Gorge and Rim Trails – Indian Mound Reserve – Cedarville, Ohio

We really did not know what to expect as we set out on this outing. Online reviews of the trails were scant of descriptions and mostly concentrated on the waterfall. What we found, somewhat by accident, was almost 2 distinct experiences with regards to trail conditions and challenges.

There are two parking lots at Indian Mound Reserve, the main one in a park like setting near the waterfall, and the other at the restored log cabin on US 42. The trailhead for the Gorge Trail starts down the lane that runs alongside the cabin.

The first part of the trail is flat and wide and features some massive Chinkapin Oaks and Cottonwoods.

It borders on an old lowland retention basin that appears early in ecological succession, whose historic use is not clear. Soon you venture to the right and walk along a dike that separates two of these basins.

After crossing the dike you meet Massie Creek for the first time and you feel like you are part of a Paul Sawyier painting.

The trail remains quaint for a while as it parallels the stream and you are working your way up through the gorge. The sounds of running water and birds seem amplified in the recessed area. Fascinating rock formations present themselves.

The trail allows close inspection of the stream. The shoreline reveals numerous mollusk shells and bass can be easily spotted.

We came upon an inviting bridge that seemed to be part of the meandering trail. The bridge gave great proximity to the dynamics of the creek.

This rock just below the bridge is covered with leaves of columbine, one of my favorite wildflowers, which will necessitate a visit next June. Across the bridge the environs really seemed mystical or part of a movie set. I was certain that there were forest sprites observing us from the margins.

And the trail invited us to venture on.

We were rewarded with some great marriages between geology, bryology and botony.

We ascended a slight grade and realized that we were off the Gorge Trail and were in fact meeting up with another, yet unmarked, trail, the Pollocks Works Loop. It turns out that the Gorge Trail went straight at the bridge, although it was not marked, and certainly was less inviting. We reversed course and resumed the Gorge Trail, which required concentration and much more targeted footwork.

While the trail was certainly more challenging, the rewards were worth the effort with additional great views of Massie Creek and the limestone outcroppings.

The geography required some man made assistance with associated warnings.

The trail exited the gorge via 73 stairs, to reach the Rim Trail, that would take us to the waterfall.

The Rim Trail provided some great views into the gorge and of the creek.

Shortly the Rim Trail led to our first view of the waterfall and the bridge to the associated park and the larger parking area mentioned previously.

Did you notice the guy fishing in the stream?

The area to right of the waterfall in these photos is a more developed park that provides closer access to the waterfall if that is desired. We ate lunch at one of the several picnic tables that overlook the waterfall. The waterfall is actually a man made dam that provided a mill pond for 2 mills that operated on site in the late 1800s till the 1930s.

We headed back along the Rim Trail, bypassing the stairs back down to the gorge. Here we found some great fungi, including these giant Puffball Mushrooms. My hiking boot is there for size reference.

Other interesting fungi were noted as well.

This trail passed some trophy oaks and what appeared to be an old spruce Christmas tree planting.

The Rim Trail led us back to the dike and basin area and eventually to the trail that led to the Adena Indian Mound.

For fun, a panoramic image from the top of the mound.

Photo credit to Ellen Burns

From there we headed back to the Gorge Trail and to the parking lot, but along the way we had this fun encounter. A baby Northern Brownsnake, that was about 8 inches in length.

In summary, the Gorge Trail was “easy” until it approached the bridge that crossed the creek. While we did not hike the Pollocks Works Loop, it appeared to be flat and unchallenging, and would lead back to the log cabin parking lot. This pair of trails (Gorge and Pollocks Works) would give an overall easy trail with good footing and some great exposure to Massie Creek, the gorge, the outstanding geology, and flora. In some ways the Gorge Trail is a miniature version of Clifton Gorge.

The main negatives to this trail system are the highway noise from US 42 and the invasive species of euonymus coloratus and bush honeysuckle.

Photo credits to Peggy Juengling Burns with the exception of the panoramic view.


Parking – 2 excellent large asphalt lots

Facilities – Outhouse/porto-let at both parking areas

Trail Conditions – generally well marked with the exception of the area of the bridge. The footing, trip hazards, and stairs on the latter part of the Gorge Trail would certainly qualify it as “moderate”. The trails that we hiked today probably totaled 3.5 to 4 miles.

Benches – none along the trails but many at the waterfall area

Kids – The challenging part of the trail is relatively short. I think those 7 and older would do OK.

Suggested Paired Hikes – There are 4 other trails, ranging from 0.7 to 1.2 miles at this park that we have not experienced.



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