Enjoy Fall Color Hikes, Fossil Hunts and Festivals This October

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COLUMBUS, OH – October is one of the best months of the year in Ohio! This month, the temperatures start cooling down, and the leaves begin to change into bold oranges, bright reds and vibrant yellows. In addition to the Halloween campouts offered at several Ohio State Parks, there are many great hikes, fossil hunts and festivals for visitors to enjoy for free in October. 

• Full Moon Hike at Lake Hope State Park – Join the naturalist at 7 p.m. at Lake Hope State Park on Friday, Oct. 6, for a 3-mile hike along the edge of the lake in search of the full moon and other night-time creatures. Meet at the Lake Hope shelter house just past the boat house. For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.

• Flashlight Nature Hike at West Branch State Park – Join us on Friday, Oct. 6, at West Branch State Park at 9 p.m. The naturalist will be leading a night hike allowing hikers to learn about nocturnal wildlife. Hikers should wear proper foot attire.

• Pioneer Craft Days at Beaver Creek State Park – Come to our annual Pioneer Craft Days on Oct. 7-8 from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and enjoy crafters, demonstrations, activities, entertainment and food. The grist mill will be in operation. 

• Geology and Fossil Hike at Mohican State Park – Help the Ohio Geological Survey and Ohio State Parks celebrate Earth Science Week during a hike and fossil hunt at Mohican State Park (Ashland County) on Saturday, Oct. 7, at 10 a.m. Survey geologists Mike Angle and Brittany Parrick join naturalist Lisa Katz-Durham to lead explorers on a 3-mile hike through one of Ohio’s most geologically interesting state parks. Learn how the Clear Fork Gorge was shaped by both ancient bedrock geology and more recent Ice Age glaciers, as well as the construction of the dam and Pleasant Hill Lake. After the hike, participants will hunt for fossils in the Mississippian-age bedrock outcropping near the covered bridge. Meet at the covered bridge, hiking shoes are recommended. For more information about the event, contact Mike Angle at 614-265-6602.

• Falconry at Beaver Creek State Park – Mick Brown, master falconer, and other falconry experts will be at the Wildlife Education Center (WEC) at Beaver Creek State Park on Saturday, Oct. 7, from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. to show the birds they use to hunt prey. Hunting demonstrations will be held during the afternoon in the grassy area next to the WEC, and Mick will entertain visitors with his interesting stories.

• Smokey Bear Fire Awareness at Shawnee State Park – Join us on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 12-4 p.m. to enjoy fire safety tips and equipment demonstrations by real firefighters, along with a visit by Smokey Bear. People can tie-dye their own shirts (all shirt sizes available in the camp store). There will also be face painting and an opportunity to visit with live critters at the nature center. Call 740-858-6652 with any questions.

• Nature on Display at Lake Hope State Park – Stop by the dining lodge on Sunday, Oct. 8, from 12:30-2 p.m. to see the naturalist's collection of interesting objects and creatures found in the park. For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.

• Fossil Hunt at Caesar Creek State Park – Join ODNR paleontologist Mark Peter on a fossil hunt at Ohio's premier collecting site. Meet at the Caesar Creek Army Corps of Engineers Visitor Center at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 8, to see the fossil exhibits and get a free fossil collecting permit. Fossil hunters will regroup south of the dam at the spillway parking lot for a brief explanation of the geology of Caesar Creek. Mark Peter, a paleontologist with the ODNR Division of Geological Survey, will be available to answer questions, identify fossils and help participants explore the best trilobite collecting spot. The event is free, rain or shine. Fossil collecting will be delayed in the event of severe weather.

• Apple Butter Festival at Mt. Gilead State Park – Join us for the annual Apple Butter Festival at the beautiful Mt. Gilead State Park just 45 minutes north of Columbus on Oct. 13-14. There will be plenty of events for kids of all ages starting on Friday, Oct. 13, including the peeling and coring of the apples for Saturday's apple butter making. There will be costume contests, games, campsite judging and trick-or-treating in the campground. Visitors may also enjoy the famous VIP Country Breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings. A donation for breakfast is appreciated, and all proceeds go directly to improvements at Mt. Gilead State Park. Call the park office at 419-946-1961 for more information.

