December 19, 2013

A Winter Hike at Slate Run

Bill and I just got back from a great road trip to Florida, where it was 86 degrees each day and we saw some beautiful butterflies and plants that were new to us (more about that in a future post!). Now it is back to reality here in Ohio, where December has been unusually cold and snowy. I am not a huge fan of winter weather but I do enjoy hiking when the leaves are off the trees and various topographic features are visible.

Today was the warmest day in quite a while here and we ventured out to Slate Run Metro Park, a 1700 acre property near Canal Winchester. It turns out that it really should be called Shale Run, because there is no slate, a metamorphic rock, within the park or nearby. We hiked about 7 or 8 miles and despite some icy patches it was a fun day.

Here is a view of Slate Run:

Upon closer inspection we could see delicate layers of ice on the surface of the water:

Looking even closer, the ice formations were really beautiful:

Many animal tracks were quite obvious in the snow. These were made by a deer, and it was probably a buck since they are known to drag their feet when they walk:

A raccoon had sauntered across the path at one point:

A squirrel sat down in the middle of the trail:

Here a rabbit hopped across the path:

Approaching a deck that overlooks the park's wetlands, I was stunned to see an enormous Osage Orange tree at the side of the trail, the biggest one I've ever seen. A sign stated that it is over 90 years old, and that the state record tree is 250 years old and is located in Hamilton County. I'd really like to see that but in the meantime here is the Slate Run giant:

The park has a large wetland area visible from the overlook. Sandhill cranes can sometimes be seen in the wetland, as well as a wide variety of waterfowl and other birds. We didn't see much activity there today, since the wetlands were mostly frozen.

In addition to wetlands, the park has many habitats including woods, a small lake and grasslands. The photo below shows a field with poverty grass and woods in the background. Poverty grass gets its name from its ability to grow in impoverished soil. 

The park also features a covered bridge that was built in 1885 and moved from its original location, reassembled and re-roofed here at Slate Run:

By the end of our hike, much of the snow had melted. All in all it was a delightful day and great exercise! 

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely day. I'm so glad to see you adding animal tracks to your realm of interest and expertise. I love looking at tracks in the snow. Around our house, we have a "rabbit highway" criss-crossing our yard. Of course, soon they'll be chewing on our bushes. It's fun to look at tracks in the UP, too.