Walk on the Wild Side with Ohio State Parks

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is hosting several more family-friendly events for people to enjoy during the rest of February. Ohioans should mark their calendars to experience some great events available this winter at Ohio State Parks.

• Wildlife Invasion at Mohican State Park – Get a closer look at some of Ohio’s wild animals skins and skulls. Meet at the lodge on Friday, Feb. 17, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. For more information, call 419-994-5125, ext. 20.

• Great Backyard Bird Count at Lake Hope State Park – Try your hand at some citizen science. Help the naturalist identify and count birds at the nature center feeders at Lake Hope State Park on Saturday, Feb. 18, and Sunday, Feb. 19, both days from 9 a.m. until noon. Help the naturalist identify and count birds at the nature center feeders. Information gathered will be part of National Audubon Society’s annual bird count to help create real-time snapshots of bird populations around the country and the world. Beginners and experts welcome. Some binoculars and identification books available to use. For more information, call 740-596-4938.

• Owl Walk at Mohican State Park – Welcome to an evening all about owls in Ohio on Saturday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 25, from 8-10 p.m. Meet at the Nature Center in the Class A campground. Learn about the different species of owls and their life histories. Then a short hike to call our region’s most stealthy predator, the owl! Dress for the weather. Call 419-994-5125, ext. 20, to sign up. The walk will be easy to moderate.

• Bird Walk at Mohican State Park – Meet at the Mohican State Park Lodge lobby on Sunday, Feb. 19, at 10 a.m. Take a leisurely walk around beautiful grounds to view various birds in and around the lake. People may want to bring binoculars if they have them. This is an easy path with some steps, and we will see some nice views of Pleasant Hill Lake. For more information, call 419-994-5125, ext. 20.

• Great Backyard Bird Count at Maumee Bay State Park – Join a naturalist at the Trautman Nature Center at Maumee Bay State Park on Sunday, Feb. 19, from 12-4 p.m. for Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society’s Great Backyard Bird Count! Basic birding information will be provided. People can escape the cold and observe the birds at their leisure from the indoor wildlife viewing station. For more information, call 419-836-7758.

• Owl Prowl at Burr Oak State Park – Hocking Hills State Park naturalist Pat Quackenbush will lead this program at Burr Oak State Park on Thursday, Feb. 23, which starts in the lodge with a presentation including a live owl! Then we will head outside for a hike to call for owls. The lodge will offer soup beans and cornbread for purchase prior to the program. Complimentary hot chocolate will be served. Meet at the Burr Oak State Park Lodge at 6:30 p.m., event will last until 8:30 p.m. For more information, call 740-767-3570.

• Night Hike at Mohican State Park – Enjoy a nocturnal experience with a night hike at Mohican State Park on Friday, Feb. 24, from 7:30-8:30 p.m. Meet at the Hemlock Gorge Trailhead located at the back of Camp Area A. This is an easy hike, but trail may be muddy. Dress for the weather, and there is no need for flashlights or glow sticks. No pets please. For more information, call 419-994-5125, ext. 20.

• Ohio Boating Education Class at Shawnee State Park – We will be hosting an Ohio Boating Education class on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at Shawnee State Park at the marina. This 8-hour course includes Ohio boating laws, safety equipment, accident prevention and operating rules. The course is approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators (NASBLA) and meets Ohio’s boating education law, which became effective Jan. 1, 2000. Ohio law requires anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1982, to successfully complete either a NASBLA-approved boating course or a proficiency examination before operating a boat greater than 10 horsepower. The course may also qualify boaters for a discount on boat owner’s insurance. Call 740-353-7668 to register.

• Winter Hike at Caesar Creek State Park – Start at the Wellman Meadows Trailhead parking lot at Caesar Creek State Park on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 10 a.m. until noon for a self-guided hike to Horseshoe Falls and our 103-foot-long swinging bridge. Warm up with a nice soup lunch at the nature center before going on to Crawdad Falls. For more information, call the nature center at 513-897-2437.

• Winter Greens at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve – We invite you to identify a nice variety plants, mosses and lichens on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 1-4 p.m. during a 2-mile hike from forest bottom to ridgetop and in field and forest settings. There is a good chance of seeing skunk cabbage in bloom. We will identify and discuss adaptive strategies for all the other green things we see along the way, such as ferns, grasses, mustards, coniferous trees and more. Beginners and experienced naturalists are welcome. Wear sturdy shoes. Meet at 1 p.m. at the Boch Hollow office, 7211 Bremen Road, Logan. For more information, contact Lauren Metcalf at lauren.metcalf@dnr.state.oh.us or 740-380-8918.

• Woodpecker Wanderings at Burr Oak State Park – Winter is a great time to search for this interesting group of birds at Burr Oak State Park. People should bring their binoculars for this event on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 2-4 p.m., and we will look for woodpeckers and their signs. Meet in the lodge lobby. For more information, call 740-767-3570.

• Polar Bear Plunge at Lake Milton State Park – Raise money for the American Cancer Society by running or walking into the cold waters of Lake Milton State Park on Saturday, Feb. 25, from 2-5 p.m. Minimum donation of $25 per team. Meet at the Harry Meshel Picnic Area of the park. An event description is available at: facebook.com/brrforacure. For more information, call 330-654-4989.

To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio State Parks, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.

Getting outdoors is an ideal way to relieve stress and boost mood levels. The new Explore Ohio initiative is aimed at encouraging people to exercise outdoors and become healthier in the process. Participants can track their miles, share their photos and create friends groups on the Explore Ohio website at ExploreOh.com. Whether people are running, hiking, biking, climbing, walking or paddling, Ohioans can keep track of their progress at ExploreOh.com and share their adventures on social media using #ExploreOhio.