Posted in Hiking

Mohican State Park in Winter

Although we normally aren’t free on a weekday, we happened to be at Mohican State Park on Friday, March 4th. We were staying at the lodge for Bob’s birthday. Snow had fallen the previous night, so we had our first opportunity to see what Mohican looked like in winter. What a beautiful sight!

Big Lyons Falls

Here is a GPS trace of our hike. We began in the north at Pleasant Hill Dam, traveled south along the westerns side of Clear Fork branch of the Mohican River. After hiking through the Mohican Covered Bridge at the southern end of our hike, we turned north and followed the relatively level trail along the eastern flood plain of Clear Fork.

GPS trace of our hike from Pleasant Hill Dam to the Mohican covered bridge and back again.

Although winter seems to drain the color out of everything, what’s left has a stark beauty of its own.

Near the spillway for Pleasant Hill Dam.
View of Clear Fork from Pleasant Hill Dam

While viewing Clear Fork from the dam, to do our hike you approach the trail to the right side of the river. On the return trip you’ll have to climb the steep stairs up the dam.

All of the evergreens along the trail were decked out in snow.

Snowy evergreen trees.

As we approached Little Lyons Falls, we were pleased to see the water running in this seasonal falls. The trail crosses the stream a short ways before the falls.

Little Lyons falls was running well. The trail crosses the stream about 7 or 8 feet before the drop.

Years ago when we hiked this trail, there was a very worn, stone stairs to the base of Big Lyons Falls. In wintry conditions like our most recent hike, it would have been extremely dangerous to even try descending the stairs. But since then volunteers have built wooden stairs, and even in the snow it was a piece of cake to get to the falls’ base.

Deb descending stairs to the base of Big Lyons Falls.
Looking back at the stairs leading to the base of Big Lyons Falls.

The only hiker who had preceded us had wisely turned around after checking out the falls and retraced his steps back to the dam. We could both understand his choice to go no farther when we saw how icy the floor of the recess cave was around the falls. Unlike Ash Cave in the Hocking Hills, there are no dry, ice-free areas to traverse. Besides the waterfall, sheets of water also flow down the walls of the recess cave and across the ground.

Inside the recess cave beneath Big Lyons Falls, the walls and floor were encased in ice.
Base of Big Lyons Falls.

Bob and I managed to cross the icy floor of the recess cave, Bob with more ease than I experienced. We had chosen slightly different routes. When I got within four feet of dry sand, I faced a glossy smooth, sloped sheet of ice. Although previously there had been bumps under the ice (frozen tree litter, rocks, etc.), here there was nothing to use for footing. I ended up squat-walking the final few feet, thinking that at least if I slipped and fell on my rear, it would only be a few inches until I hit the ice.

Bob after making it past the icy floor around Big Lyons Falls.

So after this we were thinking it would be clear sailing for the rest of our hike. Shortly after this thought passed through our mind we came to our next obstacle. The branches of a fallen tree covered a wide stretch of the trail. Since we were both wearing waterproof hiking boots, we managed to get past the fallen tree by wading across the stream and advancing on the other side of the stream until we cleared the obstacle.

Because a fallen tree blocked the trail, we briefly moved to the other side of the stream.

Now it really was clear sailing. The terrain angled slightly up and down as we approached the river.

Bob on our snowy trek.

We soon drew near to the river.

Clear Fork Branch of the Mohican River.

We reached the sounthern most point of our trip when we came to Park Road and its covered bridge. We thought that perhaps the road would be icy, but road crews had done a great job of both salting the road and laying down grit.

This is the road near the Mohican Covered Bridge. Road crews had already salted it and added grit.
Mohican Bridge, decked out in snow.
Clear Fork viewed from the covered bridge.

At this point it was time to turn back to return to our starting point. Rather than retracing our inbound path we returned via the trail on the opposite side of the river. It’s a fairly level path along the floodplain, a nice one to leave to the end of your hike in the event that you are feeling tired.

The way back to Pleasant Hill Dam is a mostly flat trail along the flood plain of Clear Fork.

As we drew near the end of the hike we could see Pleasant Hill Dam in the distance. A couple fishermen had staked out places at the base of the dam on the cold concrete.

Pleasant Hill Dam… There are a couple fishermen trying their luck along the base.

The stairs to the top of the dam are a combination of boards and earth. It’s a long way up. The picture below was taken after we had already climbed about two-thirds of the distance.

Stairs up Pleasant Hill Dam, and this is after already climbing about two-thirds of the way up.

We had a great time. When we were planning our trip we weren’t really expecting there to be snow this late in the season, and by the next day it had nearly disappeared. After we finished our hike, we drove to nearby Malabar Farm Restaurant (at Malabar Farm State Park) for a tasty meal.

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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

7 thoughts on “Mohican State Park in Winter

  1. Great post about a beautiful place I will have to see in the wintertime.

    By the way, I’m not sure which part of the state you’re from, but in Northern Ohio, we can have significant snowfalls even into MAY. March snowfalls are fairly common, even in a super mild winter like this one.

    1. Thank you, Lee. We live in central Ohio and don’t get nearly the amount of snow that you do. However, I’m kind of hoping we are done with winter for this year. I’m ready to move on to spring wildflowers. 🙂

  2. Haven’t been to Mohican in years. Time for a visit. Always carry “YakTrax” in your pack in the winter time just in case you come upon icy conditions.

    1. Mike, we actually were wearing YakTrax for this hike. However, since there was only between an inch or two of snow (with some bare spots), we were having an issue with the YakTrax grabbing on to the leaf litter. Periodically we had to scrape off the ball of leaves that were accumulating under our shoes.

      When I was on the icy floor near Big Lyons Falls, the springy underside of the YakTrax just were not penetrating the ice at all. I don’t know if the ice was too thick, or smooth, but YakTrax just weren’t biting into the ice. It’s almost seems as though crampons were needed, although that seems ridiculous to say about an Ohio hike.

    1. Karen, thanks! Hope you are doing well. There’s lots of excitement around here as our daughter is getting ready to move to New Zealand within three weeks.

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