The Day: Wednesday, 21 September 2016
The Place: Indian Mound Reserve
2750 US 42 East; Cedarville, OH 45314
For those that don’t know me, getting away from everything and being surrounded by nothing but woods is not only a passion, but a necessity. I only truly relax and feel myself when the wind is rustling the leaves above my head and the only thing I smell is the dirt beneath my feet. It’s what fuels my soul, quiets my mind, and brings me back to center. So after the move from Maryland to Ohio, finding new trails to traverse has become one of my priorities. Enter my most recent “date with the outdoors”… Indian Mound Reserve. Seemed perfect – a bit of history, lots of green space, not far from home.
At the park entrance, you’ll be greeted by a log home. Core samples of some of the logs date back to 1814, leading to the assumption that it was built around then, but there are no tax records to indicate a permanent structure was on the site until 1870. So what gives? Historical records have been found that a man named Samuel Heathcock might have dismantled a log home on his property “log by log” in Clark County (some 7 or 8 miles away) and reassembled it on the site. Could this solve that mystery? Maybe. Currently the house is undergoing repairs to bring it back to its former pre-1825 state. For example, apparently the back porch was not typical of that time period (second picture).
By the cabin is a parking area, some picnic tables, a port-a-potty (nope, no real bathroom), and an entrance to one of the trails. The rest of the hiking trails, the ones I explored, are down a private road about a 10th of a mile and off to the side. Don’t worry, there are a ton of signs to help you keep from getting lost. According to the brochure on their website, “Indian Mound Reserve is 166 acres of Ohio’s heritage and the most diverse area managed by the Greene County Park District.” In addition to the excellent example of an early 1800s Ohio log home, the park offers some pretty awesome views and two ancient Native American Mounds.
I only visited the Adena (Williamson) Mound on this trip but I’ll definitely be back to see the other one. On your way to the Adena Mound, there’s a sign that gives visitors a little bit of background on what they’re about to see. The Mound is believed to be a memorial or lookout built by the ancient Adena’s sometime between 500 B.C. and 100 A.D. Commonly, Adena Mounds were built in large, open meadows near water that could provide the building materials. Originally 30 – 40 feet high and 144 feet in diameter, time and the elements have caused significant erosion to this particular Mound. Never officially excavated, scientists and historians hypothesize that the Mound and surrounding meadow was used as a place for prayer, reflection, and communication with the dead. For my part, I could definitely feel the energy coming from the site and I wouldn’t attempt to scale it without first providing a gift and a prayer in respect. Just a suggestion.
From there, I worked my way back down the hill and traveled along Massie Creek which runs through the Reserve. I can honestly say that the place I came across astounded me and left me in awe! It was so beautiful and peaceful and I had a hard time wrapping my head around this place being so close to a major city. I was told Ohio was full of rolling hills but I thought this type of landscape only existed in places like Pennsylvania, the Virginias, or even Central Kentucky. Ohio, to me, was nothing but flat land full of corn fields. I was happily proven wrong. The rock outcroppings and humongous boulders transform and transport you a place long ago. Given the option, I would not have minded wasting the day away hidden in some rocky alcove and listening to the creek gurgle below. All the sounds of nature and the past blending together, carrying me away, cleansing my heart and soul. The though even crossed my mind, “I’ll bet Ms. Auel imagined a place just like this for her heroine, Ayla.” I could clearly see ancient peoples and Native American tribes camped out here.
Even though Ohio is still in the upper 80s, the vibe was one of Mother Nature settling and preparing for Autumn. Things are stilling, the smells are changing, and this place will be amazing when the leaves bleed into reds and golds.
“Massie Creek Gorge was created by the Wisconsin Glacier, which retreated from Southwest Ohio 12,000 years ago. The glacier left its mark on the land as melting ice eroded deep river valleys and cut through sedimentary rocks formed over 425 million years ago.”
My dogs absolutely loved playing in the creek. Swimming is off limits, as well as diving at the Falls and fishing, but some of the shallower areas are perfect for cooling off on hot days. The water is crystal clear and slightly chilly. You’ll find numerous off shoots from the main trail leading down to the creek but I preferred where the water curved in to meet the rock over hang.
In addition to the second ancient Native American earthen structure mentioned earlier, Indian Mound Reserve also boasts a couple historic mills from the 1800s, a dam known as Cedar Cliff Falls, a historic stone arch bridge, an Overlook, and Wetlands full of native plants. If you’re lucky, you just might catch site of some deer and other wildlife too. All in all, it’s by far my favorite place as of yet! Of course, I’ve also been told to visit John Bryan State Park. Maybe for my next exploration? If you’re familiar with Ohio, where would you suggest I adventure next?
PSA: Like most parks and reserves, the only garbage cans you’ll find are at the entrance so please, PLEASE leave with whatever you bring. Nothing mars a beautiful place more than carelessly tossed trash. It’s also totally not cool when animals get killed from eating it or getting caught up.