Battelle Darby Creek

Batelle Darby Creek Metro Park

Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park

We’ve been having New England summer weather here in Ohio for the past two weeks, so hubs and I were more than happy to spend last Sunday basking in 70-degrees-and-sunny weather at one of my favorite metro parks, Battelle Darby Creek. Metro Parks’ largest park is located in the bucolic southwestern side of Columbus near Galloway. We parked in a lot at the intersection of Alkire and Gardner Roads, where we stole the last parking spot and marveled at the number of cyclists out at the park that day (the Darby Creek Greenway Trail goes through the park). From the lot we hopped on the Indian Ridge Trail, which connects to the Cobshell Trail (roughly 2 miles to the Ranger Station and back). The hilly trail provided excellent views of the Big Darby Creek.

Big Darby

Big Darby

Despite the huge crowd at the lot, we only passed a few other people while out on the trail. We hiked alongside a blooming meadow and an old cemetery before heading into the woods and towards the creek. The mostly-level trail was interspersed with a few challenging hills that offered lovely views of the creek. It was the kind of romantic day where you hear the choir of rustling leaves on trees and feel your hair lifting off your neck and into the wind and you feel untouchable. Yes, that’s how good it was!

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

heading up a hill

heading up a hill

On the way back we spotted a very cool spider and a mushroom tree!

Spidey

Spidey

A fungus among us

A fungus among us

Once we reached the parking lot we decided to continue right onto the Terrace Trail, a two-mile gravel loop through the woods. It was a pleasant enough hike, better suited for joggers rather than hikers looking to escape into nature. It does connect with the 2-mile Ancient Trail, so you could get in a nice 4-mile workout if you so desired.

Batelle Darby10

View from the Terrace Trail

I recommend following up your hike with a visit to Handel’s ice cream (a staple of my childhood in NE Ohio) on Feder Rd near 70/270. YUM. More information on the park and maps can be found here: http://www.metroparks.net/parksbattelledarbycreek.aspx

 

 

Glen Helen State Nature Preserve

Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Glen Helen Nature Preserve

Earlier this week my friend Laurie, who lives in southwestern Ohio by way of NC, and I met at the Glen Helen Nature Preserve just outside of Yellow Springs. I had been itching to get over there since my failed attempt at camping in nearby John Bryan State Park during the mini monsoon season we had here. We met at the Raptor Center, where we discovered you cannot park for the day, but we did take a gander at the birds before moving our cars.

Who?

Who?

We ended up parking at the Glen Helen Building off Corry Street, where we picked up a trail map for a mere quarter. The map kindly illustrated the different sites within the park and how to get to them. You can download it here: http://glen.antiochcollege.org/assets/files/Misc%20Glen/TrailGuide-Final.pdf

Laurie and I took the Inman Trail and part of the Upper Birch Creek Trail for a nice two-hour hike (which was plenty considering we felt like we were hiking through a swamp in a sauna. We promptly treated ourselves to frozen hot chocolates in Yellow Springs afterwards!). Glen Helen connects with trails in John Bryan State Park, and is situated along the Little Miami bike trail, so you can easily come up with a day’s or weekend’s worth of outdoor activity in the area. It was a beautiful day so I’ll let the photos speak for themselves:

Fun in the sun

Fun in the sun

Yellow Springs Creek

Yellow Springs Creek

Mwahahaha

Mwahahaha

One of several waterfalls

One of several waterfalls

 

 

 

 

Blackhand Gorge

The Gorge

The Gorge

Here in Ohio we had something like 452 straight days of rain (that’s what it felt like, anyway). As soon as the sun decided to show up I traveled over to Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve outside Newark, about an hour down 161 west from central Cbus. I parked in the west lot off Brushy Fork Rd and hopped onto the four-mile paved bike path. I didn’t have a map with me so I figured I’d walk about a mile to see if it led me to the gorge and/or other trails. It did not. The flat, wide path led me along cornfields and beautiful old trees where I spotted blue butterflies lounging on some leaves.

Bike Path at west lot

Bike Path at west lot

Hello sun!

Hello sun!

