Parks and playlands

State Parks, Forest, natural wonders, amazing landsacpes….

Summer in the Cedar Bog

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980 Woodburn Rd, Urbana, OH 43078
http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/cedarbog

Cedar Bog, located just outside of Urbana, is a 450 acre nature preserve dedicated to Ohio’s wetlands. Cedar Bog is mistitled. It is actually a Fen. The difference between a fen and a bog is a simple but confusing one. A bog receives water from precipitation. A fen receives water from the local watershed, like underground water table or surrounding rivers.  With over a mile of trails the Bog is a great way to see the wetlands. While this sounds like a walk through a swamp, Cedar Bogs main trail is a boardwalk above the fen. This allows for a nice dry walk even after a recent rain.

The mile long trail runs through tp09-03-16_13-51he forest, in to open areas, and loops back to the main entrance. While it is a short walk the abundance of plant and animal life on the trail makes the walk take much longer.

Summer
With flowers blooming all over the place, birds flying over head, and plenty of Plestiodon (skinks with a blue tail).  The summer is a great time to see the wildlife that comes to graze in the shaded forests of the fen. The flowers blooming in the forest take advantage of the shade to absorb the water from the fen and bloom well into August and later. The abundance of wildlife is also concentrated in the forest. The cool of the morning is the best time to see them. As the day heats up many go to sleep or find a cool place to hide.

One of the main blooms seen is the Mimulus aurantiacus “Monkey Flower”, both the orange and yellow variety. This flower is a host plant for the Buckeye Butterfly which can be seen all over the fen. The forest seems to explode with color. The trees are also full of foliage and make for a great shade in the heat of the day. The difference between the “deep” forest and the fields is striking. The creek at the edge of the trail is full of moss and other growth and seems smaller than during the spring. The flow of water is feed by the large underground water system that makes the bog possible. Even during the hottest month of the year the creek flows nicely. This is a good place to find wildlife taking a quick drink. Most reptiles and amphibians will be in this area of the reserve.

While the bog and forest are cool during the summer. The nearby prairie is not.  The contrast to the wildness of the forest is striking. The sun scorches the land and dries out the area. The prairie in this area has been around since before the settlement of Ohio. The plants in the Prairie trail are use to this and can survive, if not thrive, in the heat. Many of the blooms are yellow and blend in to the color of the grass. The prairie is a great place to see butterflies and insects not found in the forest. Early in the day some wildlife can be seen taking advantage of the grass before the heat of the midday sun.

The summer will be warmer so take some water and go enjoy the nature in one of Ohio’s more diverse and unique trails.

Tip: The bog cost to enter, but is included in a Ohio History Connection Membership. Visiting once a season, with a guest, can pay for the membership.

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The hills of Hocking County Region and what to do.

In the southwest corner of Ohio, about 1/4 of the way up the map is the region surrounding the county of Hocking. The county has less than 30,000 residents. The region is in a part of the state crisscrossed with back roads and no interstates. Yet despite it small size and out of the way location millions of people visit it each year. The big question is what do all these people do in Hocking County and the surrounding region?

Museums:
For such a lightly populated place the region has a large number of museums. From the small museum with a great point to the giant washboard and its museum and factory  How about the birthplace of a famous Civil War General, or a glass hot shop and museum. Like art? The region has many art museums too. A good list is available at http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/indoor-activities/arts/museums/

Outdoor Activities:
Paddling on the Hocking River or Lake Logan is always a popular option. They even have a water jetpack adventure. Biking, both mountain and road, are a good way to get exercise. Golf, both mini and big, is offered in the region. The area is known for its large forested hills and state parks. Hiking and simply enjoying nature seems to a very popular.

Shopping:
The region does not have many large big box chain stores, but makes up for it in the many little art studios and mom and pop shops dotting the region. A quick search on the internet, or with the help of the friendly staff at the regional welcome centers, will bring up a large list of places to find that unique item or gift.

Free Stuff:
The amount of free stuff to do in the area will make it a sure draw for people from all over the state. We tried to put a list together but found this one covered more than we could even imagine. http://www.explorehockinghills.com/things-to-do/free-fun/

Or one could just visit  the State parks with ravines. They always seem to be a popular option.

Special thanks to Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Their Website is overflowing with things to do in the region. Their Welcome Centers are a must stop for the beginning of any tour of the area.

