map.

These trail map on a post card are available at the kiosk.

I only hiked a portion of the available trails, but as you can see from a screenshot of the GPS trace of my hike, it only corresponds loosely to the map.

This is a screenshot of my hike in fall of 2013. It looks like I did the Oak Trail and maybe the Dogwood Trail. The trail that juts off directly east (top right) is supposed to be going to the wetland meadow. During our spring trip here in 2014 we followed that to the end.

During the spring hike posted above, we had a little trouble knowing which trail we were on because the signs weren’t in great shape.

The fading oak leaf on the left edge of this sign shows that it is pointing the way for the “Oak Trail”. Since this was photographed in 2013, it could be that the trail signs have been improved in the intervening time.

The trail map has a number of butterflies printed on it. I’m not sure exactly what the significance of these are, but we did see a butterfly species that was new to us.

This butterfly is a Duskywing, possibly a Wild Indigo Duskywing.

If you look at the GPS trace of our hike, you can also see that at least part of the trees have been planted in rows. This is due to the arboretum’s history as a tree farm. When you are on the ground, the old tree farm looks like this.

Signs that this was once a tree farm

However there are parts of the arboretum where the trees are more mature and more naturally distributed.

Wide path through more naturally distributed trees

If you go along the trail at the northern edge of the arboretum, you’ll eventually reach the meadow wetlands.

Trail along the northern edge of the arboretum. In this photo the old tree farm is to the left. To the right beyond the row of trees is farmland.
Adjacent farmland visible from the northern edge of the park. This gives you a nice feel to the low, rolling hills that are characteristic of this region.
A bench along the trail. There were a number of benches, some of which had adjacent trash receptacles.
Deb hiking toward the wet meadowlands
Bridge over a small stream in the wet meadowlands
Young trees springing up in a succession area

The arboretum’s caretaker rides along the trails in the vehicle below. He’ll stop and chat with you and answer any questions that you might have.

A patrol vehicle for the arboretum caretaker
Additional information

  • Address: 24565 Danville-Jelloway Road, Danville, Ohio
  • Geo-coordinates: 40.5361347,-82.3012748
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Knox County

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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