Hiking at the Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation





One of the things I love about following various Instagram accounts is getting new ideas for where to take our hiking excursions.  Whipp’s Ledges within Hinckley Reservation was one of the places that caught my eye for a family hike.  I fell in love with this type of typography after last year’s trip to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Hinckley Reservation is part of the Cleveland Metroparks system.  While we only hiked the Ledges Trail, there appear to be 7 foottrails within the reservation, one of which is an all-purpose trail for hiking, biking, and rollerblading.

Whipp’s Ledges Trail is accessed from State Rd.  Note: When we were there, a bridge was being repaired on State Road.  You must enter the hiking area from the north.

There is a map at the entrance to the trail, but I’d recommend printing a trail map and taking it, just in case.  There are blazes, but not many signs, making it a little confusing.

The ledges are really spectacular.  It’s hard to believe that this type of place is just minutes from shopping malls and restaurants.  Ohio keeps surprising me, and this is a gem of a place to hike.

The hiking is rugged, so I wouldn’t recommend these trails for any younger than 3.  If you have a hiking carrier, you’d probably be ok!  Also, prepare for MUD.  Our kiddos wore their snow boots so we wouldn’t ruin their tennis shoes.  The trail is only 1.25 miles in length though, so it’s definitely doable with young ones who tire easily.

Probably the thing I loved most about Whipps Ledges was that it was one of those places that just made you feel really SMALL.  As a Christian, I’m always reminded that there’s something much bigger than me- and that HE is in control, not me.  Taking our kids to these places is a nice jumping off point for those talks, too- how we worship a great Creator who made this beautiful place for us to enjoy.  #endsdeepandmeaningfulconvo

Anyhow- Have you been to Hinckley Reservation?  If you’re interested in going, my friend Tonya at The Traveling Praters covered nearby Worden’s Ledges.  Next time we’ll definitely be checking them out.

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Finding Hemlock Falls – A hidden waterfall of Ohio

My introduction to Hemlock Falls came from an Instagram post.  Ever since then, I’ve been scheming a time and place to see this hidden waterfall.  I’m so glad we did!  What an Ohio gem!

While Hemlock Falls is located NEAR Mohican State Park, it’s actually on private property managed by the Mohican School in the Out-of-doors.  Eventually the Falls will be on the new B & O Trail as the land was recently purchased by the Mohican Watershed Conservancy.

What does that mean for the casual traveler like me? You must call and get permission to access the site.  Don’t just show up!

The Mohican Outdoor School has field trip groups on many days and the first time I called they said we could not visit.  If you’re coming from out of town, you can call and set up a time in advance, but since we live close-by I just called on a particularly nice day to see if the site was available.

The Falls are actually across the street from the School.  My directions were to go to the school first and check-in.  Don’t do like I did and mistake someone’s home for the office!  Oye!  The school office is actually located just below the visitor parking area.  If you see a dumpster, you’re on the right track (how welcoming)!  The director I spoke with (after opening the door to her personal home), said they are working on getting better signage.  Thank you and amen. 🙂

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

After you park near the Field Trip Center (across the road from the school), you will need to follow signs that are located on tall poles or trees.  They aren’t the easiest to find!

We actually got off of the trail at one part and needed to cross the creek on foot to get back on the trail.  There are no blazes.

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

Hemlock Falls waterfall Ohio

Then, once we got to the bridge where you view the falls, there were signs saying the trail we were on was actually closed.  Uhhh???

Nonetheless, the site of a 60+ foot waterfall that’s not heavily visited like Big Lyon Falls at Mohican or Ash Cave in Hocking Hills, made the momentary stress of finding the falls dissipate.

Hemlock Falls hidden waterfall Ohio

Normally I would have turned around, but I thought I should honor the sign.  So on the way back we followed signs for the “main trail” and we ended up about 300 yards down the road from our van.  Hmmmm.

If you go, I’d ask for very clear directions from the Outdoor School.  I would not have been concerned except I was alone with my three kids AND there is no cell phone reception in this area.  That’s not the best combination!

The Hemlock Falls trail is slippery when muddy, so wear your boots!  Also, our youngest is 3 and she was able to manage the trail with a little help from me.  I wouldn’t bring much younger children unless you have them in a hiking carrier.  It’s very hilly.

The # to call for Mohican School of Outdoors:  419-938-6671

Hemlock Falls is located approximately 25 minutes south of Mansfield, OH or 30 minutes north of Mount Vernon, OH.

Where to stay:  I loved my stay at the Mount Vernon Grand, a closer option would be the Hampton or Best Western on the south side of Mansfield.

Have you been to Hemlock Falls? 

 

**This is not a sponsored post but may contain affiliate links**

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2017 Travel Bucket List

Where I want to go this year.

2016 was a year of big travel and big changes for our family.  We traveled Down Under in January and moved an hour away from our home of 7 years just two days after Christmas.  Now that the boxes are unpacked we’re settled in to our new city (kinda) – I wanted to share with the world our travel plans for 2017.