 

Cantwell Cliffs

Address: State Route 374, Logan, Ohio 43138

Websites: http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/recreation/cantwell-cliffs

This is going to be a short review of Cantwell Cliffs. Cantwell Cliffs is part of Hocking Hills State Park. This park is 17 miles from Old Man’s Cave, so it is not as well visited as other parks of Hocking Hills State Park. This makes the place less crowded. The trails in Cantwell Cliffs are 1 to 2 miles. These trails are listed as difficult by the park’s website. This is very true as the trails are full of steps and inclines. There are two main trails. One on the rim of the cliffs is easier and less rocky. The lower trail is more of a challenge.  Both are relatively short and can be done in one day. Getting between the two can be an adventure in itself.

 

This woodland park is full of waterfalls (even though one website says there are none), steps, cliffs, waterways, and other natural beauty. The park might not be accessible by everyones ability level, but it is a very nice change to the other parks in the area. So, if you able and willing for a challenge, this park’s natural beauty will amaze. 

 

 

Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center

13178 State Route 664 South, LoganOH 43138 

https://www.explorehockinghills.com/plan/welcome-centers

The Hocking Hills Welcome Center is one of the best places to start a trip to the Hocking Hills region. The center is located at the edge of downtown Logan, Ohio. It is a great place to get trail maps and information on the less traveled trails and parks of the region. Inside are brochures and guides on more than just the natural wonders, with lots of information on businesses catering to visitors. It also has a large collection of menus from local restaurants for anyone trying to decide where to go after a long day on the trail.

While the world has gone digital and most information is online, the centers staff is quite helpful and a great resource. They are happy to help visitors find the regions popular destinations, local resources, and hidden gems. The center also has many paper maps that are great for using on the trails or roads of the region. In an area where mobile phone reception can be and usually is spotty, this can be a real life saver.

While there don’t forget to leave enough time to go to the Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum just outside the front doors. This is one of the regions hidden treasures.

The Scioto Mile

https://www.sciotomile.com/

The Scioto Mile is a collection of 9 parks along the Scioto River in the heart of Downtown Columbus. Started in 2015, this “mile” was a reworking of the land surrounding the river. Dams were removed. The area was taken back to a more natural state and the its beauty was emphasized. The mile has more than 175 acres of land, but is more than just a series of parks along a river.

The parks are connected by the Scioto Trail. The trail makes up the backbone of the system running from Scioto Audubon Park in the south to the Olentangy Trail in the north and on to the Ohio to Erie Trail. It follows the east side of the river winding from park to park. The parks are not just open green spaces with a few benches. Many of them are filled with sculptures and memorials. There is a center dedicated to the visual arts. More in to the performing arts? The trail has a place for them too. The variety of things to see and do is enormous.

Along the trail is Milestone 229. A restaurant for people on the trail. This is not a fast food joint but a comfort food joint for everyone. It “offers a kids’ menu, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.” The restaurant has great views of the river and the Scioto Mile Fountain. The fountain is a large interactive fountain that comes alive at night with lights and fog. A must see on the mile.

In the middle is the name sake that flows through the city. This section of the river has been improved to be a great water recreation venue. Paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks can be seen on the river during the warmer months. Tours are even offered.

Along the west bank the trail goes through less parks but is no less as scenic. The trail ends up at the new National Veterans Memorial and Museum and one of the Greatest Science Museums in the nation.

The Scioto Mile is a great way to get out and see nature or to experience the city life, or do both at the same time. It is the variety that makes this state great all within the heart of its capital city.

 

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

400 W. Whittier Street Columbus, OH 43215

http://www.metroparks.net/parks-and-trails/scioto-audubon/

In many cities there are parks that are urban oasis, where one can find a bit of nature. Scioto Audubon park in Columbus is one of these places. This is the kind of park on travels to, visits everyday, or visits when in Columbus. This 120-acre park is south of downtown on the Scioto River. So this park is easy to get to when visiting the city. It is filled with a dog park, climbing wall, volleyball courts, hiking trails, obstacle course, hiking/biking/walking trails, bocce court, fishing, boat ramps, butterfly garden, visitor center, nature center and more.

water tower water tower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If one really wants to see the park or the surrounding area, there is an observation deck. This water tower observation deck has two levels and allows one to get some height to see the area.

The  Grange Insurance Audubon Center is housed in an eco-friendly building located in the park. This educational center has programs for all ages and groups. Many of the programs focus on birds and animals in the area and many people’s backyard. The building has exhibits inside for the general public to see, also. So a visit to the park, make sure to stop into the center.

