OHIO OUTDOOR NOTEBOOK
By Laura Jones, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Something’s always cooking with Ohio State Parks!
When it comes to outdoor fun, Ohio’s state parks serve up a variety of adventures for you to enjoy throughout the year. Every month, there’s a little something on the events menu meant to entice and intrigue state park visitors.
According to Lynn Boydelatour, head naturalist for Ohio State Parks, these special events and nature programs ensure that your visit is never ordinary. “Visitors get a kind of inside scoop on Ohio’s natural world. Not only are the programs informative, they help bring busy families together, to enjoy a shared experience while building happy memories.” He adds that the next couple of months are no exception when it comes to exciting state park adventures.
Our waning winter weather ushers in maple syrup season. What better place than an Ohio state park to discover how the clear, watery sap of maple trees is transformed into delicious, amber-colored syrup? Toss in a tour of the sugar bush and a tasty pancake breakfast, and it’s sure to cure anyone’s curiosity about tree-tapping time in Ohio. You’ll find sweet events going on at these state parks: Hueston Woods in Preble County and Malabar Farm in Richland County, during the weekends of March 4-5 and 11-12; Van Buren in Hancock County on March 11; Hocking Hills in Hocking County on March 11-12; and Indian Lake in Logan County on March 18-19.
But the fun keeps on going even after sap stops running. Birding events pick up toward the end of the month, with Sycamore State Park in Montgomery County offering an “early-bird extravaganza” on March 19. Mary Jane Thurston State Park in northwest Ohio explores Waterfowl on the Move, during an Audubon bird-walkers outing on March 25. Improve your bird-viewing opportunities by bringing along a pair of binoculars or spotting scope.
Young anglers also have something to look forward to in March. Stonelick State Park in Clermont County is hosting a Just for Kids Fishing Day on March 25, where youngsters are invited to cast for some of the newly stocked rainbow trout in Stonelick Lake. Kids should bring their own bait and tackle, but the park will provide its hungry participants a lunch that includes hotdogs and drinks. Throughout the spring and summer, fishing derbies will be regular events as several state parks.
Moving in to April, state park calendars will be chockfull of things to do, including an Amphibian Awareness Day on April 1 at Shawnee State Park in Scioto County. Come and learn more about some of the state’s lesser known creatures, including frogs, toads and salamanders. Later in the month, Quail Hollow State Park in Stark County will feature Night of the Frogs on April 15. Watch a slide presentation then join the park naturalist at a nearby wetland in a search for these elusive amphibians.
The state’s spring wildflowers are definitely nodding their pretty little heads in April, and Ohio State Parks showcases these beautiful blooms during guided spring wildflower walks. At Hocking Hills State Park, you’ll get a two-for-one during the April 21 Wildflowers & Waterfalls hike. Let yourself be dazzled by a forest floor carpeted in colorful wildflowers, and entertained by the lively splash of cascading waterfalls.
Also in April, several state parks will be offering “spring cleaning” days and Easter egg hunts. Other unique events include taking a spring woodcock walk at Maumee Bay State Park in Lucas County, preparing a meal over an open fire with cast-iron cookware at Caesar Creek State Park in Warren County, and a rowing regatta at East Fork State Park in Clermont County.
Want to know more? A calendar of events can be found on the Ohio State Parks web page at ohiodnr.com. With so many enticing activities to choose from the hard part will be deciding which state park to visit!