Posted in Hiking, Park visit

Ice Column at Mohican State Park

I am reluctant to go hiking when the high temperature for the day is a single digit, so that’s really put a crimp in our hiking plans for this winter. However we took advantage of a warm spell last week to book a couple nights at the lodge at Mohican State Park. Once there we did one of our favorite hikes that took us by Little Lyons Falls and Big Lyons Falls on the west side of Clear Fork with the return route following along the creek on the opposite side. As a reward for finally getting outside this winter, we got to see the beautiful ice column below.

Big Lyons Falls transformed into an ice column

Getting Oriented

Below is a screenshot of a map showing points of interest and a trace showing the hiking route. It can be viewed online at Google Maps. The locations of the points of interest are also specified at the bottom of this post.

The trace is actually from a different occasion when we did this hike. We typically start and end at the covered bridge and follow the loop in a clockwise manner which is reflected in this trace. However since there had been a freezing rain the night before last week’s hike, and since there are no guard rails on the road leading to the bridge, we thought it might be better to start the hike near dam for Pleasant Hill Lake and follow the loop in the counter-clockwise direction. Unfortunately this means that there is a long climb up the side of the earthen dam at the end of the hike. The hike itself is just shy of three miles in length.

Left-most icon: Lodge ♦ Central icon: Trace of our hike ♦ Right-most icon: Gorge Overlook

Next I’m going to discuss some winter hiking gear. If you are used to winter hiking, feel free to skip to my account of our hike.

Bob posted a previous article on Gearing Up For Ohio Winter Hiking Season. However, I’d like to make just a couple points about gear here. Because of the freezing rain, ice was something of an issue. Strapping Yaktrax Pro to your hiking boots increases your traction because the spring-like metal bands on the bottom dig into the ice.

An icy patch on the trail
A pair of Yaktrax Pro over my hiking boots

The other piece of gear that I like using during the fall, winter, and spring is a drawstring backpack. I use it to assist me in adding and removing layers of clothing. During cold weather, I typically select my clothing so that I’m a little chilly when I begin the hike with the thought that I’ll warm up after I get moving. Particularly in southern Ohio where there are some substantial hills, I have often had the experience of being bundled up at the base of a hill, and then as I climb up to the ridgeline I find myself getting warmer and warmer. Having a drawstring backpack gives you some place to offload coats and jackets as you warm up from the exertion. This keeps you from getting sweaty, then chilled. An advantage to a drawstring backpack over a regular daypack is that it weighs practically nothing.

There is the option of just tying the sleeves of a jacket around your waist, but there are some disadvantages to this approach. If you are hiking on a trail that is so narrow that your jacket is brushing up against the surrounding vegetation, you are increasing opportunities for ticks to get on you. Ticks basically cling onto vegetation with their hind legs while reaching out with their front legs. They use their front legs to grip on to whatever brushes up against them. And unfortunately the species of tick that carries Lyme disease is active during the winter. Depending on the time of year that you are hiking, other disadvantages of hiking with a jacket tied to your waist on a narrow trail is that it can collect burrs, get snagged by briers, or even brush up against poison ivy.

Wearing a drawstring backpack in which I’ve stowed a fleece vest

Pleasant Hill Lake

For this hike, we started near the dam for Pleasant Hill Lake. Since we are normally here during warmer weather, it was fun seeing that a number of ice fisherman were out on the lake. Note the big drill laying to the side of the fisherman’s gear.

Ice fishing

Before heading out we looked at the valley beyond the dam. On the way back we’ll be climbing up the dam. I had thought the stairs might be icy, but they were fine.

The valley below the dam
Starting out on the trail

I’ve been doing some walking on an indoor track during this bitterly cold winter to maintain some level of fitness, but I can’t say how boring that is compared to hiking outside. It was great to be out. Before we knew it, we were approaching Little Lyons Falls. People used to have to walk across the stream bed above the falls to continue on the trail. However, friends of the park have been very industrious making bridges and boardwalks, so the trail is safer and more pleasant.

Approaching Little Lyons Falls
Little Lyons Falls

Little Lyons Falls is a small waterfall formed where a stream pours over a rim into a small, box canyon. While staying on the trail, you can only see the top of the falls. An as noted in the previous photo, you are warned against trying to get a better look by straying off the trail.

The bridge just upstream from Little Lyons Falls
The top of Little Lyons Falls

It’s hard to get an idea of how deep the little box canyon is, especially since logs and other debris have rolled into it and been covered by snow and ice. So here’s a look at it from the other side.

The cliffs around Little Lyons Falls
Big Lyons Falls

Next up was Big Lyons Falls. I have only been to this area once before during winter, and at that time the lake was not frozen over and water was running freely over Big Lyons Falls. So it was a real treat seeing that an ice column had formed from the falls.

