‘Fall’ in Love with Belmont County
Fall is a special and beautiful season in the rolling hills of Southeastern Ohio. Belmont County’s trees are at near peak fall color right now and it is a perfect time to plan a road trip. From the western end of the county at Egypt Valley Wildlife Area all the way to the Ohio River, you’l find breathtaking scenery. Just driving one of our three scenic byways (Drover’s Trail, Historic National Road, and the Ohio Scenic River Byway) will give you a front row seat to nature’s pageantry. Along the way, be sure to stop at one of these seven places to reconnect to nature. For more parks, lakes, and outdoor recreation ideas, visit https://www.visitbelmontcounty.com/recreation. Check out this video footage of Belmont County in the fall courtesy of Eye in the Sky St.C. https://youtu.be/xaTbKlaPPb4
1. Barkcamp State Park (65330 Barkcamp Rd.) Belmont County’s rugged hills provide the backdrop for picturesque Barkcamp State Park. In addition to fine recreational facilities, visitors will enjoy the mature woodlands, open meadows, scenic lake and abundant wildlife of this secluded 1,232 acre park.
2. Dysart Woods (5 miles from the village of Belmont on SR 147), a 50-acre track of old-growth oak forest, is the largest known remnant of the original forest of southeastern Ohio. Some of the spectacular oaks that you will see are 400 years old, stand over 140 feet high, and have a diameter of four feet.
Ohio University has preserved the woods by keeping it in its natural state. The Department of Environmental and Plant Biology conducts studies of the woods and the surrounding fields as a laboratory to learn more about the dynamics of a mature oak ecosystem. There are two marked trails for hiking. Visit https://www.ohio.edu/cas/plant-biology.
3. Egypt Valley Wildlife Area (via I-70 and SR 800). Located in the middle of two land parcels totaling over 18,000 acres, it is popular for hunting, fishing, and other forms of wildlife recreation. Hiking, bird watching, photography, and sight seeing are also popular here. A variety of fish, fowl and animals can be found here, including species not traditionally found in eastern Ohio such as the short-eared owl, Northern harrier, Henslow’s sparrow, and bobolink. Bald eagles and ospreys occasionally stop here and river otters were reintroduced to the area in 1993.
4. Epworth Park ( Main St., Bethesda). Step back in time at this park established in 1870. A visit here continues to instill the peace and serenity that offers an escape from the fast-paced lifestyle that we know today. Nestled among a grove of majestic oak trees are 61 quaint Victorian cottages that invite you to walk in the footsteps of our ancestors, and to experience the happiness and tranquility of days gone by.
Enjoy a picnic by the lake. Throw a line in the water and try your luck at catching a bluegill, bass, or catfish. Children will enjoy the large, fenced playground. Or, just walk along the sidewalks winding through the cottages, and imagine a much simpler time, when folks sat on the front porch and greeted neighbors and visitors as they walked by. The park is open from April 1 through November 1 of each year. Visit http://www.epworthpark.org for more info.
5. Raven Rocks ( 54167 Crum Rd., Beallsville) Originally known as the First Ravine of the Raven Rocks by the early pioneers, it was named after the many ravens that nested in the overhanging ledges of the unusual and astonishing rock formation. Indians of the Ohio Valley and Captina Creek Valley had left evidence of repeated visits here for over a period of 200 years, where they had set up camp and hunted in the fall and winter months.
For generations, Raven Rocks has been a favorite place for hikes and outings. “The Raven Rock,” as old-timers called the largest and most accessible of its dramatic ravines and rock formations, have been the chief attraction. That seems to have been true at least as far back as the year 760 A.D., when, according to Kent State University archaeologists, Indians began a 200-year period of regular use of The Raven Rock for what appear to have been ceremonial purposes. The Friends of Captina Creek are hosting a Raven Rocks History Tour on Nov.17 from 1:30-4:30 p.m. Visit https://www.facebook.com/friendsofcaptinacreek for more information.
6. Captina Creek Birding Trail has five stops that include Raven Rocks and Dysart Woods, as well as the Powhatan Point Marina, the Captina Creek mainstem at Alledonia and the south fork of the creek at Rainbow’s End. Located in both Belmont and Monroe counties, the Captina Creek Watershed is valued for its pristine water quality and diverse range of species. Download a copy of the brochure here: http://www.belmontswcd.org/BIRDING%20TRAIL%20BROCHURE%20PDF.pdf
7. Zion Christian Retreat & Nature Center (334 E. High St., Flushing). Zion is an 800 + acre retreat and nature center with a 27-acre lake, various small fishing ponds, rustic and luxury cabins, 1.85-mile trail around the lake, outdoor recreation opportunities, and much more. The drive to and through Zion alone is scenic, but the nature trail around the lake offers spectacular views. For more info visit https://www.zionchristianretreat.org.