Field Trip to Rock Run – Early History & Wildflowers
General Hike Location: Near Shawnee State Forest off of Hwy 52.
Driving Distance from the Appalachian Forest Museum: One hour and twenty minutes.
Time & Meeting Location: Meet at 10:00am at the rest stop at Sandy Springs. Departure from the rest stop promptly at 10:15. Hike will be finished late in the afternoon. Directions will be provided in your personalized email confirmation which will be sent after we receive your registration.
Length and Difficulty: This 4.0 mile hike is rated difficult to moderately difficult. Rock Run is rugged and remote, and this hike is not for the faint-hearted. We will be slowly winding our way from our base near the Ohio River, to the top of the ridge, an elevation gain of 500 feet. We will be following an old logging road some of the way, which will likely be muddy in the spring, so be sure to wear appropriate shoes. The rise is gradual but steady (if you are out of shape, you may call it relentless). At times we will be hiking off trail and covering short distances of very steep ascents and descents. This hike is for strong hikers only, who can hike briskly for several hours without experiencing pain, loss of balance, or undue fatigue.
Bring: Be sure to bring bottle of water, a daypack in which to carry your trailside lunch, and a light piece of plastic to sit on for lunch in the likely case that the ground is wet.
Description: 400 acre Rock Run is the wildest, most remote, and inaccessible of all of the Arc’s 15 preserves, located in the highly dissected hill country of Scioto County between Shawnee State Forest (Ohio’s largest State Forest) and the Ohio River, an area that even today is only lightly populated. The region is one of the last remaining in the state to still harbor small populations of the endangered timber rattlesnake. It protects healthy populations of bobcats and a large variety of salamanders and other amphibians. Rock Run is a small tributary of the Ohio River, cutting its way rapidly from its 1000 foot high headwaters to the 500 foot elevation of the banks of the Ohio. Rock Run’s ravine is so high and narrow that sunlight only reaches the rocky waters at its base a few hours a day; and so steep that major rockslides are common. Learn more about Rock Run’s Natural History.
The hillsides harbor a great diversity of wildflowers, over 28 species of ferns, and interesting woody plants such as mountain laurel, black birch, and hemlock. By visiting in mid-April, will be catching only the earliest of the floral showcase, but we will be rewarded with the gorgeous sight of colonies of Wake Robins, Trillium erectum. To protect the preserve’s fragile soils and our own wellbeing, we will not be trekking into the main ravine proper, but will hug the rim of the gorge, where we will be rewarded with beautiful vistas of pristine Appalachian hill country. Our annual wildflower trek into Rock Run is currently one of the only ways to see this preserve, though public trails remain on our long range master plan and dream-list.
Andrew Feight is a professor of American and Digital History at Shawnee State University. He serves as the developer and editor of Scioto Historical, a free smartphone app and website for touring the history of Ohio’s Scioto Valley. A fairly major component of this hike will include a look into the early history of Rock Run. Learn more about Rock Run’s Cultural History.
Jon Srofe is Rock Run’s most devoted local advocate. Srofe is an expert historian and has spent countless hours studying and hiking Rock Run’s terrain. He looks forward to any opportunity to introduce new people to the area and share his passion for protecting this beautiful region.