Rock Run Wilderness

780 acres in Adams County

We now have the opportunity to expand the preserve by 23

acres, which will nearly complete the preservation of the

ENTIRE Rock Run watershed! Click here to learn more!


Breathtakingly Deep Ravine. Rock Run Wilderness is an Arc owned 780-acre region protecting the Appalachian hill country surrounding the exceptionally deep ravine of Rock Run, a small but pristine creek that flows directly out of the Shawnee Forest into the Ohio River. Rock Run lies near the southern borders of the state forest north of the Ohio River, east of Rome, and west of Buena Vista. This section of the Ohio River is known as Sandy Springs. Here the north shore of the river is bordered by wide, flat expanses of deep sand terraces.

Rock Run’s highly dissected wild Appalachian hill-country is exceptionally scenic, highly bio-diverse, and completely forested. IT IS ARGUABLY THE WILDEST WILDERNESS AREA LEFT IN THE STATE. The hillsides show exposed layers of both shale and sandstone. The lower elevations of the hills protect a hemlock-black birch forest ecosystem, the upper elevations an oak-hickory forest.

Our Conservation Goal for Rock Run. The Arc of Appalachia’s goal is to complete the conservation protection of the entire drainage of Rock Run. To protect an entire watershed anywhere in Ohio is in most cases simply not feasible, but the relatively small size of Rock Run’s drainage and its location in the heart of Shawnee State Forest makes it a leading candidate for success. Since 2003, the Arc has been buying private property in the watershed, acquiring private properties that has never been part of the State Forest. Our goal is to make Rock Run one of the best protected watershed in all of Ohio!  We have already won a Clean Ohio grant for the effort. Now, all that remains is to raise our share of the funds.

Our Partners. The Arc has many partners working toward the goal of protecting Rock Run, including the Ohio Division of Forestry, the Ohio Environmental Council (OEC) and Save our Shawnee Forest. OEC is currently working with the Ohio Division of Forestry (DOF) with a visionary request to put all of the watershed in a special forestry designation under which all timber harvests will cease. If successful, Rock Run could be one of the best protected watersheds in all of Ohio. Learn more about their campaign by clicking here. 

Legendary Wildness.  The 300-foot depth of Rock Run’s valley is stunning, the topography including what we suspect is Ohio’s greatest elevation change from ridgeline to stream bed per horizontal foot. The forest shelters bobcat, timber rattlesnakes, and over 10 rare and endangered plants. Rock Run’s lower elevations contain a rare forest association of black birch, hemlock, and sweetgum. To our knowledge, Rock Run is the only location giving this type of forest permanent protection in Ohio. Not surprisingly, Rock Run’s forest floor botanicals are spectacular, boasting rare flowers and an abundance of fern species. Learn More About Rock Run’s Natural Treasures.

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Rock Run's steep hillsides are composed of layers of shale and sandstone, and the creek in many areas is filled with a rubble of small and large pieces of sandstone. Photo by John Srofe.
A view of Rock Run