Blendon Woods Naturalist Stephanie West gives a shout out for the 2.5-mile Overlook, Brookside and Ripple Rock trails. These shaded looped trails descend three times into a stream bed and at a fast pace it should take you 35 to 45 minutes to traverse. Stephanie suggests that you slow down and take in the sights and sounds along the way.
Listen for the sharp call of the Louisiana waterthrush that nest along the stream, watch wild turkeys scratching on the ground and check out the barred owls along the Overlook section. On cool, sunny days, you may even see the diminutive brown snake sunning itself.
Marvel at the large black iridescent ebony jewel wing damselflies fliting along the stream bed and look for chunks of ripple rock, those fossilized waves from an ancient sea floor.
If you’re hiking with your kids and you start at the nature center, Stephanie recommends that you take a short detour to the natural play area where the family can climb a net, balance on logs or zip across a creek.
Stephanie West, Naturalist Blendon Woods
For a great workout with a scenic landscape and changing topography, Highbanks Naturalist Chrissy Hoff recommends the 2.5-mile Dripping Rock Trail. A deep ravine twists and turns along the trailside and visitors can venture off trail to see the shale rock walls and listen for the flute-like call of the wood thrush echoing through the forest.
As you continue on the limestone pathway, be on the lookout for grey snakes climbing the thorny trunks of the locust trees. Sunset is a great time to see deer and other animals grazing in the meadow as you stand on the observation deck.
The trail begins a long descent and wanders over ravines flowing to the Olentangy River. The second half of the trail begins upward through the forest. Chrissy says visitors can extend their hike and take the Overlook Trail and look for eagles hunting along the water or take the spur toward the burial mound, built by the Adena people who lived in the area over 2,000 years ago.
The trail can be completed in an hour and Chrissy notes that many visitors linger longer to enjoy the sights and sounds of a cool shaded forest.
Naturalist Chrissy Hoff, Highbanks