Here are some great virtual tours of the center – http://grange.audubon.org/visit/virtual-tours

This park has great trails, which are one can lots of wildlife. Trails take one through the wetlands, open areas, over hills, and around waterways. These trails weave through the trails and some also connect the park with other parts of the city.

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The trails in the park are not only limited to the park itself. One trail is the start of the Scioto Mile. The mile runs from the park to just south of COSI. One of the most scenic trails and river walks in the state, if not the nation. The mile is more than just one or two parks connected. It is a destination in and of itself … (stay tuned for more on the Mile)

19 place to go in ’19

For the last few years we have been doing a list of places to see in Ohio. This is our wish list of places to see for the year.  There is no order or ranking. So, we hope you enjoy, 19 places to see in 2019.

  1. John Glenn Museum – In the 50th year of the Apollo 11 moon landing we wanted to visit more of this new museum
  2. The Stuart & Mimi Rose Music Center at The Heights – A large music venue in Huber Heights. Seems to have a great line up each year.
  3. Fort Meigs – the site of a major battle of the war of 1812. Recreated to look like it did in William Henry Harrison’s time.
  4. Loveland Castle – A cool medieval castle in sw Ohio.
  5. Paul A Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum – The name says it all
  6. Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum and Library – a collection and displays on the newspaper and magazine comic. Free!
  7. Ohio Theater – Columbus – They always have a good schedule.
  8. Mansfield -While known for the world-famous Ohio State Reformatory Museum, there are a lot of other museums and attractions in the area. This place is worth a weekend.
  9.  Riverboat Cruise (Cincinnati ) – Here are two places that offer riverboat cruises on the Ohio river. Both offer different cruises and tours. Queen City and BB Riverboats
  10. Pine Tree Barn, Wooster – a shop, barn, restaurant, and unique Ohio attraction all in one
  11. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (original location) and the North Market – Columbus – We love markets, we love ice cream. This is seems like the perfect combination.
  12. Covered Bridge Pizza – Multiple locations of these pizza restaurants that are located in covered bridges.
  13. Toy and Plastic Brick Museum – Lego and toys and a museum, Yes please.
  14. The Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati – Cincinnati has great art, and somehow we missed last time in town. Also we want to see more of the great murals.
  15. Glass Heritage Museum – Heritage and art all in one free location.
  16. Deer Creek State Park – A new place to hike and be outdoors.
  17. Sweetie Candy Company – Return to the Candy!
  18. A Street Fair in Ohio – So many to choose from.
  19. Sandy Ridge Reservation – scenic views and hiking trails

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #8

A Crystal Holiday at Krohn Conservatory

Cincinnati, Ohio

https://www.cincinnatiparks.com/krohn/

The Krohn has great flowers year round but The Holiday show this year is taking it a step further.  As their website says
“See replicas of the Roebling Bridge, Carol Ann’s Carousel, Union Terminal and others.  Special this year, National Park Service structures will be on display, including the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore National Memorial.  Applied Imagination’s installations garner nationwide recognition and delighting audiences by using plant materials to build historic architecture and whimsical worlds.”
Just down the way  from the Krohn is

LUMINARIA

Night Lights at the Cincinnati Observatory
December 9 6:30pm – 8:30pm

https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org/publicevents/upcoming-events-2/

For the 43rd year the Cincinnati Observatory will open up it historic telescope for a look at the Holiday night sky. They will have carolers, stargazing, gift shop, and Hot Drinks to warm you up.

Best of all this event is free and open to the public.

12 days of Holiday Activities 2018 – Day #2

Zoo Lights

Our Review.

Ohio Zoo’s are world class. At the holidays they do not disappoint. They are annually some of the best lights in the nation. This year the lights are again in the running for Best Zoo Lights from the 10best at USA TODAY.

PNC Festival of Lights 
Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens
http://cincinnatizoo.org/events/festival-of-lights/

The Cincinnati Zoo will have a 25 foot tree on their swan lake, with floating orbs, all synchronized to music. A gingerbread village with hidden surprises will entertain. The Sisters from Frozen have a meet and greet at the Frozen Wonderland area, and Santa will be available 1 hour before the lights this year.

