Two terms that are sometimes interchangeably used when describing efforts to protect the environment and natural resources are preservation and conservation. While they have some differences, they're two means to a similar end. Coming right from the folks at the National Park Service:
Places showcased in the Ohio Uninterrupted project take the preservation effort several steps further than visiting a local or state park (see here for the full list of rules & regulations for visiting Ohio's SNP's). All of that being said, Blackhand Gorge is a great example of what can happen when both preservation and conservation efforts work together.
Located east of Newark, Ohio along the Licking River, Blackhand Gorge is an SNP that has a lot to offer for every visitor. For the history buff, there are remnants of the Erie canal (above photograph) that have been in place since the early 1800's. For the family goers, there's four miles of bike trail following the East to West flow of the Licking River. Casual hikers have an added six miles of trails that offer neat vantage points both North and South of the river. So while there are dedicated preserve acres that have a few tighter rules for hiking and use, there's plenty of room for exploration and fun too.
For my first visit to the gorge, I kept my wandering to the North side trails. Starting at the dried up canal locks, I followed the trail Southeast and through an old tunnel towards the large sandstone rock formations. At their peak, the largest sandstone cliff sits ~20m high with a neat view of the winding river. The majority of my visit featured overcast light, but some late morning sun managed to peek out after making the above two photographs . Normally I stray away from heavily dappled light, but there a few leaves catching the best of it. With some near 1:1 macro work and a yellow filter, I was able to capture what you see below.
After returning from this trip, I caught up with a photographer friend of mine from the Newark area that made some recommendations for my next visit. It's always helpful to get tips and tricks from a local, and I'm already excited for what I'll be able to discover on the South side of the Licking river.
If you'd like to check out any of these fantastic SNP's for yourself, remember most of them are free to visit, and usually only an email away from getting permission. Check out more of the Ohio Uninterrupted series by following the tags in this blog post, and see you next time!