Due to continued concerns about the covid-19 pandemic, the Forest Museum and connected trails, Etawah Woods, Valley of the Ancients and Barrier Ridge, will be closed until April, 2021. During this time we will be taking this opportunity to make long-deferred improvements and renovations to the trails and museum that require warm weather to complete. All other trails at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary remain open.
The Arc of Appalachia Preserves stewards highly protected nature preserves. Please read complete regulations before visiting, only some of which are summarized here: Remain on trails at all times, walking in single file to protect bulbs of native wildflowers bordering the trail. Do not disturb, pick nor collect flowers, plants, rocks, or wildlife. Hunting, caving, fishing, trail biking, rock climbing, wading, camp fires and swimming are prohibited. Many Arc trails border dangerous, potentially life-threatening cliffs: Trails can be narrow, uneven, and steep; with possible ticks, poison ivy, and stinging nettle. Keep children close at hand, and hike at your own risk. Click here for a complete list of dog-friendly trails. Most trails do not permit dogs.
Downloads: Trail Map
Appalachian Forest Museum & Museum Hiking Trails are currently closed for the 2020 season. We will re-open April, 2021.
All Other Hiking Trails at the Sanctuary are open sunrise to sunset year-round, weather permitting. Sorry, dogs are not permitted on Sanctuary trails except at Crow Point and Ridgeview Farm Trails.
Scroll for directions and descriptions of all Highlands Nature Sanctuary Trails.
2. Barrett’s Rim Trailhead — 2 trails
Directions: Follow Cave Road south until you pass Browning Road on the right. Turn into the very next parking lot on the right. It is a gravel parking lot with a wooden fence at its entrance.
Barrett’s Rim Trail: 2.5 mile moderate loop. A mostly level trail with one short descent and ascent. The trail follows the Rocky Fork Creek along the base of a vertical rock wall. The area is often referred to as the “Jewel of the Rocky Fork Gorge.”
Roundtop Loop: 1.75 mile moderate loop. Roundtop winds through a rich sugar maple forest and through a chestnut oak shale barrens. The trail makes a gradual climb to the ridgetop and back down.
3. Cedar Run Trailhead — 1 Trail
Directions: Turn left onto Hwy 50 from Cave Road and follow Route 50 for 3 miles. After you pass Browning Road on your left, look for a gravel parking lot on the left in front of an old silo. The trail begins at the parking lot.
Cedar Run Trail: 2.5 mile moderate loop. Trail begins by following an old farm lane into an open meadow and then enters the woods as it continues to the Cedar Run Gorge. Trail provides beautiful views of rock walls and fern-covered boulders along spring-fed Cedar Run. A spur leads to a small waterfall nearly hidden by a fallen rock.
4. Miller State Nature Preserve — 3 trails
Owned and Operated by Ohio Division of Natural Areas & Preserves
Directions: Follow Cave Road south until it dead ends, then turn right on Barrett’s Mill Road. Cross over the Rocky Fork Creek. Miller’s parking lot, which is signed, will be on the right, midway up the first hill. Drive or walk down the long lane to the trailhead. Miller boasts classic Rocky Fork scenery with rock-scapes, sparkling streams, and spring flowers. Three trails are available for hiking: the Falls Trail, a 1 mile moderate loop, the Tuliptree Trail, a 0.75 mile easy to moderate loop, and the Arch Trail, a 0.5 mile moderate loop.
5. Kamelands Trailhead — 1 trail
Directions: Follow Cave Road north to Hwy 50 and turn left (west). The parking lot is exactly 0.5 miles down the road on your right. Park near the old barn and walk towards Hwy 50. To the right of the driveway a trail sign leads you underneath Hwy 50 through an old cattle tunnel and onto the Kamelands Trail.
Kamelands Trail: 2 mile moderate loop. Mostly level trail. This trail leads through rolling meadows to the wooded corridor bordering the high bluffs of Rocky Fork Creek, directly across the gorge from the Forest Museum. This trail boasts immense ancient oaks, interesting rock formations, and an optional spur trail down to the canyon floor.
6. Crow Point Trailhead — 1 trail
DOG FRIENDLY on 6-foot leash
Directions: Follow Cave Road north. Just before you reach Hwy 50, turn right at the mowed entrance. The parking lot is signed.
Ashy Sunflower Trail: 1 mile easy loop, mostly level. This trail runs through a planted prairie that is stunningly beautiful in early- to mid-August when the rare but showy ashy sunflower bloom. Dog Friendly – but must be on a 6-foot leash.
7. Ridgeview Farm Trailhead — 1 trail
DOG FRIENDLY on 6-foot leash
Farm Restoration Model and American Chestnut Demonstration Orchard
Directions: Follow Cave Road north to Hwy 50. Turn left. One mile west of Rainsboro on Hwy 50, turn south onto State Rt. 753 at the blinking yellow light. After 1.8 miles, turn left at the sign for Beaver Cemetery on a gravel lane. Keep left at the fork and follow the lane back to the cemetery, where you can park. Trail entrance is signed.
Ridgeview Farm’s Restoration Trail: 1.5 mile easy to moderate loop trail features educational signs interpreting the biodiversity-boosting practices that are taking place on this old farmland. The trail winds through gently rolling open fields and into a swamp forest that shelters skunk cabbage and marsh marigolds. Along the trail is an Educational Chestnut Orchard featuring three species of chestnuts and blight resistant F-3 hybrids. Listen for orchard orioles and the rare Henslow’s sparrow, Ridgeview’s signature birds. This preserve exists to demonstrate that restoring biodiversity is possible on an abandoned farm.
8. Sanctuary West Trailhead — 1 trail
Directions: Follow Cave Road north to Hwy 50. Turn left. One mile west of Rainsboro, turn south onto State Rt. 753 at the blinking yellow light. Follow OH 753 for 2.8 miles. The mowed lot will be on your left, on a lower elevation than the road. Use caution when leaving the parking lot – this is a blind exit.
Listening Trail: 0.5 mile moderate to difficult trail following the bluffs of the Rocky Fork with a spur down to the creek. Gorgeous views of the Rocky Fork Creek and handsome rock formations.
9. Maude’s Cedar Narrows Trailhead — 2 trails
Directions: Follow Cave Road north to Hwy 50. Turn left. One mile west of Rainsboro, turn south onto State Rt. 753 at the blinking yellow light. 1.2 miles down 753 turn right onto McCoppin Mill. Follow McCoppin Mill for another 1.3 miles. After crossing over the Rocky Fork Bridge, take the next left on Skeen Road. Follow Skeen around the bend. When the road straightens, (at the 0.3 mile mark), turn onto the first lane on your left. Look for tall hickory trees shading the trailhead parking lot.
Prothonotary Trail: 0.5 mile moderate loop with a descent into the canyon floor and back up along the rim. Gorgeous views of the Rocky Fork Creek, rich spring wildflowers, and interesting rock formations.
Maude’s Cedar Narrows Trail: 1.5 mile moderate loop with a 50-foot rise and fall in elevation. Maude’s comes off the right loop of Prothonotary Trail and returns to the trailhead parking lot. The trail follows the foot of the bluffs overlooking the Rocky Fork Creek, then up Franklin Branch tributary. Marvelous spring wildflower displays and rock formations. Great grassland birding on the return route.