Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve is one of the hidden treasures of Licking County. Spring is finally here. Let's start it off right.
- Geologically spectacular narrow sandstone gorge cut by the Licking River
- Excellent display of spring wildflowers.
The prime feature of this preserve is a narrow, east-west gorge cut by the Licking River through the famous Black Hand sandstone formation. It also boasts the only bike trail in Ohio's state nature preserve system; more than 4 miles of bike trail wind through the preserve.
We will meet at the main parking lot around 10:00. We will hike the Blackhand Trail (a paved bike trail) up to the Chestnut Trail. We'll hit the Quarry Rim Trail on the way back. All in all this looks like about 7-8 miles of hiking. Guesstimating about 3 hours.
The preserve is rich in natural as well as early Ohio history.The name Blackhand, for which the preserve is named, originated from a dark, hand-shaped Indian petroglyph which was engraved on the face of a massive sandstone cliff along the north side of the river. The engraving was destroyed in 1828 when canal builders dynamited the cliff face, during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal, which runs through the gorge. Sections of the canal towpaths and canal locks may be seen from the trails along the river.
The dry hilltops are dominated by oak-hickory mature woods along with Virginia pine and mountain laurel. Yellow birch, cherry birch and eastern hemlock grow on northerly exposures. It is an excellent site for viewing woodland spring wildflowers.
We will meet at Buffalo Wings and Rings (6325 E. Broad) at 9:15.
For those planning to meet the group there, here are directions:
Located in Licking County 8 miles east of Newark on State Route 16, exit southeast on State Route 146 and proceed 1/4 mile to County Road 273. The preserve's entrance and parking lot are 1.5 miles south on County Road 273 just outside of Toboso
Park Map: http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/Portals/3/publications/brochures/blackhandgorge.pdf