There is another State Nature Preserve that I’ve been aware of for a long time: Christmas Rocks. However, it was closed to the public and required a permit to visit it (and I’d never inquired to find out was what necessary to get a permit—I always figured you had to be part of something like a college class). Anyways, Hiker White, who comments here, let me know that the Preserve has been opened up for general visitors.
So that was yesterday’s hike.
Unfortunately, the beginning of the hike is not particularly friendly for barefoot hiking. Parking is at the lot for the Mink Hollow Covered Bridge (a Fairfield County Park). And then there is about half a mile of gravel road to get to the regular trail.
That section has to be taken very slowly.
Once I got past that, it was pretty nice, though. The total distance hiking (including the gravel part) was about 3½ miles.
It’s actually fairly typical of the Hocking Hills area, with its main feature is a sandstone cliff called Jacob’s Ladder. Now, I’m not sure just why it’s called Jacob’s Ladder. As a reminder, Jacob’s Ladder is a reference to Genesis 28:12. Jacob is having a dream:
And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
Okay. I’ll give them the part about the top reaching to heaven (or somewhat close :-)). It is a tall cliff. But it’s just not narrow enough to really be considered a ladder.
It does have a really impressive view from the top, though. Here’s the view south towards Clear Creek valley.
The trail then descends to the bottom of the cliff (at least in the direction I was hiking). So, here’s the cliff.
What’s more interesting about this area, at least to me, is something we’ve encountered a few places before. Here’s an elevation map that shows the creek that runs through the Preserve, Arney Run. It runs from north to south, and then joins Clear Creek.
Notice how it cuts right through that high lobe? That’s another instance where glaciers to the west blocked the normal outflow of the north-flowing creek, so it eventually overtopped a low point and went the other direction. We saw that in What’s Wrong with Salt Creek? and Clear Creek Captured.
It’s also pretty obvious that Jacob’s Ladder itself marks where a ridge used to connect across (that is, that’s where the old divide was). Here’s another elevation picture (using my Lidar data) that shows where that would have been. Jacob’s Ladder is at the left side of the dark connecting line.
Finally, before leaving, I took a panorama shot of Jacob’s Ladder.
And then it was back towards my car, and tackling that gravel road again.