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Holden Arboretum: Canopy Walk & Emergent Tower

The Murch Canopy Walk passes through the treetops

In mid-August we visited Holden Arboretum to see two new attractions – the Murch Canopy Walk and the Kalberer Emergent Tower. Located in Lake County, Holden Arboretum is the largest publicly-accessible arboretum in the state of Ohio. With 3,600 acres of gardens and forest and over twenty miles of trails there is much to see and do. This article discusses the new canopy walk and the emergent tower. For more information on Holden Arboretum, please see the posts about our earlier visits.

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Wayne National Forest (Athens Unit): Wildcat Hollow

We chose the 5-mile long “short loop”.
Wayne National Forest encompasses over a quarter million acres in southeastern Ohio; the national forest is divided into three units: Athens, Marietta, and Ironton (see the links at the bottom for more information on these units). Like all national forests, recreational use of the forest is only one of its purposes. Forestry officials are also concerned with conservation, timber harvesting, mineral management, livestock grazing, watershed protection, and wildlife management. Among the recreational activities available in the Athens Unit are hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, ATV riding, hunting and fishing.

Within the Wildcat Hollow area of the Athens Unit, there is a 15-mile loop trail for backpackers (referred to on signs as the long loop), and a 5-mile loop trail for day hikers (referred to as the short loop). Bob and I have done the short loop hike a couple of times. We went once in the spring, and had a less-than-enjoyable time. The trail was extremely wet and muddy, and I’m referring to a suck-the-hiking-boot-off-of-your-foot kind of muddy. I kept thinking that once we got out of the hollow and onto the ridge, things would improve. But it was pretty much a five-mile slog through the mud.

However, we decided to give it another try when it was drier. So we returned during August of a previous year. The going was much better, and we actually enjoyed ourselves.

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Sixteen Great Hikes in Ohio

Looking for a great place to go hiking in your region of Ohio? I will describe three great places to go hiking in each of five geographic regions of Ohio. In this post I’ve added a fourth hike for southwest Ohio bringing the total to sixteen hikes. All are hikes that Deb and I have completed. Many are favorites that we’ve hiked many times.

Five years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Ten Great Hikes in Ohio” and then a follow-up “Ten More Great Hikes in Ohio”. Since then Deb and I have traveled all over the state and discovered some new and interesting places to hike. We also have some new information about many prior areas where we’ve hiked. This article is an update and replaces the two previous articles.

Bridge over cascade on Rock Run Creek

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Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest: Watch Rock

Among the trails available at Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest, there is one called “Watch Rock.” If you look at the official map, there is a side trail to a “starred” feature that itself is called “Watch Rock”. Since we were unable to find a description of what “Watch Rock” was, we could only guess. We figured it was a rocky promontory overlooking a scenic vista, but of course we didn’t know for sure. To add to the mystery, during a previous hike we reached the end of the Watch Rock trail without ever seeing the side trail. So this spring we decided to give it another try.

Entrance to Vinton Experimental Forest

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Salamanders and newts at their breeding sites

From late February and through the end of March salamanders migrate to their breeding sites. Many amphibian species only breed in vernal pools. Such pools form during the winter, remain throughout the spring, then dry up in the summer. Since the water does not remain in the pool year-long, fish cannot live in them. This means that amphibian eggs, larvae, and/or tadpoles will not be eaten up by fish.

An adult helps a child to hold a salamander

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Hocking Hills State Park: Hemlock Bridge Trail

In this post we describe a hike that begins at the parking lot that used to service the dining lodge. Initially we follow the Hemlock Bridge Trail. There is an optional hike on a spur trail that leads to Whispering Cave. However, in this post we instead continue on until we reach Hemlock Bridge. After crossing the bridge we follow the Grandma Gatewood Trail to the Old Man’s Cave region. After exploring this area, we retrace our steps back to where we parked. The round-trip hike is 4.2 miles.

Hemlock Bridge

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53rd Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike, January 2018

We participated in the 53rd Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike on Saturday. This was our eighth time participating in this winter hike that runs from Old Man’s Cave to Rose Lake, Cedar Falls, and ends at Ash Cave for a total distance of 6.5 miles. A bus returns participants to the starting point.

Ash Cave

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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

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Vinton Furnace State Experimental Forest: Arch Rock

The day after Thanksgiving Bob and I decided to hike to Arch Rock, one of Ohio’s 80 or so natural arches. A natural arch is simply a hole through a rock outcropping that was produced by erosion. In some cases, the hole isn’t that big. However Ohio does have a number of arches that are big enough for a person to stand beneath the arch with room to spare. Arch Rock is one of these larger arches. It has a 9.7-foot span with 8.25 feet of clearance.

Arch Rock in Vinton Furnace Experimental Forest

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Davis Memorial State Nature Preserve

Davis Memorial State Nature Preserve is one of the more interesting geological sites in Ohio. There are six fault lines in Adams County. Surprisingly, one of these fault lines is visible within the preserve. In addition Adams County is one of the few places in Ohio where you can observe rock outcroppings made of dolomite (sometimes called dolostone). Dolomite and limestone are both said to be calcareous due to their high calcium content, and both are alkaline. They even resemble each other visually. However unlike limestone, dolomite has a high magnesium content. The alkaline, magnesium-rich soil found in Davis Memorial supports 15 species of plant that are rarely found in our state which makes it interesting to naturalists.

Boardwalk by calcareous cliff on the Sullivantia Loop Trail

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