Limenitis arthemis astyanax (according to some butterfly website)

Limenitis arthemis astyanax (according to some butterfly website)

After returning to my car I consulted the old “smart” phone in the hopes that it would help me find the gorge. I found a map on the gorge’s website, however I still had difficulty finding the main lot, which quickly leads to the gorge and several unpaved trails. Somehow I stumbled upon another lot with a map at the trailhead that put me much closer to the gorge, so I settled for that. If you come here I suggest planning your route beforehand, with the goal of parking at the main lot and taking the Blackhand Trail to the Quarry Trail, which has breathtaking views of the gorge.

There was light traffic in the park this Tuesday morning, and I took a wooded side path over to the Quarry Trail. I was passed by a family of white-tailed deer; unfortunately they were swifter than I and I didn’t capture them on film. I did get their tracks complements of all the rain we’ve been having.

Deer tracks

Deer tracks

The Quarry Trail turned out to be beautiful, isolated and challenging. Most people in the park were using the paved bike trail for running/biking; I was thankful for the solitude the woods provided. The trail goes along rolling hills for about 1 mile before connecting back to the paved trail. I took it both ways because it was so beautiful. It offers views of the gorge from above, and, if you’re willing to break the “stay on the path” rule (yeah right!) there is a muddy path that leads to a ground-level view. I hope I don’t offend anyone by saying that it invoked the beauty of Oak Creek Canyon in Sedona, AZ. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves:

ground view

ground view

along the trail

along the trail

Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

Oak Creek Canyon, AZ

Blackhand Gorge

Blackhand Gorge

Blackhand Gorge

Ready to go back and enjoy a summer sunset!

After about three hours in the park the skies began to darken (shocker!). I headed for home with a quick detour in Granville because I wanted to see for myself if it lives up to it’s New England-y reputation. The main street is indeed cute and quaint, and I treated myself to some well-deserved and delicious Whit’s custard.

Downtown Granville

Downtown Granville

Weird basket building on 70

Weird Longaberger basket building on 161

Blackhand connects to Dillon Lake and State Park, making it an excellent area to explore over a weekend. Watch the sun set at Blackhand Friday night, camp at Dillon State Park Campground and explore there Saturday, check out Dawes Arboretum and stop in Granville for brunch on your way out Sunday.  I plan to do it myself soon and will let you know how it goes!

https://ohiodnr.com/location/dnap/blackhand_gorge/tabid/922/Default.aspx

Failed Attempts/John Bryan State Park

Last weekend hubs and I had planned on backpacking through Wildcat Hollow, a 20-mile trail within the Athens Ranger District of Wayne National Forest, broken up between Saturday and Sunday. I was intensely excited to hike in and camp, as I’ve only ever camped in designated campgrounds. Unfortunately, the weather was against us; last weekend southeastern Ohio got pummeled by storms and flash floods. Because I had put so much effort into prepping our packs and food for the weekend, hubs was kind enough to indulge me in creating a last-minute backup plan based on the which area of Ohio looked least likely to drown per the radar. Welcome home!

We decided to stay at John Bryan State Park, which is a little over an hour from downtown Columbus heading east on 70. We figured that if it was dry(ish), we’d hike along the gorge and within the Glen Helen Nature Preserve, and if it not we could hangout in nearby Yellow Springs, a little liberal college town populated by the cast of Portlandia. (Yellow Springs, you know I love you. I’d move there if I could!)

Sunset at John Bryan

Sunset at John Bryan

We arrived Friday evening around 7, got set up and enjoyed the lovely sunset. The campground was clean, staffed by friendly folks, and the other campers were respectfully quiet past 10 pm. That said we were disappointed in the lack of privacy; the sites are set up in a large field bordered by trees, not in a forested area. You can easily see your neighbors. Unfortunately I think it is the only nearby campground.

We woke around midnight to raindrops, but hubs did a commendable job securing the rain fly so we stayed dry. Unfortunately, the rain never let up, so we ended up heading into YS for brunch, where our trip culminated in an appearance by YS resident Dave Chappelle. After that we felt satisfied enough with our excursion to give up on our camping dreams and go home. I’m still eager to hike Wildcat Hollow and will update you once I do!

That's a non-alcoholic beverage in my mason jar, thank you very much

That’s a non-alcoholic beverage in my mason jar, thank you very much