The Cincinnati Zoo was #1 in 2015 and #8 in 2017. How will they do this year?
To vote for them as the best: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/pnc-festival-of-lights-at-the-cincinnati-zoo-cincinnati/

WildLights
Columbus Zoo

https://www.columbuszoo.org/home/visit/plan-your-visit/event-calendar

The Columbus Zoo has gone all out this year. They have a 42 ft tree that puts on a show. Santa is at home near the polar bears. They also have shows through out the zoo, and much more.

The Columbus Zoo was #5 in 2015 and #7 in 2016. Can they break the top 5 this year?

To vote for them as the Best : https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/wildlights-at-the-columbus-zoo-columbus-ohio/

 

Toledo Zoo Lights Before Christmas
Toledo Zoo
https://www.toledozoo.org/lights

The Toledo Zoo has carolers, lights, and more lights. This year the historic tunnel will make its renovated reopening at the lights. The Cafe will once again be used as a backdrop for a dazzling lights show and the winter village will return.

The Toledo Zoo was #2 in 2015, #1 in 2016 and 2017. Will it make this a 3rd year in a row?

To vote for them as the best: https://www.10best.com/awards/travel/best-zoo-lights-2018/lights-before-christmas-at-the-toledo-zoo-toledo-ohio/

CRYPTOZOHIO: Most Haunted in Ohio II

Cryptozohio - Stories from the Depths

This a continuing list of places that claim to be “The Most Haunted” in Ohio. The location itself might not make the claim, but the claim is made by many people. In our last post (click here) we covered The most haunted City, House, Government Building, Prison, and Cemetery. Today we cover a few more of Ohio’s “Most Haunted”

Most Haunted Museum:

National Museum of the United States Air Force

In our post about the Ohio’s haunted museums we touched on the stories from the museum. Dedicated to the History of a branch of the Armed Service and housing weapons of destruction, the museum is the perfect recipe for ghosts stories and urban legends. The NMUSAF is bound to have a few things that remain long after the battles are fought.

… In the WWII exhibit ghost are said to haunt the planes they once flew. The Lady B Good’s entire crew is said to haunt the area surrounding its memorial stain glass window. Near by the plane is also said to be haunted, but it could just be the crew from the Lady mistaking it , the same model of plane, as their own.  One or two planes have even been said to be “piloted” by ghost who are trying to finish their last mission. Additionally almost all of the Prisoner of War sections of the museum seem to have an eerie feel about them. Almost as if those who never returned have found away back.

This museum is more than just ghost stories though. On July 8th, 1947 something crashed outside of a farm in Roswell, New Mexico. Was it a spy balloon or something else? Some stories say that what ever was found was transferred to the base and stored in Hangar 18. The Base also has stories surround it and the technology it houses. It is said that it has reverse engineered alien tech and that the owners are coming back to claim it.

Most Haunted Island:

Johnson’s Island

Some people say that the “Most Haunted Island in Ohio” is South Bass Island, but with the size of land mass it is more of a haunted town than a haunted Island. Per acre Johnson’s Island is considered the “Most Haunted.” The island maybe small but it played a big role in the Civil War.

Johnson’s Island is located off the coast of lake Erie near Marblehead Lighthouse. The proximity to shore, about 1/2 mile away, made it a suitable location for a Civil War Prison and later Fort. The island is close enough to bring supplies, but far enough to discourage escape attempts. Despite the distance to shore making swimming a challenge in the warmer months, it was not much of a deterrent during the colder months when the lake would freeze over. The frozen lake would also make resupplying the prison a challenge. The harsh winter months were hardest on the prisoners from the south who were use to more mild winters. Disease and weather took a toll. Despite the problems, few prisoners escaped and only 200 men died, making it one of the lowest mortality rates of any prison during the war. But from that 200 men many may have not had easy deaths.

After the war the island was abandoned by the Army. Eventually it was used as a resort, farm land and a rock quarry. From the time the first civilians started to come to the island legends of the former inhabitants had started to be told. In the rock quarry a group of Italian immigrants, many who did not speak english, started singing a strange song one day. It was later found out that this song was Dixie. At the Confederate Cemetery voices can be heard. It is also said the Monument to the fallen soldiers has been seen to move around. The strange sightings are not just confined to the cemetery. While most were buried in the cemetery proper, graves have been found all over the small island. Most of the properties on the now inhabited island are said to be on top of a grave or two.

Most Haunted Inn:

Golden Lamb

Opened shortly after Ohio became a state The Golden Lamb is one of the oldest continually operating Inns in the nation. Over the years many famous people have spent the night there. While it was more famous during the 19th century, with every one from Mark Twain to every Ohio President stopping by, it still sees a good number of visitors each year.

