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.
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.
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:
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.
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!