Saturday, September 5, 2009

Caesar Creek Nature Preserve

"Large, placid mulleins, as summer advances,
velvety in texture, of a light greenish-drab color,
growing everywhere in the fields..." - Walt Whitman

With the Labor Day weekend upon us and a series of non-stop beautiful days, I was looking for someplace to go and spend some time with nature. I wanted someplace different from where I had been. I considered heading to nearby Caesar's Creek State Park, but figured a lot of people would be there for the last big weekend of the summer. I also considered going to Ft. Ancient east of Lebanon, Ohio, but figured it wasn't much for hiking. Wanting to stick to the Little Miami River area, I discovered something in-between called the Caesar's Creek Nature Reserve. It spoke of about 2 miles of hiking trails and mention of a gorge area, so I hoped it would have some character to the area.

After a pleasant drive down State Route 42, I veered off a road just Southeast of Waynesville. Following it south and slightly east, I turned onto a small township road that was lovely just for a drive with the sun dappling the road through the many trees. After a few turns and twists, I found the Nature Reserve and parked. Only a few cars were parked there and those were mostly people who used it as a starting point to travel the bike path that is part of the 70 mile long and 66 foot wide Little Miami Scenic River State Park.
The entrance to the hiking trail begins in a wide swathe that leads to the primary trail. After a short quarter mile hike up this access area, the trail veers off to the left. Before I reached it, I could step a little off the access area and see the expanding valley floor, tree-filled before me.

The trail is a narrow downhill path that is a bit rough in the beginning as it heads down into the valley floor, where it widens a bit into an easy, generally flat trail blending through the trees. The sun through all of the leaves left dappled spots of bright light as I passed through the initial trail. This part is moderate and wide enough that there are occasionally joggers who like to be challenged. I don't recommend it since portions of the trail does have rocky areas sticking up that a mis-step could cause an ankle to twist if not careful. Despite it being the Labor Day weekend, this hike took me past only one person. I was pretty much left to my own in this lovely natural area with a few wildflowers still in bloom as the woods turn to goldenrod, Queen Anne's Lace and many bees going about their business. There were some fields of mulleins in their still late stage, nearly without flowers and going to seed; scattered pokeweed with its deep purple berries ripe for the birds - all early signs of fall.

The trail as it continues along a flat path soon begins to touch near the Little Miami River. This is such a peaceful river this late
in the summer with the river bugs - Mayflies and Dragonflies along with the water spiders skiping across the still river. The trail is so close to the river, it is easy to take short cuts through traces of paths up to the bank. Along the bank, it appears to have a small trail to follow in places that parallels the primary trail. I kept going over to the river in various places just to stand and observe nature in its late summer glory with the only human intrusion besides myself, being the sound of small planes overhead from the nearby Waynesville airport.

Eventually, the trail begins to turn away from the river and the texture of the trail becomes more rocky. Suddenly, as you find yourself heading up the slight beginning of the climb to the ridge, it does a near u-turn and follows a more gradual,
but breathless inducing climb up the side of the ridge. I didn't have my GPS with me, so I am not sure exactly what the elevation change is, but the climb is somewhat fatiguing for the casual hiker. Eventually, the trail reaches a level point for about 100 feet before it begins one last climb to the ridge. Upon reaching the ridge, one returns to the expanded trail that appeared to be for Park vehicles if need be. I decided to follow it the opposite way for about 500 feet and soon found myself in an area where the texture changed from deciduous trees to pine trees that appeared to be in a severe state of drought or dying. It was sad to see so many in this state. I turned around and followed once more the trail back toward where I began.

Caesar's Creek Nature Preserve is a nice short hike getaway that doesn't appear to be on the radar of many visitors since hiking would be the only sport allowed. It does bring you close to another area of the simply wonderful Little Miami River with its historic aspects. The river has played a big part in the settling of area, first with the migrating Indian tribes to the white settlers who later followed.


  1. Nice place! Are you sure that was the Little Miami or the Rubicon? Looking forward to doing it! Was it east of west of you?

  2. It was easy to forget which was which! Definitely, east of the rest of me, that was for sure!

  3. Nice-looking blog! We just moved to Loveland Ohio a couple of months ago and have been making use of the Little Miami Bike Trail at every opportunity. It's a wonderful resource and we're very luck to live so near to it. I look forward to perusing your blog for ideas about other places to visit in the area!

  4. Great blog! Glad I wandered across it.
    Have you done anything on the various parks near Cincy, such as East Fork and the old gold mining operation there? Would love to hear more of that story!

  5. Thanks Robert. I am working my down there, but no, haven't done anything near Cincy yet.