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Park Trails

at Dr. Edmund A. Babler Memorial State Park

Dogwood Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 2 Miles View map

Dogwood Trail has several spurs and is located in the central portion of the park. This trail is considered strenuous due to steep inclines throughout the trail. From the trailhead, which it shares with Woodbine Trail, Dogwood Trail travels north. The trail crosses Equestrian Trail shortly after the beginning of the trail, before the beginning of the trail loop. It rises and falls several times over the maximum altitude change in the park, about 300 feet. The change in elevation allows you to see the wide variety of forest habitats found within the park. Chert, flint-like rock, is exposed in some of the slopes of dry ridges on this trail. The trail also goes through moist, green valleys in the low sections and heavily wooded sections are seen on the northeast side of the trail.

From the trailhead, a short spur leads to the beginning of the trail loop. From here, the trail follows Equestrian Trail for a short distance before turning right, just past the Cochran Shelter, off of Equestrian Trail. The trail then continues north east, where there is a short spur that leads to the Bates Picnic Area. Past this spur, the trail continues west, crossing Equestrian Trail again, and following it for a very short distance, where it leads to another spur which leads to the historic stable building. From here, the loop continues west and begins to turn south. Another spur leads to Babler Spring and a small cave. Continuing along the loop, the trail leads south, crossing Equestrian Trail twice more before leading back to the trailhead.  Dogwood and Woodbine trails can easily be combined to create a longer hike.

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2 Miles 2 hours Loop Green 1) Near the playground on Guy Park Drive; 2) At the third parking area on the right past the River Hills Visitor Center – park in the lot on the left next to the tennis/basketball court, then cross the grass baseball field to the trailhead, which is at the tree line

Equestrian Trail

  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

Length: 6 Miles View map

From the parking lot, head southwest away from the park entrance. The path goes through a dense patch of eastern red cedar before reaching an intersection with a paved road. Cross over the paved road and continue straight. In the forest, look for the oak and hickory trees common in the dry mesic forest. In the summer and early fall, patches of butterfly weed, Ohio horsemint and black-eyed Susan can be found. The trail continues parallel to the road and past a picnic area. This area is dominated by young redbud and sassafras trees in the understory. Cross over another road (this is the turn for the Jacob L. Babler Outdoor Education Center) and continue north on a ridge, where the dry mesic forest has a dominance of white oak canopy with an understory of sassafras and dogwood. After passing some deep ravines to the left, the forest will level out and the trail will pass through patches of aromatic sumac, where maples and spicebush are the dominant understory trees, making this a beautiful area to walk through when the fall color is at its peak. Crossing over an intersection with Hawthorne Trail (hiking only), Equestrian Trail continues north as it begins to decline. 

Continuing downhill, there is a mesic forest, where ferns, mosses and more dense understory trees, such as pawpaw become dominant. As the trail levels out near Wildhorse Creek, look for views of the creek on the left. The canopy here contains large sycamore trees and an occasional rare elm. After passing through a patch of pawpaw trees and dense shrubs, the trail widens and crosses over a cement bridge. Just after the bridge, look to the right for a giant sycamore tree with a diameter measuring more than 18 feet and a historic bridge built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. Continue straight, now headed east, up a steep hill. 

At the top of the hill, the trail passes the historic stables. This building, although not an operating stables, is used by the park for programming during the summer months. Like all the historic Civilian Conservation Corps buildings and structures in the park, the historic stables building is a beautiful example of the stonework and woodwork the CCC men did when building the park. Continue straight, past the barn and stables on the right, as the trail continues downhill. Woodpeckers and other birds are common sights in this section of the forest. At the bottom of the hill, the trail crosses a wet-weather creek bed (and after rain, you may cross through some water). The trail continues straight, past a turn on the left for an old equestrian entrance to the park. 

Continue past Bates Picnic Area just before passing under a historic stone tunnel built by the CCC. Continue uphill and intersect with Dogwood Trail (hiking only). From here, users can continue straight or turn right. The white connector trail (see description below) goes to the right. Staying straight is the perimeter equestrian loop through the mature forest known as Cochran Woods. At the top of the hill is the Cochran Picnic Shelter on the left. This shelter, like the historic stables, was built by the CCC in the 1930s as one of the original structures in the park. Past the shelter, there are rocky dolomite limestone outcroppings on the hillside. Continue parallel to the road (on the left) to an intersection on the trail. To the left is the spur to the equestrian entrance on Route BA (see description below). Continue straight to stay on the main perimeter trail. After a short distance, there is another intersection. Straight ahead is the White Connector Trail. To the left, the trail continues south on the equestrian perimeter loop towards the equestrian parking lot.

After a sharp right turn, the visitor center will appear at the top of a hill in front of you.  Eventually ascending from the low-lying forest, there will be a distinct difference in the type of trees and understory growth. After the  large sycamores, there will be oaks and hickories common in the mesic and dry-mesic forest. Just after passing through a patch of eastern red cedars, the trail continues parallel to Woodbine Trail (hiking only) until the paved path is reached. Continue on the paved path, going slightly to the left and passing under another historic CCC tunnel. Just after the tunnel, a trail to the right heads back the equestrian parking lot.

White Connector 1 Trail – 1 mile – White Blaze

This description goes from north to south

From where the white connector trail starts at the intersection with Dogwood trail, a trail goes right, along a portion of Dogwood Trail, through the mature forest known as Cochran Woods.  Dogwood Trail then continues straight at an intersection, where Equestrian Trail turns left, going downhill. The trail crosses Dogwood Trail one more time before approaching an old swimming pool. Veering left, Equestrian Trail then goes uphill and crosses Dogwood Trail yet again. Up and down these hills, there will be both winter and summer birds, who live in these woods. At the top of the hill, there is a fork. To the right connects with the perimeter loop, leading towards the equestrian parking lot. To the left is the spur to the equestrian entrance on Route BA.