(Our 2016 Travel Bucket List)

Ohio 

Toledo Zoo & Aquarium  +  Oak Openings (this is one we didn’t get to last year and now that we live a little closer I’m hoping we can)

Cedar Bog Nature Preserve & Johnny Appleseed Museum – two very close attractions

Gorge Metro Park (Summit County)

The Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Museum of Natural History– Specifically the new Perkins Wildlife Center

How cool does this look?!

 

In our new town of Mansfield

Kingwood Center Gardens

Richland Carrousel Park

The Blueberry Patch– Blueberry picking, a winery, and cafe.  I hear they have donuts.  Enough said.

Malabar Farm State Park

That’s some lofty travel goals!  Good thing we have 11. 5 months.

United States

Outside of Ohio, we don’t have a bunch of concrete plans.

One trip that is booked is Topsail Island, North Carolina.  Our family has been there numerous times, I think this will be Mr. YT and I’s 9th time!  On our last visit C was only 9 months old, so this time should (hopefully) be a little more relaxed- and include more sleep.

That view never gets old.

On the way to the beach I’d like to cross off New River Gorge, WV.  This National River was on my list last year, but the timing never quite worked out!  It’s only a quick jaunt off of I-77 so I don’t see why we couldn’t leave a couple of days early for NC.

Photo from nps.gov

Fort Wayne, IN-  June will take us to Fort Wayne for the Mr’s work conference. (Last year it was at Belterra Resort & Casino and we traveled alone).  We’re planning to bring the kids this time and make it a family adventure.  Did you know that Fort Wayne has one of the Top 10 zoos in the nation?

Beyond that, we hope to do another week of travel in the USA or Canada.  I’m thinking a Canadian Road Trip to Montreal and Quebec City might be fabulous, but then I get sidetracked thinking of some Southwest miles we’ve accrued and how we could use them for Texas (Joanna Gaines, I love you) or Southern California.   My van is OLD (we only buy used cars with cash) so I’m not sure it could even handle a road trip.  Maybe that will pressure is into flying!

I’ve also got my eye on a few flower festivals. Tulip Time in Holland, Michigan is fairly close to home and looks like a fun weekend.  I’d also like to head south again- New Orleans?  The Lowcountry?  Eh, first things first- we better sell our vacant home.

 

Have you made your travel plans for 2017?  Where are you headed?  Have you been to Fort Wayne?  

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5 Favorite Spots within Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park did not disappoint.  Since we live in Central Ohio, we’ve frequented Hocking Hills, but were eager to explore somewhere new.

Only established in 2000, Cuyahoga Valley National Park lies between two of Ohio’s largest cities, Akron and Cleveland.  I think much of its appeal is that the park is easily accessible from many major roads and highways…and you’re never more than 20 minutes away from a Starbucks or McDonalds.  #Merica.  😉 It really feels like you’re in someone’s backyard, not out in the middle of nowhere.

We visited with our kids, but these 5 favorite spots at Cuyahoga Valley National Park could work for old and young:

Deep Lock Quarry

Located within the National Park jurisdiction, but managed by the Summit Metro Parks, Deep Lock Quarry is named because the park contains the deepest lock on the Ohio-Erie canal.  The early quarry provided rocks for the canal locks, later this sandstone was used to make millstones to remove the outer hulls of oats (i.e. Quaker Oats).  I’m a sucker for history, so I enjoyed the walk even more thinking about how things would have been back when the canal and the milling were open for business.  We did use our stroller on the trail, but we only walked back to the quarry steps and turned around, we didn’t make the full loop.

The Deep Lock Quarry park runs right next to the Towpath Trail, however, no bikes are permitted on the Quarry Trail.

cuyahoga valley national park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

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Virginia Kendall State Park Historic District aka The Ledges

Southeast of Deep Lock Quarry is The Ledges.  Oh my, this was my favorite of the favorites.  If you’re looking for a place to wow the kids or overseas visitors, I would take them here.  The little ones were sleeping so my husband stayed back and Jackson and I did a shortened version of the trail.  So worth it!  The Civilian Conservation Corp did much of the works here in the 1930s and the way they made things blend into nature- I swooned over this sandstone staircase.

Favorite Spots Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Kids (and adults) will love exploring the moss-covered rocks and ancient rock formations.  I felt transported to somewhere mysterious like Angkor Wat, the jungles of far-off lands seemingly placed in Northeast Ohio.

Favorite Spots Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Perspective.

Boston Store Visitor Center/Blue Hen Falls/Brandywine Falls

Ok, so this is technically three areas, not one, but they are all within a short drive.

We began our first day at the Boston Store Visitor Center.  The Center will provide you with a park map, Rangers are on staff to answer questions, and they have a small display on some of the Ohio-Erie Canal history (a better one is at the Canal Observation Center).  From the Boston Store to Blue Hen Falls is a short drive and the Blue Hen Falls hike is less than one mile.  This trail is hilly and unpaved, but you could do it with a jogging-type stroller.  I saw a woman push her son in a wheelchair (you go, momma).

