Field Trip to the Arc’s Ohio River Bluffs

& Whipple State Nature Preserve

General Hike Location: One miles west of the town of Manchester on the Ohio River.

Driving Distance from the Appalachian Forest Museum: One hour and fifteen minutes. About 1.5 hours from Cincinnati.

Time & Meeting Location: Please meet at Ohio River Bluffs trailhead at 10:15. The hike starts at 10:30 am.

Length: 3.5 total miles of hiking

Bring: Be sure to bring a bottle of water and a daypack to carry your lunch. We may break for lunch in Manchester. Check with your leader – you may be able to leave your lunches in the car.

Difficulty is moderately difficult due to length, elevation change and narrow uneven trails. We will hike the trail to the top of the ridge at the Ohio River Bluffs, which leads uphill for approximately 1/3 mile on a steep ascent, and then follows a loop along the relatively flat ridge top. The trail is narrow and cut into a steep hillside, with one or two ten foot sections that are very steep and a bit slippery. Whipple offers well maintained trails with only one 20 foot ascent and descent.


Ohio River Bluffs has arguably the most outstanding wildflower display in the state, especially in early spring when the lower and mid-elevations of the steep hillsides are carpeted wall to wall with flowers. The Pilgrimage is timed to catch the showy dwarf larkspur in bloom and if we have an early spring, wands wild hyacinths dotting throughout the hillsides. The upper bluffs boast drifts of twinleaf plants, which bloom in late March and early April, but whose foliage remains mysterious and attractive. The ridgetop gives outstanding views of the Ohio River Valley and the hills of Kentucky. We will be sure to visit a nearby roadside whose borders are carpeted with thousands of Blue Eyed Mary’s, one of the greatest floral spectacles of Ohio.

Whipple State Nature Preserve is a beautiful example of a nearly mature oak hickory forest overlooking a ravine that is absolutely lush with a high diversity of showy spring flowers. The preserve’s dolomite cliffs, slump blocks and sinkholes, as well as its many specimens of tall and stately trees, provides stunning scenery for hikers. Both trails are Pilgrimage favorites.

If we have time, we will take a run down nearby Gilkison Hollow Road, which has acres of carpets of Blue Eyed Mary’s along a small stream, and hillsides rising above that are covered with dwarf larkspurs. This enchanting landscape is guaranteed to burn indelibly into your consciousness as a cherished memory.

Solomans Seal
Field of Dwarf Larkspur
Blue Eyed Mary at Ohio River Bluffs