Know Ohio: State Parks

With summer just around the corner, you’re bound to start spending a lot more time outside – and with 83 Ohio state parks, thousands of city parks, and a National Park, there are quite a few places to explore the great outdoors here in the Buckeye State! Up next, Know Ohio correspondent Mary Fecteau tells us about some of Ohio’s notable parks.

Lace up those hiking boots and get your compass out – because I’m about to take you out on the trails of Ohio’s pride and joy – our diverse and beautiful parks!

Let’s begin, shall we, with Ohio’s only National Park. The Cuyahoga Valley National park, just south of Cleveland is frequently cited as one of the most visited National Parks in the country – last year over 2 million visitors enjoyed its lush native plants, deep forests, and rolling hills. But, unlike many National Parks, much of this park is made up of donated land – which was used originally for farming, or mining, or even as junkyards.

Like the Beaver Marsh – it’s now a diverse wetland, teaming with life, but in the 1980’s it was just the polluted remnants of the Ohio & Erie Canal. The current habitat was created by an unusual collaboration of humans…and beavers. Park workers and volunteers cleaned up and preserved the land, and then beavers moved in, built their dams, and restored natural water levels. From there, Wetland plants returned, creating habitat for the diverse wildlife visitors see today.

But some Ohio parks actually look very close to the way it did when the land was donated – like Malabar Farm State Park near Mansfield. This park continues to be a working farm, as it has been for generations, but there’s a bit more to this farm then meets the eye -- and it involves a bit of old Hollywood glamour! That’s because the previous owner of this farm was Louis Bromfield – a famous author and screenwriter in the 1930’s and 40’s, who hosted big Hollywood stars of the time. In fact, two of the biggest – Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall -- were actually married on this farm.

Hocking Hills State Park in Logan doesn’t exactly have any star power – but, located in the rolling hills of Appalachia, it certainly has the power to mesmerize visitors with its stunning rock formations and waterfalls. These rocks were formed over millions of years by the oceans and glaciers that once covered Ohio. And the most popular area of the park, Old Man’s Cave, actually gets its name from a hermit, Richard Rowe, who actually lived in the cave in the 1700’s.    

But there are so many more beautiful and interesting parks throughout the Buckeye State, so get out and explore some this summer – just don’t forget the bug spray! 

Instructional Links

Website: Ohio State Parks

Website: National Park Service, Cuyahoga ValleyNational Park

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