OHIO OUTDOOR NOTEBOOK
By Laura Jones, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Ohioís Tapestry of Fall Color Provides A Great Backdrop For Autumn Adventures
Itís hard to believe Ohio is already saying goodbye to the warm days of summer, yet making their departure more palatable are thoughts of ripe apples, the scent of wood smoke and the beauty of Fall Color.
In fact, there are many reasons to glory in this shift of seasons, such as hiking and biking along color-washed woodland trails or paddling placid lake waters that reflect a soft medley of fall foliage. Anglers know lower temperatures mean improved fishing opportunities, and campers find autumnís clear blue skies, warm days and crisp nights irresistible. Avian enthusiasts are already in their element as multitudes of migrating bird species wing their way across the state toward more southerly climates.
As fallís canopy of color spreads across Ohio, here Ė in no particular order Ė are some great places you might consider for an outdoor autumn adventure.
In the Appalachian foothills of Ross County, fall color kicks it up a notch at Scioto Trail State Forest. Rugged ridge tops and wooded valleys are the hallmarks of this densely forested hill country. More than 25 miles of trails wind through impressive stands of oak and hickory, leading hikers to scenic overlooks that offer breathtaking, color-drenched vistas of the Scioto River Valley. Valley.
If you want a taste of spectacular fall color without hiking through the woods, then jump in the car and take a leisurely drive along some of Ohio's most picturesque highways. You can find a list of these regional day trips by visiting ohiodnr.com on the Internet or calling 1-800-BUCKEYE.
In Erie County along the Lake Erie coast is Old Woman Creek State Nature Preserve. A diversity of fall colors and textures can be seen in this area of open water, sand beaches, marshlands, upland forests and old crop fields Ė itís also one of Ohioís top birding locations. Visitors to the preserve will find a 1.5-mile trail system, which includes a winding asphalt path through an oak-hickory forest to an observation deck overlooking the estuary. This scenic spot is accessible by wheelchair. A second trail leads hikers across elevated boardwalks, through an upland forest and across old farm fields before returning to the visitor center.
For good inland birding locations, try Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area in Wyandot County, Big Island Wildlife Area in Marion County, Hoover Reservoir in Delaware County and the Portage Lakes in Summit County.
You can combine a day of fall fishing, paddling and leaf peeping with a trip to western Ohioís Kiser Lake State Park. Framed by gently rolling wooded hills in Champaign County, the 396-acre lake has ample shoreline fishing and five fishing piers. The lakeís clean, clear waters lure anglers to cast a line for a variety of sportfish, including, including saugeye, largemouth bass, bluegill, channel cat and crappie. Motor boats are prohibited, so paddlers will find these tranquil waters perfect for a reflective day on the lake. For those without a boat, call ahead to the park managerís office and inquire about rentals.
For many in the Buckeye State, the quintessential Fall Color destination is southeast Ohio. With more than 2,500 acres, quiet and remote Burr Oak State Park in Morgan County is also a great choice for an autumn camping retreat. Imagine setting up camp amid hickory, oak, maple, beech, dogwood and tulip trees, as their brightly painted leaves bring the steep hills and valleys alive with the vibrant colors of fall. If a tent isnít your style, consider one of the parkís rent-a-camp options, a cottage or a guest room at the lodge.
Beginning September 25, Fall Color updates are available each week through the Ohio Travel and Tourism Hotline, 1-800-BUCKEYE. Internet users can access the Fall Color Update report at ohiodnr.com, which will also feature photographs showing how fall color is progressing across the state.
Iíve given you just a very small sampling of the outstanding places in Ohio to hike, camp, fish, boat and observe wildlife. The stateís forests are healthy and support a diversity of tree species, which ensure Ohioans will enjoy spectacular displays of fall fireworks. While the door may be closing on warm-weather activities, autumn adventures across Ohio are opening up for you.
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