• Campfire Stories at Lake Hope State Park – Stop by the nature center on Friday, Oct. 13, from 5-7 p.m. to listen to stories around a campfire, learn fire safety techniques and roast a marshmallow! For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.

• Grandma Gatewood’s Fall Color Hike at Hocking Hills State Park – Meet with the naturalist at the Old Man's Cave Visitor Center at Hocking Hills State Park on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 9 a.m. for a strenuous hike that spans roughly 5 miles of the Grandma Gatewood Trail. Bring along a cool drink and celebrate the season's colors. We will be traversing the section that runs from Old Man’s Cave to Hemlock Gorge Trail over to Whispering Cave and then back down to the naturalist cabin at Old Man’s Cave while enjoying the scenic beauty and cultural personality. This hike includes several hills and steps and is not recommended for the easily-winded individual. 

• Lighthouse Festival at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park – Join us on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for the Lighthouse Festival at Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. Special activities and food vendors in downtown Marblehead will all be celebrating this historic landmark. Lighthouse tours are scheduled from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. There is a $3 charge for all guests age 6 and over to climb the lighthouse. The Lighthouse Museum and the Life Saving Station are open for people to enjoy for free. For more information, contact East Harbor State Park at east.harbor.parks@dnr.state.oh.us.

• Autumn Tree Trek at Lake Hope State Park – Enjoy the fall colors along the Old’s Hollow Trail on Saturday, Oct. 14, at 9:30 a.m. Identify several species of trees and discover where the "green" goes. Meet at the Hope Furnace. Appropriate footwear for uneven and muddy terrain is recommended. For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.

• Safety Day at Cowan Lake State Park – Visit Cowan Lake State Park for our Safety Day on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m-2 p.m. Meet our local law enforcement officers, K-9 units and emergency medical agencies. Experience a “smoke house” and tour an air-care helicopter. Call 937-382-1096 for more information. 

• Fall Foliage in the Forest at Hocking State Forest – Join us at Hocking State Forest for the annual “Fall Foliage in the Forest” tour on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. featuring the beautiful fall colors of Hocking State Forest. This event will include forestry displays, bean soup and cornbread, equipment demonstrations and free wagon tours. The wagon tours meander through the state forest and highlight tree identification, natural oak regeneration, forest practices to encourage healthy tree growth, methods to improve wildlife habitat and much more. The tours begin at the historic Hocking State Forest Cabin, located at 19275 State Route 374, Rockbridge, 43149. The event is free, and parking is provided. Call 740-385-4402 for more information.

• Archery for Beginners at Lake Hope State Park – Join us on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 4-6 p.m. and then again on Sunday, Oct. 22, from 1-3 p.m. to get introduced to archery. This event is free, and all equipment will be provided. Meet the naturalist below the Lake Hope dam. For questions, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.

• Perimeter Hike at Caesar Creek State Park – Join us on Sunday, Oct. 15, at 10 a.m. for a guided hike on the 12.7-mile Perimeter Trail through some of our most scenic areas in the fall. Discover more about the woods and wildlife in our area, and see Caesar Creek from a whole new point of view. This event is free and open to the public. Meet at the 50 Springs parking lot. For more information, call the nature center at 513-897-2437.

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 new 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 and TourismOhio encourage people to take fall color photos and upload them to social media using the hashtag #OhioFall17. Follow @ohiodnr and @OhioFindItHere on Twitter, Ohio Department of Natural Resources and Ohio. Find it Here. on Facebook and @OhioDNR, @OHStateParks and @Ohiogram on Instagram to see more fall color photos.

Ohio State Parks is also having a photo contest this fall. Help us highlight the best of the great outdoors in a variety of categories for a chance to win great prizes, including free camping and gift cards! Enter today at ohiostateparksphotocontest.reserveamerica.com.

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.
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