With so many years of operation it is expected that tragedies and strange occurrences will happen.  Probably the weirdest accident to happen was that of lawyer Clement Vallandigham. While in his room trying to show fellow lawyers how his client’s “victim” could have shot himself accidentally, he accidentally shot himself. His client was found not guilty.  Vallandigham was not the only member of court to die in the inn. Charles Sherman, a Supreme Court Justice for the state of Ohio, while doing his required rounds of his district became ill. He was transferred to the Golden Lamb, which is across the street from the courthouse. He died a few days later. His death left his wife and children in dire straights, including future Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. The ghost that haunts the middle floors is said to be one of these two men.

Probably the most famous Ghost of the Inn is that of Sarah. She was the daughter of a former innkeeper and grew upon there.  Her room has been turned into a museum on the fourth floor. Some say this is to appease her, other say it is just a tourist attraction. It is said that late at night a young girl can be seen wandering around the halls near the room. Some say that the ghost is not that of Sarah however. Having lived to adulthood it is strange that she would come back as a child. The tricks the ghost play are not that of an adult but of childish youth. Many think it could be the spirit of Eliza Clay, daughter of famous senator Henry Clay, who died in the inn of a fever.

The Golden Lamb is open year round as a restaurant and working Inn. The Inn does not shy away from its history but celebrates it. This is one place that can be stayed in at night and one might get to experience the strange happenings. One can also visit during the day and see the historic rooms with a chance at a close encounter. For more stories of the Golden Lamb check out https://www.citybeat.com/home/article/13016077/golden-lamb-inn-ghost-hunt 

Most Haunted Park:

Wayne National Forest – Athens Unit

Wayne National Forest may not be a single park, but the parks within it can run together so much that it is hard to distinguish one from the other at times. The area of the forest that has been most cited in stories and legends is the portion surrounding Athens. This area includes Hocking Hills State Park and Lake hope State Park.

Moonville tunnel ror

As we wrote in our post on haunted state parks of Ohio, Lake Hope State Park  is home to Moonville Tunnel. This tunnel is an old abandoned rail tunnel that has seen it share of tragedies. Tales of former rail workers, citizens who fell from the bridges connecting the tunnel. Even without the stories the modern location is creepy all by itself.

… The tunnel is located off the Moonville rail trail. There is a high water trail down the road. This path will lead around the creek that runs high most of the warmer months. The tunnel itself is a run down popular area. The walls are lined with graffiti and trash. Even in the light of day the area is creepy and scary. The idea that the ghost of a lost railroad worker, or a local citizen, becomes almost a guarantee once one has visited the area. Well worth the hike.

Also located in this portion of Wayne National Forest is the ever popular Hocking Hills. This place is so popular that it draws citizens from across the state every weekend. Some stories are from first time campers who see or hear things that are natural in the deep forest of the region and attribute it to the legends of the park. While this may explain some of the tales told, so many more are told that there must be something lurking in the park.  From the natives who first inhabited the land to the Early explorers who are the name sake of the region, many a visitor has come to the place never to leave.

(These parks only contain a portion of the legends from the region see our post here for more)

Most Haunted Subway:

Cincinnati’s Abandoned Subway

Okay this is Ohio’s only Subway. The creepiness and the abandoned nature of it got it on our list. It is also one of, if not the, largest abandoned subways systems in the nation. The size of the thing has attracted many urban explorers ( We do not encourage trespassing), homeless citizens, and wild animals to visit the tunnels.

The subway system was very well-built and is in good order almost 100 years later. This in part due to the workmanship of the people who built it and in part to it supporting a busy road above. Like most projects of the time, a few workers deaths was not unheard of. But did the workers ever leave, or do they continue to stay and work on a system with little hope of becoming active. Explorers who have gone into the tunnels have said to hear creepy noises and even moaning. Many have also said to have found the camps of the homeless who have made the tunnels home. Most visitors come away from the Cincinnati Subway with an uneasy felling.

A documentary on the System has been produced and airs on PBS from time to time. It is available on Amazon. If you would like to visit the Tunnels of Ohio’s Subway, tours are offered on occasion. We recommend a tour due to the nature of the location and the legality of exploration. Visit https://www.cincymuseum.org/heritage-programs#subway-talk-and-walk for more information.