Field Trip – Strait Creek Prairie Bluffs
A Nature Conservancy Preserve
2017’s field trip to Strait Creek will be offered on Saturday only
General Hike Location: We will be meeting in Sinking Spring, Ohio where we will gather and leave some of our cars behind for the last short drive to Strait Creek.
Driving Distance from the Appalachian Forest Museum, one-way: 30 minutes.
Meeting Time & Location: Meet at 9:30 am in Sinking Springs. Our car pooling caravan to the trailhead will leave Sinking Springs promptly at 9:45 am. Be sure to be on time since there will be no way to catch up if you are late.
Bring: Be sure to pack a bottle of water and bring a daypack to carry your lunch which will enjoyed along the trail. We recommend packing a piece of plastic to sit on in case the ground is wet.
Hike Length: 3 miles.
Leaders: Your leaders for this hike will be August Froelich, with The Nature Conservancy, and Dave Minney, Southern Ohio naturalist and botanist.
Difficulty:. The hike will cover ground both on and off trail. Hiking boots are recommended for the occasional steep slopes and stream crossings.
1200 acre Strait Creek Preserve is is situated on the outer edge of the Sinking Springs impact crater where an ancient meteorite crashed into the earth over 300 million years ago, affecting the bedrock in an area four to five mile in radius. The geologic fall-out of this event is a crazy quilt bedrock exposure of sandstone, shales, and limestones which support a high diversity of plants and ecosystems. Strait Creek Prairie Bluffs provides a microcosm of what the plant communities and their distribution may have looked like prior to European immigration and intensive agriculture and settlement. Strait Creek has an astounding total plant count of 650 species!
In the spring, Strait Creek is not especially noted for showcases of flowers, but at the end of the day you will still see more species in bloom than on any other trip. Little bluestem-Indian grass barrens and prairies are dominant on soils derived from Peebles dolomite, hosting such species as Indian paintbrush, blue-eyed grass, and Leavenworthia uniflora. Massive exposures of Peebles dolomite exposed above Strait Creek bear wild columbine and dwarf hackberry. Oak-maple and mesophytic forests with a variety of spring wildflowers occur on the dolomitic substrates of the low slope and ravine habitats, while acidic oak-hickory forests are found growing on the thin soils of higher elevations.