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Two hikers walk next to a creek. (FILE)

Two hikes planned at nearby state parks

Fall is approaching, and that means winter follows close behind. There are many things the outdoors have to offer, but pretty soon, it will be too chilly to enjoy them.

There are two hikes planned for the upcoming weekend in nearby state parks, so outdoor enthusiasts will have ample opportunity to enjoy the fair weather before it ends. Camping accommodations are also available in the state parks in case hikers want to extend their adventures.

On Saturday at Burr Oak State Park, a one-mile hike is planned on a forested trail. Participants of the hike will be looking at common edible plants that can be used to make different types of tea. 

Julie Gee, a naturalist at Burr Oak, will have the teas prepared ahead of time for the hikers to sample after they have identified which edible plant on the hike is used for which tea. 

Hikers will stop to learn about the plants and be able to taste them. The amount of people that attend the yearly event always varies based on weather conditions, among other factors. 

“This hike is always very popular,” Gee said. “Last year, we had 20 to 25 people.” 

People come from all over to participate in the hike. Gee said there are many Athens natives who attend, but also people from other parts of Ohio, surrounding states and far-away travelers who are on their way home and stop for a night for the hike. 

“People in general enjoy wild edible plants,” Gee said.

Gee will talk about ethics during the hike, which will emphasize that no plants or wildlife should be picked or depleted.

Emma Dorrell, a sophomore studying geological sciences, is an avid hiker. She has been on edible plant hikes before and has even embarked on her own plant-finding journey.

“Going out afterwards to find the plants without the naturalist is really cool,” she said. “It’s a good experience to disconnect and enjoy nature for a couple hours.”

A full moon hike will also be hosted at Lake Hope State Park on Sunday. Naturalist Kaylin Callander has been with Lake Hope State Park for almost two years and started the full moon walk last summer in June. In her past experience at other parks, she had done the full moon hike, and so bringing it to Lake Hope was something fun to add to the schedule. 

The hike takes place once a month. Flashlights are not allowed until absolutely necessary. Callander said the hike gives participants the ability to use their senses in a whole new way by focusing on more than simply what you can see. 

“Let your other senses take over more than you normally would,” Callander said.

Callander said it can be tricky to plan a hike because of key factors, such as weather and possible conflicting events. However, unless there are extreme conditions, the hike will go on.

The hikes are usually three miles long, but the full moon hike will be two miles and last about an hour and a half. 

Callander said previous hikes have been excellent for wildlife sightings because the hike goes around the edge of the water. Hikers can hear beavers and it is “golden hour” in the evening, so deer and owls can be seen. She said once, a flying squirrel climbed a tree, then jumped off near her and went into the darkness. 

Hikers are also able to touch and feel the texture of toads, which sometimes are camouflaged in the middle of the path. Callander will stop to talk about the wildlife along the way during the hike. 

“It’s fun,” Callander said. “I enjoy it a lot. It’s one of my favorites.”

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