COLUMBUS, OH – With February just around the corner, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is hosting several family-friendly winter hikes and naturalist activities for people to enjoy. Dress for the weather, and spend time making fun memories while exploring Ohio’s state parks and state nature preserves.
- Owl Prowl at Lake Hope State Park – Join Raccoon Creek Partnership and naturalist Pat Quackenbush from Hocking Hills State Park for a night celebrating owls with crafts, treats and a walk about to listen and look for them. Meet at the Lake Hope Dining Lodge at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1. For more information, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.
- Naturalist Program at Punderson State Park – Have some spare time? Join our naturalist at Punderson State Park for a talk about Ohio’s natural features on Friday, Feb. 2, at 5 p.m. Popular topics include; Snakes, Birds, and Animal Pelts, every day brings a different program, so please stop out to see what we have being discussed today! Meet at the chalet. For more information, call 440-564-2279.
- ‘Who Else Hibernates?’ at Burr Oak State Park – In honor of Groundhog Day, we will examine common Ohio mammal furs and discuss wildlife strategies for winter survival during this informal program at Burr Oak State Park on Friday, Feb. 2. This program will be held in the lodge lobby from 3:30-4:30 p.m. For more information, call 740-767-3570.
- Ohio Boating Education Course at Mohican State Park – Mohican State Park will be offering a free 8-hour class in boating and water safety on Saturday, Feb. 3, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. It covers the fundamentals of safe boating: state-required equipment, watercraft laws, navigation Rules of the Road, basic safety and risk management and aids to navigation. The class will be held in camp area A of Mohican State Park. Pre-registration is required, call 419-265-5848 to register.
- Winter Hike at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve – With a diverse mixture of habitats and extensive trail system, Boch Hollow offers a unique glimpse of Appalachian Ohio. The scenery of the wooded ridges and valleys is only made more spectacular by the onset of winter. Sandstone rock features and coursing, tranquil streams found throughout the preserve add to the character of the site. Join staff at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 3, for a 3.7-mile hike exploring portions of the Buckeye Trail for an outstanding winter preserve experience. Hikers should meet at the preserve office, located at 7211 Bremen Road, Logan. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 740-380-8918.
- Built by Beaver at Lake Hope State Park – These industrious little fur-bearers have been busy beavers along one of our trails at Lake Hope State Park. Check out a dam and lodge up close and maybe even hear that slap of their tails. Prepare for muddy conditions. The walk is less than a half-mile. Meet below the Lake Hope Dam to caravan to the location on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. For more information, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.
- Groundhog Hike at Wingfoot Lake State Park – Join us at Wingfoot Lake State Park on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. On this hike, we will be looking out for the elusive groundhog along with other animals that might be lurking around. Meet at the boat marina parking lot. For more information, call 330-628-4720.
- Winter Hike at Findley State Park – Join the Buckeye Trail Association and Findley State Park staff to experience the beauty of winter through Findley’s woodlands and around the lake on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m. There are 5K and 10K guided hikes. Donations are accepted for cornbread and bean soup after the hikes. Meet at the nature center in the campground. Dress for the weather. For more information, call 440-647-0534.
- Water Wise at Shawnee State Park – Acquire new skills or brush up on old ones at the lodge indoor pool at Shawnee State Park on Saturdays in February (Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24) at 10 a.m. Paddling, nautical knots and water safety are the themes of this fun water program. Bring a bathing suit and prepare to get wet. Attend four programs and receive a free hour of kayaking. For more information, call 740-858-6652.
- Nature Nook at Shawnee State Park – Visit with a naturalist at Shawnee State Park and learn more about our native wildlife and fun things to do in the area. We will even have live animals to observe. Meet upstairs in the lodge from 12-2 p.m. on Saturdays in February (Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24). For more information, call 740-858-6652.
- Fitness Hike at Caesar Creek State Park – Join us at the nature center at Caesar Creek State Park on Saturday, Feb. 3, at 1 p.m. We will hike 3 miles to scenic Crawdad Falls, and we will see a large beaver dam on the way. Caesar Creek will be hosting monthly, guided Fitness Hikes, plus a few special event hikes. We will start off with shorter hikes and gradually work our way up to the 13-mile annual perimeter hike in October. Most of our hikes are pet friendly, unless specified. Winter in the parks allows views of some spectacular scenery so we will hike in snow and mild rain. For more information, call 513-897-3055.
- Section Hikes at Shawnee State Park – Put your feet to the test on a section of the 60-mile Shawnee Backpack trail. Wear sturdy hiking boots, pack snacks and water, and be prepared to climb. Hikers should meet in the lodge lobby of Shawnee State Park on Feb. 3, 17 and 24 at 1 p.m. All hike locations and lengths are determined by the abilities of participants. For more information, call 740-858-6652.
- Tracks and Traces for Kids at Burr Oak State Park – Learn how to identify tracks and other traces left behind by many different animals at Burr Oak State Park on Saturday, Feb. 3. Make a track to take home, and meet at the nature center from 1-3 p.m. for this event. For more information, call 740-767-3570.
- Winter Hikes at Punderson State Park – Enjoy the winter wonderland by walking through the park on a naturalist-led hike at Punderson State Park on Sunday mornings in February at 10 a.m. We will have hikers venturing through the beautiful woods of Punderson State Park. During our hike, we will discuss what animals do in the winter and look for some signs of their presence. The hike will take place on the Huron Trail and is just under 1 mile in length. Meet at the chalet on Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25 at 10 a.m. for these hikes. For more information, call 440-564-2279.
To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio’s state parks and state nature preserves, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar or naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.
Getting outdoors is an ideal way to relieve stress and boost mood levels. The Explore Ohio initiative is aimed at encouraging people to exercise outdoors and become healthier in the process. Participants can log their miles, share their photos and create friends groups on the Explore Ohio website at ExploreOh.com. Whether people are running, hiking, biking, climbing, walking or paddling, Ohioans can keep track of their progress at ExploreOh.com and share their adventures on social media using #ExploreOhio. After reaching 100 combined miles of activity on the site, each registered user will receive an email with a certificate good for 15 percent off camping at any Ohio State Park.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.