Volunteer Days – Cave Road Invasive Work Days – extend the Wildflower Pilgrimage with two service days.

Join the Cave Road Crazy Clippers Crew!

Wednesday, April 12 and Thursday, April 13, 2017

10:00 am to mid-afternoon both days. Meet at Beechcliff (directions below)

Registration without lodging

Our Workday.

Cave Road is the epicenter of the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, with miles of hiking trails, overnight lodges and the Appalachian Forest Museum. It is also an epicenter for much of our invasive plant removal work. Invasive plants such as garlic mustard, bush honeysuckle and privet have become a problem for this preserve. During these two work days, we will remove invasive plants along Cave Road.

Leader: Pat Claeys & Lewis Ulman




  • After 6 PM—Check in at Beechcliff. No dinner served, so please eat ahead, bring your meal with you, or eat at a restaurant in Bainbridge.
  • 8:00—Group gathering at Beechcliff.



  • 7:45—Morning stretches, if interested.
  • 8:30—Breakfast. Pat and Lewis will provide a light breakfast (e.g., bagels, hummus, yogurt, oatmeal, coffee, and tea). Please bring fruit or other items to share.
  • 10:00 to mid-afternoon—Invasive removal. Please bring sack lunch to eat at the work site.
  • Late afternoon—Time to clean up and relax.
  • Evening—dinner provided at Beechcliff, with everyone helping to make a delicious meal. Relax for the rest of the evening.



  • 7:45—Morning stretches, if interested.
  • 8:30—Breakfast – Pat and Lewis will provide a light breakfast (e.g., bagels, hummus, yogurt, oatmeal, coffee, and tea). Please bring fruit or other items to share.
  • 10:00 to mid-afternoon—Invasive removal. Please bring sack lunch to eat at the work site.
  • 3:00—Return to Beechcliff. Time to clean up, relax, and eat a slower cooker dish and leftovers before Wildflower Pilgrimage’s evening program..



Highlands Nature Sanctuary’s Natural History

The Highlands Nature Sanctuary, the largest of the Arc of Appalachia’s preserves, lies between Rocky Fork State Park and Paint Creek State Park along the Rocky Fork Gorge in Bainbridge, Ohio. The Rocky Fork Creek, which runs through the middle of the preserve, is one of the Eastern Forest’s geologic treasures. Abrupt canyon walls rise up on either side of the creek up to 100 vertical feet, forming a narrow canyon composed of Silurian-aged dolomite. Over the millennia, huge blocks of stone have cleaved away from the canyon wall, creating a labyrinth of rock-scapes.

There is no place in the world like the Rocky Fork Gorge in the spring. Not only do flowers grow in abundance in the loamy neutral soils of the canyon floor, but even the vertical stone walls and fallen boulders are covered with a living blanket of flowers: including snow, sessile and large-flowered trilliums, bishop’s-cap, stonecrop, shooting stars, wild ginger, celandine wood poppy, rue anemone, and columbine. Only limestone-based rocks fed with generous rainfall can produce such profusion — giving the mythical appearance of rocks dissolving into flowers — which, in terms if science, is quite true. Hikers walking in the gorge the third week of April find themselves in a landscape lush with a high diversity of flowers, during which time the Sanctuary is host to the annual Southern Ohio Wildflower Pilgrimage, a yearly celebration of this phenomenon.


Physical Requirements

No invasive removal experience is necessary for this work day, and the tasks do not take a lot of physical endurance nor strength. Garlic mustard plucking in the spring requires only light bending at the waist, since the garlic mustard grows almost to hip height and pulls out of the ground easily. Sawing or cutting  invasive woody shrubs and canes at their bases does require squatting close to the ground, so workers on this task need flexibility and good joints. We will be applying herbicide in small quantities to the cut stems of the woody invasives, Volunteers will be trained in safe application.

What to Bring

Bring a bottle of drinking water and a lunch for each day. If you are coming to remove woody plants and do not have prescription glasses, bring a pair of sunglasses for eye protection. We also recommend wearing footwear with a good tread, and a brimmed hat to keep the sun off your face. And don’t forget your rain coat! If you have your own clippers, garden gloves with rubber coated protection, and light handsaws, bring them along. If you don’t, we can share our tools with you. Poison ivy will not be a major problem in the fall or early spring since the leaves are not out  However, if you are extra sensitive to this allergen, it’s best to stay out of the meadows any time of the year, and we recommend that you choose projects that work primarily in the forest and stay out of the meadows. Bugs will not be a problem.


Please contact Kayla Hanning with any questions at services@arcofappalachia.org or 937-365-1935.


Beechcliff Group Lodge, 7771 Cave Road, Bainbridge, OH 45612

Look for the highway sign announcing the turnoff to the Highlands Nature Sanctuary on State Route 50, five miles west of Bainbridge, 16 miles east of Hillsboro, and 3 miles east of Rainsboro. Turn south onto Cave Road (there is only one way to turn) and continue for 0.6 miles. Along this section of Cave Road you will see on your right: first, a private cabin with a lot of fancy stonework; next Leatherwood Cabin which is signed (a Sanctuary rental), and then two deteriorating old bungalows. You will then drive up a steep hill. Half way up the hill will be the entrance sign and drive to the Beechcliff. Beechcliff has a loop drive – and you can take the first or second entrance. Park in the parking lot provided and follow the graded sidewalk down to the facility.


The Rocky Fork Gorge view from the deck at the Appalachian Forest Museum

Pat Claeys caring for tree frog tadpoles at Ridgeview Farm. 

One of the overnight lodges located on Cave Road, Leatherwood. Photo by Ken Schory
Trillium pyramid located on the Valley of the Ancients trail
Photo By Tom Croce Photography