Balanced Rock

BalancedRock
Balanced Rock

The other weekend, my sister and I decided to take the kids out for a quick hike in Hocking Hills.  I’ve heard of Balanced Rock but hadn’t seen it, so we decided to give that a try.

Hike Distance: About 2 miles, about 30 – 45 minutes depending on how fast you hike.
Trail Condition: This trail is largely on a bridal trail. The horses tear up the path quite a bit.  So it can get very muddy and sloppy if it’s been wet. If it’s a nice day, watch for Horses coming.  There are a couple of spots with significant drop offs.  The trail is wide, but keep a hand on small kids that are prone to running off.

Date Hiked: May 22nd
The Crew: My sister and I and a brood of children.  She had an extra with her, so we had kids that were 14, 11, 8, and 2 that were 6-ish.  We also had 1 dog.

Getting There

The trail head is near Conkles Hollow on County road 11/Big Pine Road.  Park in the lot for the Rappelling/climbing area.  Then cross the street. You’ll see a small kiosk near the road and a couple of brown wood posts marking the area.

Map

The Hike

From the kiosk near the road, follow the path back and cross the I-beam Bridge. (Points to the 2nd Grader for realizing it was a big I-Beam.)  Once across the beam, you’ll come to an intersection where a main trail goes left and right and a small trail goes straight back. There is another Kiosk here.  Take the trail to your left.

From hereIMAG1521, the hike is quite simple. Just stay on the trail.  You’ll see blazes every now and then but they aren’t overly necessary. The property adjacent to the trail is all private property, so don’t wander off the path.  (Pro tip: Blazes are a great way to keep the middle kids busy when hiking.  Make then responsible for spotting them.)

 

The hike winds up a hill which is a bit steep but certainly manageable.  You’ll come along side some really neat rock faces and walk along them for a while, eventually coming to a bit of a rock shelter.  Going on up you’ll see a crevice open up a bit and then come to a wide open area with a small fence for tying up horses.  Balanced Rock is behind you.

The Trail

As mentioned above, the trail can get pretty muddy from horse traffic.  There are a couple spots that were pretty deep with mud. We managed to generally find edges of dry to walk along. We had to cross a very small stream. The adults could step over, but the kids needed a hand to avoid wet feet.  Those of us in Keen sandals had no issues.

There are a few cliffy spots, so pay attention to where you’re going.  There is also a decent amount of horse poop along the way to watch out for.IMAG1520

Our Tips

Be prepared for mud. Bridal trails seem to be a bit mucky year round.  Hiking shoes or a change of shoes are a good idea here.

This trail isn’t so long that you need snacks. If you are joining several hikes in the area, the open area 1/2 way through this one is a good spot to stop and sit.

 

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What It Cost Us

Not a thing, other than gasoline to get there. …and we all crammed into my car, so even gas was a bargain.

 

 

Overall Impressions

This is not the nicest trail in the area, but the cliff faces and Balanced rock are worth the effort.  All of the kids were able to manage this hike easily, but we did keep the smaller ones close.  Not too many people walk this trail, so we had it pretty much to ourselves on a nice day.

Trail Map

(whoops…forgot to stop the app when we took off, so I don’t have accurate statistics.)

 

 

AAA Great Vacations Expo – Finding Adventures

Yesterday we went to the AAA Great Vacations Expo.  I’m not sure how often this one comes around, I expect it’s an annual thing, but it was well worth the minimal cost and time.  If you have nothing to do today, it could be worth a trip.

We spent a couple of hours wandering around among the booths and picking up a bunch of information.  I probably collected more paper for the recycling bin than was necessary, but I was looking for ideas of things to do.  They had booths for everything from major travel companies and resorts to the county & city visitor’s bureaus for Ohio and the surrounding states.

The Metro Parks had a really nice exhibit with an animal scavenger hunt that my daughter (8) loved.  She got a small trinket out of the effort, which she was more than happy with.  She also made a horse out of a yard stick and a cut out horse head from Marmon Valley Farms’ exhibit. The Farm at Walnut Creek had a couple of live animals that you could see and touch. (They had one that said “Camel” that looked an awful lot like a llama to me, and a bird of some sort.

My son (11) was more interested in the booths setup by every professional sport team in the city.  We now have ticket and schedule info for the Columbus Crew, Columbus Clippers, the Blue Jackets, and the Ohio Machine (Lacrosse).

There were other kids activities through out the exhibits – COSI had a little “try this” thing, one county had a Flight Simulator that both kids enjoyed (it was very simple, but they thought it was fun), and there was lots of candy to pick up at different places.

They had a passport activity for the kids to do which they enjoyed but mildly irritated me.  The kids each received a passport and had to get it stamped at several locations (all of them were the major sponsors of the event).  They then turned this back in for “a chance to win a Disney Vacation for 4”.  They did have a lot of fun finding the places to get the stamps. However, depending on how you look at it, this has become a ‘teachable moment’ that I’ve had to deal with… “We probably won’t win.”… “They will call us if we do, but don’t expect that we will.”…. “I don’t know when they will call. But probably not until after Sunday, and they probably won’t call.”….”No, i don’t know when we will go if we win, but we probably won’t win.”..  The kids got nothing else out of the activity.  It would have been nice if they got some small thing for their efforts.  As much as I hate all that little crap, they were left with nothing other than the ability to annoy me with questions about when we will get to go to Disney.

All-in-all, we had a nice time and had fun.  My son even remarked on the way out, “Well, that was a lot more fun than I expected.”.  And, I have to agree.  Now.. off to read through the volumes of information I have and come up with some new adventures for us this year.

Things we learned:

  • I picked up a ton of paper, which got rather heavy by the end. I saw several people bring their own bags to carry all of this information.  Next time I’ll take a better bag that goes over my shoulder for lugging around our finds.
  • There were a few wineries that were offering tastings for a small fee (in Ohio, it’s illegal to give away alcohol for free) and one exhibit had a small bar setup. Bring a few dollars cash if you want to have a taste.
  • Warn the kids ahead of time about what a “contest” is and what “chance to win” means.
  • If you were ready to book a vacation, you could probably get a good deal here.

What we spent:

  • With a AAA membership, each adult was $6 ($9 if you don’t have a AAA membership).  The kids were both free (16 and under).
  • Parking was $7 which I found a bit ridiculous.  $5 wouldn’t have bothered me.
  • They did have food options, but we ate lunch before we went.
  • Grand total for us: $19 (two adults, two kids, parking)

* Grandma went with us and wore her pedometer.  By her calculation, we walked about a mile total.. not too bad.