We hiked a 1.1-mile boardwalk trail (which must have cost a fortune to build) through this nature preserve that has several wetlands, a cedar forest and savanna. A mucky, dense bog and a fen appeared along the trail area while the west branch and east branch of Cedar Run flowed by. Along the trail were wildflowers, rare orchids, carnivorous plants, dangerous poison sumac trees, and signs warning us to beware eastern massasauga rattlesnakes. Most of the time I felt like I was in a boggy but pretty cedar swamp. The Cedar Bog Nature Preserve is 446 acres and owned by the Ohio Historical Connection and is designated a National Natural Landmark.
Hiking Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Elizabeth Kelly
Date: June 12, 2023
In the 1820’s during a hike from Urbana to Cincinnati, John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman planted a grove of apples trees just west of Dorf Drive in German Village.
On September 23, 2010, honoring the 236th birthday of John Chapman, the City of Moraine rededicated a plaque and planted four second generation apple trees, descendants of the original apple trees planted by Johnny Appleseed. I planned and organized the event and hired Hank Fincken, living history performer who portrayed Johhny Appleseed and spoke at an assembly at the nearby elementary school and at the tree dedication ceremony. He joined school kids and Moraine officials planting the trees. Photos of the event are under the “Moraine Historical Markers and Moraine History” section of my website.
Down in a small gorge, the main .6-mile yellow trail winds through the thick trees and ascends north from the dedication site to Pinnacle Park. A blue spur trail ascends to the Pinnacle Park Tot Lot and a red spur trail leads northeast. Most of the yellow trail meanders parallel to a creek where I found rocks with many fossils and small newts. I often see deer, squirrels and there have been rare coyote sightings. I held trail cleanups annually through the Moraine Volunteer Program and added trailhead signs and footbridges across three creek crossings.
My family have hiked this trail at least thirty times over the past 25 years but on June 12th our two-and-a-half-year-old granddaughter hiked the trail for the first time. She was so excited to discover and announce whenever she saw the yellow or blue trail markings on the trees. I found a large deer skull just off the blue trail that day. Recently, three deer came walking out of the north trailhead area.
Running Team: Rosie Miller, Dave Miller, Jacque Miller, Matt Miller, Holly Miller, Shane Miller
The four-mile section of the GMRT that runs through Moraine has been well used by the Miller family for biking and running for four decades. The bike path runs parallel to the Great Miami River and one section had a “tunnel of trees” which made temperatures cooler on hot summer days. The Moraine section was a short drive from our house and was always the starting point for recreational jogs while pushing two kids in the double stroller, one child in the single stroller while Jacque would bike. Jacque would count groundhogs and we saw deer, beaver, snakes, and other critters along the bike path. As a tradition after running, we would stop at the large pond along East River Road and feed the ducks and geese.
The Moraine section was also the launching pad for serious training runs. I would run a 2-mile section back and forth several times when training for a half marathon. Rosie and I would also begin here or just south of here and bike north or south on 14-to-25-mile bicycle treks. My running days seem to be over due to cancer, but we still enjoy the scenery biking along this section of the bike trail as well of the memories when the kids were with us.
We left the top of Little Pinnacle and descended a little saddle to the base of nearby Big Pinnacle. Wildflowers, black-eyed Susans, trees and shrubs covered both sides of the short connector trail. The 1.1-mile trail circled the giant knob looking rock. Walls of bare, sheer rock rose over 200 feet to the top which was covered by vegetation. The Big Pinnacle is a sanctuary for nesting ravens and raptors and as we hiked, we could see the large birds circling overhead in the updrafts. The trail was tight, rocky and had occasional wildflowers. Completing the circle trail around the base, we re-connected with the saddle trail and ascended across to Little Pinnacle. We then hiked a short distance on Pilot Creek Trail which ascends all the way down the mountain through a forest of trees to the visitor center.
This quartzite isolated mountain rock is capped by two prominent pinnacles. It can be seen from many miles down the interstate highway majestically poking up in the sky. Big Pinnacle is a 2,241 peak, higher than Little Pinnacle. We hiked .5 mile to the top of Little Pinnacle which gave us expansive views of North Carolina and Virginia. We saw three monarch butterflies which was exciting since we have only seen two in Ohio this summer. A unique educational sign compared wingspans of large birds that fly in the area. I couldn’t help but pose and show that my wingspan is equal to a bald eagle although the eagle has more hair than me.
Hiking Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Justin Eller, Holly Eller
Date: August 13, 2023
Celebrating Justin and Holly’s 4th anniversary we visited The Wilds. The trail is located at the Wilds, a huge safari park, conservation center and habitat for rhinos, bison, camels, giraffe, zebras and many more animals. After zip lining, we walked over to this one-mile trail. We hiked past black-eyed Susan’s, milkweed, and countless beautiful flowers, plants and pollinators that provide nectar for butterflies and bees. I counted a half dozen Monarch or Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies eating the nectar plus hundreds of yellow jackets and bees.
We began at the Mad River Gorge and Nature Preserve and hiked to the circular Top of the Gorge Trail. We then descended steep steps passing natural dolomite cliffs. Hiking east along the Mad River Trail, we passed more cliffs reaching heights of up to 50 feet used by rock climbers. Different locations on the cliff face were called Mike’s Wall, Ship Rock, and Amusement Wall. Farther along the trail is the Mad River on the left and a beautiful streamside forest on the right teeming with wildflowers and lots of birds. We then hiked back west eventually through the western wetlands and back up the gorge cliff past the Rusty Ravine and Block Yard Boulders. Overall, we hiked about 2.25 miles and enjoyed the cliffs, river, and forest.
Hiking Team: Dave Miller, Rosie Miller, Jacque Kelly
Date: June 4, 2023
At the northeast section of Shawnee Lookout Park, we hiked the 1.3-mile Blue Jacket Trail plus one mile of the Little Turtle Trail. Most of the trails were shaded wooded ravines and we crossed several small streams. The Trail is named after Chief Little Turtle of the Miami Indian Tribe. We observed an Indian Mound and later an overlook viewing the Ohio River and the state of Kentucky to the south. Nearby was an historic log cabin built in 1795. After the hike we enjoyed dinner at the new Roy Rogers Restaurant in nearby Cleves.
At Greene County’s Indian Mound Preserve, we hiked the Falls Trail to the overlook area to view the beautiful Cedar Cliff Falls. The 23-foot-tall waterfall gracefully drops into Massie Creek Gorge. The falls was constructed in 1887 as a stone dam for a flour mill. The falls replaced the stone dam after it had been destroyed by a flood. Due to a large rain the night before, the creek was full, and the waterfall came thundering down.