Trail System Open to the Public
The three hiking trails at the 106-acre Chalet Nivale Preserve on Bacon Flat Road in Adams County are open to the public every day of the year from sunrise to sunset. Sorry, pets are not allowed at Chalet Nivale nor most of the Arc’s trail systems – please see Fort Hill and Serpent Mound for pets permitted on leash. Two loop trails meander through the low floodplain created by two short tributaries of Scioto Brush Creek that have sculpted the bedrock into mossy slump blocks and intriguing outcrops, bounded by vertical cliffs. A third trail dissects a meadow that lies like a low bowl – surrounded by a rim of Appalachian hills. The trail provides pleasant panoramas of the surrounding hill country, especially during fall color season.
Outstanding Geological Scenery & Botanical Treasures
The dolomite bedrock of Chalet Nivale creates a compelling karst-country landscape of springs, seeps, grottos, and sinkholes. These alkaline soils and bedrocks are renowned for producing a diverse assemblage of rare and endangered wildflowers, ferns and shrubs, including herbs with prairie-associations, such as Climbing Milkvine, Stiff Gentian and Tall Larkspur. Ancient White Cedar Trees, isolated hundreds of miles south of their normal range in the North Woods, cling to the bluffs of the cliffs. Chalet Nivale also shelters one of the largest colonies of Snow Trillium in Ohio.They are usually the first of the spring wildflowers to emerge, usually in mid to late March, and the tiny flowers are often caught in a late winter snowfall. Other rare spring wildflowers at Chalet Nivale include the limestone-loving Walter’s Violet, the smallest-flowering violet in Eastern United States.
Two of Ohio’s Cleanest Streams
State researchers were stunned to discover that one of Chalet Nivale’s two headwater streams earned a virtually unheard-of “perfect” Biotic Integrity Index Score of 60. The second tributary earned an impressive score of 54, making both streams the highest-ranked waterways in the entire Scioto Brush watershed. What these scores mean to the layman is that they posses a high diversity of fish species for their size, exceptionally clean water, and a high-production of aquatic insects and invertebrates which fuel the richness of the aquatic ecosystem. By preserving Chalet Nivale, the Arc has not only protected a treasure house of plant species, but has ensured that the excellent water quality of its splendid streams will be protected for all time.
History of Chalet Nivale’s Preservation
For decades, botanists in Ohio have raved about the botanical hotspot on Bacon Flat Road in Adams County. When a cabin was developed on the site in the 1980’s, many of Ohio’s naturalists feared the worst for the future of the plant diversity. The foreboding increased when a large addition was added to the cabin in the 1990’s. It was a great conservation victory when, in 2004, the Arc purchased Chalet Nivales’ first two tracts which protected most of the Snow Trilliums, totaling 15 acres and found a preserve caretaker to live in the residence. In 2008 a third tract was purchased expanding the preserve to 106 acres and protecting most of the watershed of two exceptionally pristine tributaries of the Scioto Brush Creek as well as outstanding rock formations.
Volunteers Sought for Land Preservation
Three non-native invasive plants – barberry, bush honeysuckle, and multiflora rose – are now rapidly invaded Chalet Nivale. The lush displays of wildflowers on the 106 acres now depend on volunteers to ensure their presence, and to guarantee their capacity to inspire and uplift future generations of visitors. A Chalet Nivale Volunteer Group has formed to remove the non-native invasive species and keep Chalet Nivale as pristine as it would have been found hundreds of years ago. Please join our Chalet Nivale Facebook Page for listing of upcoming volunteer events.