Here’s a bit of a composite of two barefoot hikes I took recently at Alley Park, just a bit south of Lancaster.
While it is on the edge of the Hocking Hills region, it still has some nice Blackhand Sandstone features.
Near the back of the park is a point from which one can get a pretty good panoramic view. Here is a shot towards Lancaster.
Even farther to the back, on newly acquired land, there are even cliffs. But to get through them, you have to go through rather thick patches of green briar.
Do you know how you walk barefoot through a patch of green briar?
Actually, it’s not too bad. Having a hiking stick to help with balance is a good idea. Then you just have to carefully slip your feet between the stems, and put your foot down lightly, just to check for one lying on the ground.
To tell you the truth, my soles make out just fine. Yes, occasionally I feel a thorn go slightly into my sole, but it comes right back out and then I cannot find any hole; it seals that quickly. But I do end up scratching the tops of my feet when I withdraw my foot for the next step. This happens on my legs, too, when wearing shorts. But it all heals up pretty quickly; they are just minor scratches.
Anyways, here’s a shot along the cliff face, with a nice protruding rock.
Temperatures this time of year generally drop below freezing at night (or close to it), with the daytimes warming nicely. It’s actually very comfortable for going barefoot. Maybe not for a newbie, but I’ve been doing this so long, and my feet have adjusted so much, that they are actually more comfortable in these cooler temperature.
Alley Park has a body of water called “Twin Lakes” (more like ponds, really), made by damming across two streams that were near each other.
You can see from the map that one is to the north and one is to the south. This time of year with the sun low in the sky, the southern lake is pretty much shaded by the ridge further south, so it just doesn’t get the sunlight that the northern lake gets.
That leads to freezing on one lake but not the other.
From that ridge behind the lake, if you head out to the tip, there’s a good view across the Hocking River.
Most of those ponds are old gravel pits, mined for all the glacial outwash from the Illinoian and Wisconsinan glaciers.
Finally, every now an then I’ll find a plant that’s a bit rare for around Ohio. Here’s a small American Holly.
These generally don’t do well here. They need an acidic soil, and Ohio is rather basic (ok, no jokes!). However, the ridgetops often have a more acidic soil (you will also see mountain laurel and rhododendron), so this holly seems to be doing well enough.
Alley Park is a perfect place to get away for a short hike of about three miles, and I’ve been there quite often. It is one of the lesser known gems of the area.