Spur to Equestrian Entrance on BA – 1.25 miles – Brown Blaze

This spur crosses over the road and continues towards the main equestrian entrance to the park. On the right is the life-size bronze statue of Edmund Babler. The trail continues, slowly going downhill through the forest. At the bottom of the hill, it crosses a shallow creek bed before beginning to ascend again. As the trail enters a patch of eastern red cedars, there is an old paved road. These cedars provide both food and shelter for a number of small birds and are a wonderful place for bird watching in the winter months. The trail continues to the right on the old paved road for about 200 feet before turning left. The trail continues gradually going downhill, travelling through another patch of eastern red cedars, before exiting the park on Route BA.

 

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
6 Miles 6 hours Loop Brown Off Guy Park Drive in the first parking area on the left past the River Hills Visitor Center

Hawthorn Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 1.25 Miles View map

The shortest of the trails at the park, it shows a diversity of geology not found elsewhere in the park. A short distance from the trailhead, before the loop begins, the trail crosses Equestrian Trail. Continuing straight past this intersection, the trail goes along the northeast side of a narrow ridge and returns on the southwestern side. A marked difference in plants and habitat is found on the two aspects of the ridge. The prevailing hot and dry, southwestern winds give a glade-like appearance to the section of trail along the side of the ridge facing the southwest. The soil is dryer, plants are sparser and in many areas, the underlying rock is exposed. In recent years, naturalists at the park have been working to restore the glade. On the northeastern side of the trail, plants are thicker and greener, the soil is deeper and groves of pawpaw trees flourish on the slope and in the valley below the trail.

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.25 Miles 1 hour Loop Yellow

Across street from Alta Picnic Shelter parking area on Wirth Drive

Paved Bicycle Path

  • Bicycling/Mountain Biking
  • Hiking

Length: 1.75 Miles View map

(The main trailhead is in the middle of the trail, so description here begins from the campground end.)

Paved Bicycle Trail travels from the campground to the central portion of the park. From the campground, the trail winds northwest. It passes a small cemetery on the right just across from an access road for park staff. Continuing on the trail, the path leads down a hill and through a tunnel built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The trail continues downhill from here, steep in places, and passes Crystal Spring, one of two continuously flowing springs in the park. It is on this sheltered section that the moist runoff creek that parallels the trail provides verdant foliage. Pawpaw, spicebush, jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium and other deep green plants grow along each side of the trail. The trail passes the trailhead and the parking area (where a small footbridge leads from the trailhead to the trail). From here, the trail continues north, where it intersects and follows Woodbine trail. Here, the linear trail ends near the other trailhead parking lot.

 

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.75 Miles 50 minutes, one way Linear Yellow 1) At the first parking area on the right past the River Hills Visitor Center on Guy Park Drive; 2) At the second parking area on the right past the River Hills Visitor Center on Guy Park Drive

Virginia Day Memorial Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 1.25 Miles View map

This trail was named after Virginia Day, who spent some of the last years of her life as a volunteer naturalist working at the park, encouraging people to study nature with enthusiasm. With the trailhead located just across from the visitor center, this trail provides a look into the beauty of old growth forests. On this trail is a short loop, about .5-mile in length, which provides an opportunity for a brief glimpse of the forest. From the trailhead, the trail quickly descends into a valley through a mixture of trees, predominately oak and hickory, until it reaches a pawpaw patch. From here, the short loop stays in this valley, traversing through a cedar patch and then turning back towards the visitor center. The long loop continues further south and west through the valley. The trail continues on to a ridge on the far side of the loop. At that point, a spur and connector trail branches off, which can be used to reach the bicycle path and Woodbine Trail. The trail then descends back into the valley, following a creek bed. As the trail continues through the valley, it reaches the spur that goes back to the trailhead.

This trail, like many at the park, provides ample opportunity for observing concepts such as forest layers, changes in tree diversity from ridge to valley, types of trees at various levels of available moisture, and the process of secondary succession in a recovering forest.

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
1.25 Miles 1 hour Loop Red Across from the River Hills Visitor Center on Guy Park Drive

Woodbine Trail

  • Hiking

Length: 2 Miles View map

Woodbine Trail is located in the central portion of the park and shares some trail length with both the Paved Bicycle Path and Equestrian Trail for short distances. It shares a trailhead with Dogwood Trail, which goes north from the trailhead as Woodbine Trail travels south. From the trailhead, this trail follows the valley, crossing a small footbridge and through a stand of sweet gum trees, likely planted to mark a homestead boundary more than 100 years ago. Just past the sweet gum trees, the trail reaches Paved Bicycle Path. Turning left, the trail continues along the bicycle path, past Crystal Spring, one of two continuously flowing springs in the park. It is on this sheltered section that the moist runoff creek that parallels the trail provides verdant foliage. Pawpaw, spicebush, jack-in-the-pulpit, trillium and other deep green plants grow along each side of the trail. Near the top of the hill, the trail departs the bicycle path and follows Equestrian Trail for a short distance. The trail then turns left off of Equestrian Trail and traverses a ridge that gets plenty of sunshine and provides some of the earliest fall color for viewing. Dogwood and Woodbine trails can easily be combined to create a longer hike.

Length Estimated Hiking Time Type Blazes Trailhead
2 Miles 1 hour, 30 minutes Loop Blue Near the playground on Guy Park Drive