The Ohio Origins of National Coming Out Day (October 11th)
Did you know one of the founders of National Coming Out Day (October 11th) is an Ohioan? Read her story and about the origins of NCOD!
Join me as I visit the sites in the Ohio History Connection network! This month's road trip took me to Wahkeena Nature Preserve in Sugar Grove.
Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a beautiful place to discover Ohio’s natural history and biodiversity. The 150-acre preserve is home to more than 100 bird species, 12 orchid species, 32 fern species and more than 60 species of trees and shrubs. Everywhere you turn, you’ll see something interesting.
Be sure to check out the excellent Nature Center. The staff has found a way to cram a lot of information into a small space. You’ll learn about the history of the site—both human and natural. It’s a great way to start off your visit. You can also buy a post-hike birch beer there. Birch beer is a non-alcoholic pop made with oils from sweet birch trees, which can be seen all over Wahkeena. It tastes similar to root beer and is very refreshing after a hike.
Definitely don’t miss the opportunity to talk to the site staff. Site manager Tom and educator Nora mentioned several times how much they love interacting with visitors. They said they even have visitors bring them photos of plants and animals from other parks—they truly want to help you understand and enjoy nature.
Wahkeena is open Wednesday through Sunday until late fall. After that, the site will be open Wednesday-Friday, weather permitting. Visit wahkeenanaturepreserve.com for up to date days and hours of operation.
Address: Wahkeena Nature Preserve is located at 2200 Pump Station Road SE in Sugar Grove.
How much time: I would recommend you give yourself 2-3 hours to explore the Nature Center and hike the trails. Although there are only two miles of trails, it took us about two hours to walk it because we stopped to look at orchids, search for evidence of beaver activity, identify various mushrooms and fungi and find different trees.
Truda's Tips: Grab a trail guide before you head out on your hike. It’s full of great information that will inform your experience. The staff updates it often, so it’s always got up to the minute information about what you’ll see during each season. Also, keep your eyes peeled for Squirrel the cat who lives across the street from the site, but likes to spend his days roaming the trails and hanging out with visitors.
Kid Friendly? ABSOLUTELY: Wahkeena is a perfect place to hike with kids. The trails are not too long and there’s a ton to see. The Nature Center is full of animals—both taxidermied and alive—and the staff has created a wonderful field guide for kids to learn about the plants and animals that call Wahkeena home. The staff also constantly updates their self-guided activities, so families will always find something new to do when they visit. As I mentioned before, the staff LOVES to interact with visitors, so kids can ask questions to their heart’s content.
Lunch: And last, but certainly not least, is lunch! Lancaster is a short 15-minute drive from the site and has a good variety of restaurants, both familiar chains and local favorites. We opted to try Todd’s Mountain View Restaurant. Todd’s is the kind of restaurant that brings individual packets of Club crackers with your coleslaw and the wait staff calls everyone hun, which I loved. The menu is huge and they serve breakfast all day, so even the pickiest of eaters should be able to find something they like. We didn’t get there until 1:30 p.m. and the place was packed on a Wednesday. I ordered an omelet with home fries and toast, which hit the spot after our hike. My coworkers all opted for various sandwiches and gave them a thumbs up. Todd’s isn’t fancy, but it serves affordable, solid food that will fill you up. The Wahkeena site staff also recommended El Tapatio Taqueria and Cherry Street Pub.
After lunch, we headed for L City Coffee in downtown Lancaster. It’s a fun little place with a big drink menu and yummy baked goods. I had the Toasted Macaroon Iced Macchiato, which tasted like an adult version of an Almond Joy. My coworkers had the Fluffernutter Macchiato, the Milky Way Mocha and a Pumpkin Pie Latte. We were all very happy with our choices. We took our orders to go and walked around lovely downtown Lancaster.
Other Activities in the Area: Downtown Lancaster is home to several museums. While you’re in the area, consider visiting the Decorative Arts Center of Ohio, the Sherman House Museum and the Ohio Glass Museum. Please note that none of these museums are covered with your Ohio History Connection membership.
An Ohio History Connection membership is a great way to explore your state! Your membership gives you free general admission to our 50+ sites. Visit ohiohistory.org/join for more information and to join today!