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Natural Bridge and Beech Ridge trails offer a secluded hike into an area of Ohio that is seldom trudged. Geological, botanical and wildlife beauty abound.

There are two trails at Rockbridge Nature Preserve for a total of 1.75 miles. They virtually make a large loop with a connector trail in the beginning and a short spur on the backside of the loop.

From the parking lot walk to the trail junction and bear left onto Natural Bridge Trail, which explores the west wall of a deep ravine. Here you'll be treated to sights of flowering dogwood and lovely Virginia pine. When you cross the creekbed, views of the Hocking River unfold. Beech Ridge Trail intersects on the right. Do not hike this trail just yet. Instead proceed straight ahead to Ohio's largest natural bridge which is composed of Blackhand sandstone. Just beyond is a 50-foot waterfall with a recessed cave. The trail continues to the Hocking River at which point you'll turn around and retrace your steps back to Beech Ridge Trail. When you reach Beech Ridge turn left thus reentering the loop trail. As you emerge into a lovely second growth hardwood forest expansive seasonal views are your reward. After a short distance of hiking along the ridge, the trail dips south into a ravine, crosses the creekbed, and carries you southbound back to the parking lot.

It should be noted that this combination trail provides wonderful opportunities for wildlife viewing. Inhabiting this seldom-used state preserve are ruffed grouse, white-tailed deer, gray fox, wild turkey, raccoon, skunk, and flurry of bird life. Wildflowers species include Indian pipe, dwarf iris and more.

Directions: From Rockbridge, OH, Travel 1.5 miles southeast on U.S. Route 23. Proceed south on Crawford-Starner Road (Township Road 504); then turn immediately east on Dalton Road (Township Road 503) and proceed 0.5 mile to the parking lot and trailhead.

Distance: 1.75 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

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Rockbridge Nature Preserve, Ohio

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The details, dates, and prices mentioned here were accurate at the time of publication.

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