Blackhand Gorge Trails
Park Address: 2200 Gratiot Road, Heath, Ohio
Marie Hickey Trail:
Length: 2.0 miles
Location: North Parking Lot (Rock Haven Road)
Trail Description: Considered to be the best trail in the park by many, the Marie Hickey Trail will take you past waterfalls and to an incredible bluff overlooking the Licking River. The trail begins at the park’s north parking lot near a trail kiosk. The North Parking lot is located on the other side of the river than the main parking lot. You can get to the lot by crossing the river and driving up Rock Haven road until you reach the lot on the left side of the road. You will begin by taking a dirt road behind a fence to a junction of two trails. Both these trails are the Marie Hickey Trail, so you can take either path. For this description, we will take the trail to the left. The trail begins on a mowed path and takes you to a small wooden footbridge. Shortly after this bridge, the trailhead for the Oak Knob trail will come into sight. This trail runs to the top of a hill and then loops back down to the Marie Hickey Trail. Later, the trail will pass through a small forest of Hemlock trees and go over a seasonal waterfall. You will continue upwards and climb to a bluff that overlooks the Licking River. If it has rained recently, a small (and unmarked) side path will lead you to a couple low-flow waterfalls. The trail will then descend from the bluff, go through the woods, and return to the trail’s starting point
Canal Lock Trail:
Length: .4 miles
Difficulty: ModerateTrail Description: This lesser known trail will take you to a spectacular abandoned railroad tunnel. Begin by parking in the preserve’s main lot and walking across the bridge. The trailhead is on the south side of the road. Be on the lookout for a sign that says “Lock 16” where you will descend into the floor of a dry lock. Follow the trail back uphill and take it until you reach the old rail tunnel.
Photo by Lucas Sigurdson
Blackhand Gorge Trail
Length: 4.21 Miles
Trail Description: While this is classified as an easy paved trail, don’t underestimate the beauty this trail provides! The trail is built on an old railway and and runs along the south side of the Licking River. The trail passes through an area known as the “deep cut” where engineers had to blast through the sandstone to continue the route of the railroad. The trail will follow the river and pass by a rock formation known as “Blackhand Rock”. This is a one-way trail, so plan accordingly.
Quarry Rim Trail
Length: 1 mile
Trail Description: This trail branches out from the paved Blackhand Gorge Trail. You will begin by heading down the main trail until you see a sign on your left for the Quarry Rim Trail. This trail will take you up to the top of a ridge and passes by several old quarries that have been long since abandoned and filled up with water. The trail will loop and return to the main trail.
Length: 1.4 miles
Trail Description: Unlike the Quarry Rim Trail, the Chestnut Trail is an out-and-back trail, so you will have to return the way you came in. To reach the Chestnut Trail, you will have you start on the main paved trail and hike until you reach the sign for the Chestnut Trail. This trail will take you atop the ridges above the gorge and also passes by a small but beautiful seasonal waterfall.
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