Blue Hen Falls isn’t massive, but it’s pretty.  There’s a park bench overlooking the waterfall and if I didn’t have three kids – one trying to convince me to hike down into the falls, one trying to jump off every rock in the vicinity, and one trying to climb the barrier fence- I’d totally sit here and contemplate life.  Ha!

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Blue Hen Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Next is the park’s showstopper, Brandywine Falls.  With a 60 foot drop, Brandywine is the second largest waterfall in Ohio.  This area was chockablock full of tourists, but still worth the stop.  My favorite part was the walkway TO the falls- the boardwalk is suspended from the stone cliffs.

Brandywine Falls, Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Canal Exploration Center

The name gives it away, but this is the spot along the Towpath Trail where you can stop and learn all about the Ohio-Erie Canalway.  I’ve visited old locks at places like Blackhand Gorge in Licking County, yet this museum helped me realize how absolutely NOTHING I understood about the canal, how the locks worked, or even the role of the canal in shipping goods from NYC all the way to the Mississippi River.  Waa waaa.

We made it a point to stop in during a lock demonstration, and they even let our boys (and man) help out.  Check the National Park Service event guide to see when these demonstrations are happening- the volunteers do a fantastic job!

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The lesson may have been lost on Jackson, who thought the dots on Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, New York, and New Orleans were meant to mark the Bills, Browns, Bengals, Giants, and Saints. Ha!

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Bedford Reservation

Last on my list of favorite spots is Bedford Reservation which is managed by the Cleveland Metroparks.  Our family hiked the short route to Bridal Veil falls and also visited the overlook to Tinkers Creek Gorge.  This was an easily hike for the kids as the way to the Creek is a large wooden staircase, not as steep hill.  That said though, leave the stroller behind!  It was difficult to see much from the Overlook, as every tree is full of green foliage.  I’d make a point to come here in October and enjoy the fall colors.

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CVNP7

Get thyself to Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  Grab some water bottles, some good shoes, and take the kids or your grandma.  You won’t regret it.

More info:

As noted, most of these areas would be difficult with a stroller because of the rough terrain or numerous stairs.  Try taking a hiking backpack.  We did use the stroller at the Canal Observation Center because it provided some shade and rest during the Lock Demonstration.

You could do most of these highlights in one day.  Because of the ages of our kids and our driving time of 2 hours, we broke our visit into two days and stayed one night in the Akron area at the Residence Inn by Marriott Fairlawn.

Residence Inn by Marriott Akron Fairlawn

We love Residence Inns because they have a separate bedroom and living area and offer a free hot breakfast.

The Towpath Trail runs through the heart of CVNP and is a biker’s dream.  Bikes can be rented in Peninsula and can also be taken on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park website HERE

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Wahkeena Nature Preserve with Kids

This past fall a girlfriend and I packed up our kids and visited Wahkeena State Nature Preserve, the perfect day-trip for anyone in Central Ohio.  Located just south of Lancaster in Fairfield County, the Preserve is ljust on the northern edge of the Hocking Hills region.  Wahkeena is the Native American word for “Most beautiful.”  The unassuming vegetation of this area really is beautiful.

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Wahkeena 1

There are 2-3 different trails at Wahkeena.  These are short in length and fairly easy for children.  Watch for the local wildlife though! #Notafanofthisguy

wahkeena

There is no handicap-accessible route, so don’t plan on taking a stroller.  I carried our littlest in the hiking backpack.  This worked well except for the wetland boardwalk.  Two little boys on a moving boardwalk…hmmm…you can imagine! 😉

The Visitor Center is a must-see.  There are taxidermied animals (a little creepy), and real ones!  There are also fantastic diagrams showing how many bears, bobcats, etc have been spotted throughout Ohio.  Interesting, and a little frightening!  For ages 6-10 this would be the perfect place for a science lesson on habitats and environments.

Wahkeena visitor

The kids’ favorite part of the day was this barred owl.  He is kept at the Preserve due to an injury he sustained when he was hit by a car.  Owls are so majestic, the kids really enjoyed watching him.

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Have you been to Wahkeena Nature Preserve?  It would be a great pit stop on your way to Hocking Hills from Columbus.  I think we’ll go back in a few years once my younger kids children understand a bit more.

More information

There is no designated picnicking spot.  We packed some sandwiches and ate them in the parking lot.  Lancaster is only 15 minutes away, where you’ll find many eating out options.

Want to try another hike?  Check out Shallenberger Nature Preserve.

Wahkeena State Nature Preserve is administered by the Ohio History Connection and managed locally by the Fairfield County Historical Society.  You can see the OHS website HERE.

For a more thorough review with up-to-date hours and schedules, on of the employees of Wahkeena keeps a blog HERE.

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