Bob standing near the base of the ice column

The ice cone on the ground was interesting to look at. It reminded be of a pine cone. The outer surface was covered with small, upward pointing ice “scales”. The outer edge of the scales were white, but toward the interior, the ice was colored blue.

Blue ice

And on the way out, here’s a photo of me standing by the ice column to give a sense of its size.

Deb by the ice column at Big Lyons Falls

The trail leading away from Big Lyons Falls heads towards the creek known as Clear Fork.

Clear Fork
Looking downstream Clear Fork from the creek bank
Here’s a look upstream

As we depart Clear Fork, the trail takes us up and away from the creek.

Heading toward the covered bridge

One of the many improvements that friends of the park have installed are boardwalks in areas that are frequently muddy and prone to erode due to small springs on the hillside above the trail.

On the boardwalk headed toward the covered bridge
This rock outcropping makes me think of an animal’s lair.
Covered Bridge

The trail ends at Park Road near the covered bridge. We typically park here, but we were unsure as to what the road conditions might be like. However, as you can see, quite a few others parked here. It looks like the road has been salted and is a bit slushy.

The parking area near the covered bridge

And looking the other way, here’s the bridge.

The covered bridge in Mohican State Park
Inside the bridge looking out
Viewing the side of the bridge

While we were on the bridge we noticed another hardy soul in his waders fishing in Clear Fork.

Dedicated fisherman
Flood Plain

We proceeded back on the other side of the creek. The trail there is really flat and near the creek bank. During warmer weather I have seen blue heron wading through the water here.

Going north toward the dam along the flood plain of the creek

After getting back to the dam, we jumped in our car and headed toward the Clear Fork Gorge Overlook.

Gorge Overlook

After a cloudy morning we were delighted to see the sun come out in time for our visit to the overlook. There is an overlook platform on both ends of the parking area. The gorge was formed by glacial melt water roaring through this valley some 14,000 to 24,000 years ago. The end result of all that erosion was a gorge that is a thousand feet wide and 300 feet deep.

Bob at the western (left-most) overlook

This overlook actually has two levels. There are stairs leading down to a lower level, but they looked really icy so we stayed on top.

This view shows the rim of the lower level of the overlook.

After this we walked over to the eastern overlook area.

Bob at the eastern overlook area

I was pleased that we were able to see Clear Fork at the base of the gorge. When we have taken in the view during warmer weather, there has been too much foliage to be able to make it out.

Clear Fork in the shadow of the hill
Dining at the Lodge

After spending much of the day outside, it was nice to have a warm meal at the lodge. The restaurant in the lodge is known as Bromfield’s Dining Room. During dinner the staff had a fire going in the fireplace. We briefly considered sitting near it, but after realizing how much heat it was giving off, we decided to move a bit farther away.

Fireplaces in the lodge’s restaurant

Bromfield’s Dining Room overlooks the Pleasant Hill Lake which was frozen over (hence the ice fishing).

Looking toward the lake from the restaurant

We have often dined at the nearby Malabar Farm Restaurant, but during January it is only open on weekends so that didn’t work out for us. However, I enjoyed our meals at Bromfield’s Dining Room. If you decide to dine there, just be aware that they open several hours for a meal, close, then open several hours for the next meal, etc.


We went on this hike on Tuesday, January 9, 2017. I just posted one of these photos on Facebook, and someone replied by posting a photo that they took yesterday. It looks like a lot of the ice has melted already. 🙁

Additional information

Mohican State Lodge
  • Address: 3116 State Route 3, Loudonville, Ohio 44842
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions
Pleasant Hill Dam
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.623094, -82.324272
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions
Covered Bridge
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.613337, -82.316760
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions
Clear Fork Gorge Overlook
  • GPS Coordinates: 40.610662,-82.287093
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Winter Hiking

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

3 thoughts on “Ice Column at Mohican State Park

  1. You were so lucky to catch the frozen Lyons Falls..beautiful. Thanks for sharing. We live about a half hour away and hike Mohican often. We will have to try some winter hikes and see if we can catch some frozen views.

  2. Just got the post and had a good laugh. There were pictures I took in July ’17 while hiking at Mohican that
    were nearly identical to the ones on your post. It’s really something to see the difference that six months can make! Really enjoy your website. It’s been a wonderful guide for me and my dog as he is also grateful for the many miles he’s put on while out in the woods.

    1. I really appreciate your comment. 🙂 We used to take our dog hiking all the time, and she really loved it, too. I bet it was fun comparing and contrasting the summer and winter photos of Big Lyons Falls.

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