Great Day Hikes: Oak Ridge Trail at
Length: 2.2 miles one-way; 4.4 miles there & return (5.1 kilometers one-way)
Difficulty: Very easy
Location: End of Hamley Run Road, Dover Township; or Glen Ebon Road (County Road 4) at the Hocking River, York Township, Athens County, Ohio
Directions: Take US-50 east of Athens to County Road 56/65 (you will see a sign for the nature preserve at the turn); turn onto Brimstone Road, which will immediately curve sharply to the left, then to the right; at 0. mile, turn left onto Deep Hollow Road (County Road 65) and take it just over one mile to the entrance on the left.
The Oak Ridge Trail at Marie J. Desonier State Nature Preserve goes through a nice sample of southeast Ohio hardwood forest. Most of the trail is in completely wild surroundings.
This hike is entirely within the Desonier State Nature Preserve.
As with any Ohio State Nature Preserve, neither dogs nor hunting are allowed. No plants, berries, mushrooms, etc. may be picked, and nothing but trash may be removed.
To reach the preserve, take the Appalachian Highway (OH-32, US-50) east from Athens. Look for the sign on the highway point left towards Desonier Nature Preserve. This is the only guide sign you'll see.
Turn left from the highway onto Road. There will immediately be a turnoff to the right, and a sharp curve to the left so the road parallels the highway, then a turnoff to the left and a sharp curve to the right. After this, the next left, Deep Hollow Road, will be the road to take. This is about a mile from the highway.
Deep Hollow Road is a gravel road that will descend down into the valley. You'll see the entrance to the nature preserve about a mile down. The parking lot for the preserve is permanently closed off; you'll have to park in the driveway. Because of the gravel and steep downhill angle, don't park here in the snow and ice unless you have a good four-wheel-drive vehicle.
Walk down the driveway into the parking area where you'll find a kiosk or information board. Begin the hike by walking the trail downstream. This is on an old road grade. Soon you will turn left across the stream, which is Jordan Run, across a small bridge, then walk a fairly flat trail up a tributary stream valley. Note how flat the stream valley floors are, between steep valley walls. After a while, you'll turn to the left where another small valley comes in from the left, and you'll hike up a steep trail. This will take you to the head of the sidestream valley, and almost but not quite to the top of the ridge. The trail will stay in this position, right on the property line next to private property, for a while. Then you'll come to a place where the trail goes higher on the ridge, and a side trail branches off to the left.
This is a short, dead-end spur trail that goes through a meadow to the tip of the ridge and stops. You can see a meadow in the early stages of succession here.
Continuing on the loop trail, you'll go downhill into a small side valley for a distance, then again reach Jordan Run. You'll cross it on another bridge, then walk the old road grade downstream along the creek to the beginning. Be careful in this stretch, since there are a number of wet spots.