This article originally appeared in Dayton City Paper
Surrounded by trees walking down a staircase made of rock your eyes might catch glimpse of sun patches that sneak between leaves from the canopy overhead. It’s highly possible that you’ll encounter butterflies, squirrels, deer or any other sort of local wildlife. Following the sound of trickling water there is a small fall over rocks where the sunlight sparkles across the waters dancing surface. This is a scene you can easily encounter at any of the hiking trails located within and around Yellow Springs. As the weather heats up outside and the great outdoors call to you in a voice too loud to ignore, I suggest you think about hitting up this area.
“Right to the east of Yellow Springs is Glen Helen nature preserve,” said Lora Curliss the village manager of Yellow Springs. “And it has over 1000 acres of forest with many hiking trails, including a nature center, and a rafter center.”
This nature preserve is constantly running events that are both educational and fun.
“The best thing for people to do is go to their website and find out what nature programing they’re offering and usually there are several things going on every week,” said Curliss.
There is of course another big park in the area. John Bryan had been a wealthy business man with a deep love of nature. In 1896 he purchased 335 acres. Bryan built “Riverside farm” which included “World’s Largest” barn. Bryans barn had stood four stories tall, 206 feet long, and 120 feet wide. Today there are camp grounds where that barn had once stood and all 335 acres are going to good use.
“John Bryan state park is just a little bit further east of Yellow Springs on State route 343,” Curliss said. “It’s the only state park in Green County Ohio. It’s part of the Buck Creek John Bryan state park region. It’s a 752 acre state park. It surrounds Clifton Gorge, and it has camping and hiking.”
It’s easy to confuse John Bryan with Clifton Gorge. After all there are located on the same street and even seem to share the same trees.
“Clifton Gorge is a state nature preserve. Which is just, the Ohio department of natural resources, they have different types of wild areas, they have state parks they have nature preserves, they have hunting areas. This is Clifton Gorge state nature preserve and its 268 acres also on state route 343 located adjacent to John Bryan state park,” explained Curliss.
If you enjoy walks but really want to take your dog, small child or bike don’t worry because Yellow Springs has something for you too.
“The other big recreational amenity we have here in Yellow springs is the little Miami scenic bike trail. [This] connects us to Springfield, to Xenia, and to Cincinnati. It’s about a 50 mile section of trail that connects all those communities,” Curliss said. “A popular section for people to ride of the Little Miami scenic trail is between Xenia station in Xenia Ohio and Yellow Springs station which is in Yellow Springs. That’s a 10 mile section and there are public restrooms and other facilities at both stations.”
If you know you want to get out and enjoy nature but aren’t sure which place is best here are a few of the biggest differences that I have noticed first hand. The bike trail is great for kids in strollers and has easy access to bathrooms. John Bryan has multiple camping areas, pick nick areas and even some basketball courts. I think that would be an ideal place to take a group especially if you plan a longer stay. The hiking at Clifton Gorge is scenic and beautiful while being considerably less crowded than Glen Helen. Glen Helen of course has the Nature center and various programing so you can learn something and even get a break of air conditioning. The closeness of Glen Helen to the town of Yellow springs has to be its greatest bonus. You can easily park at the park hike all morning, then spend the rest of the day in town enjoying the shops and food.
If you do plan to spent hours hiking there are some things you should keep in mind.
“You want to make sure you dress appropriately for the weather. Make sure you have a waterproof jacket or something with you,” said Curliss. “You want to bring food, something to eat and plenty of water. The other thing people need to do is wear appropriate hiking shoes. And of course sunscreen and sunglasses are always helpful. People need to realize they’re going into the woods and you always need to be prepared for that.”
“We do occasionally have people get lost in our woods. With the day and age of cell phones people usually call and say hey I’m lost in the woods. We’ll send the police out or somebody and we’ll find them. So a cell phone is good too. I suggest a fully charged cell phone just in case of emergency.”
With all that in mind all that’s left is to determine is which nature experience is best for you. Come prepared, enjoy nature and remember this classic trail etiquette: “take only pictures leave only footprints.”
Glen.antiochcollege.org to download trail map, directions, parking, and sites of interest.
www.miamivalleytrails.org or www.gcparkstrails.com for information on the Little Miami scenic bike trail.