By Ashleigh Clark
Spring is on the horizon. As the temperature rises and the weather tries to stay consistent, outdoor activities are popular once again. For Cedarville University students and faculty, a common way to celebrate warmer weather is hiking. The Miami Valley area offers several local trails that are beautiful year-round.
John Bryan, which is a 10-min drive from campus, offers a tree-lined gorge hike similar to Indian Mound Reserve. Hocking Hills is roughly an hour and a half from campus. The trails feature several cave-like formations and waterfalls.
Junior student Josh Baratka said John Bryan is his favorite place to hike.
“It’s good to get outside,” Baratka said. “A lot of my time is spent inside studying so being outside in actual nature that’s not like sidewalks and stuff is very good for my health.”
Jacob Bender, Baratka’s roommate, has hiked with friends at John Bryan and Hocking Hills.
“It’s cool to be in nature and gives a chance for some outdoor activity that’s not too difficult,” said Bender.
Some of Cedarville’s professors also enjoy the trails in this area. Dr. David Rich, Professor of Public Administration and Political Science, is an avid hiker and cycler. He frequents many of the trails in this area, particularly Indian Mound Reserve, Clifton Gorge, and Glen Helen, and has extensive knowledge of the natural features found at the local parks.
Indian Mound stands out because of its proximity to campus. “It’s our own little personal park down there,” Rich said. “Right now, the wildflowers are starting to peak. God’s creation is phenomenal.”
Rich’s favorite is John Bryan because of the size of the park. In recent years, efforts have been made to protect the natural environment of this park.
“When I was a student, you were allowed to rock climb anywhere. Now they are much more particular about where you go,” said Rich.
Pollution has affected the ecosystem of Indian Mound Reserve as well.
“We’ve not always been good about how we deal with some of our waste,” said Rich. “Once you hurt a resource like that, it’s hard to get it back.”
However, through conservation efforts and awareness, the ecosystem is rebalancing. “If you see crawdads you know that the ecosystem is back,” said Rich. “It can sustain fishery again.”
According to Rich, evidence of God can be seen in the cliffs of Clifton Gorge and Indian Mound. “You can actually see the Creation story in these cliffs,” said Rich. “You can find shellfish up in the layers of the rock and fossils too.
Hiking is more than just a recreational activity for Rich. “God gave us a gift,” he said. “And I like going and unpacking it every day.”
Photo by Logan Howard
Ashleigh Clark is a junior political science major. She plays electric bass and lives in New York with her four cats, Vincent, Chubby, Mable, and Scout.