This is an excerpt from Hiking Ohio eBook by Gary Williams.
Hiking distance: 2.4 miles
Estimated hiking time: 1.5 hours
Hike through an impressive gorge to see two waterfalls and a large lake.
Caution: The trails can be steep and muddy, so you must be careful around waterfall precipices.
Trail directions: From State Route 97, just 3 miles west of its terminus at State Route 3, turn north on Park Road 8. Drive down 1.5 miles to the covered bridge across the Clear Fork of the Mohican River. This landmark bridge, built in 1969, is located at N 40° 36.784, W 82° 19.012 (1). Please note that there are no restrooms here. Park in the lot and enter the woods on the south shore of Clear Fork. The white blazed trail follows along the stream, and there are several spots where you can walk right down to this shallow branch that is ideal for canoeists.
After about 0.4 mile, a side trail appears on the left that leads to Lyons Falls; this trail is located at N 40° 37.073, W 82° 19.365 (2). Leave the river trail and take the left fork. Head uphill through woods filled with hemlock, beech, oak, maple, and hickory trees. Pass by a turnoff that goes directly to Little Lyons Falls and continue until you arrive at Lyons Falls at N 40° 36.990, W 82° 19.717 (3). Among the early visitors to this recessed-cave falls was pioneer folk hero Johnny Appleseed, who had orchards in the area. He carved his name in the sandstone cliffs here, but the signature has worn away.
After skirting the base of these larger falls, continue on, passing a junction with the former stagecoach trail. Keep an eye out for birds—15 kinds of warblers alone stay here during the summer. In about 0.5 mile, the trail crosses over the top of Little Lyons Falls at N 40° 37.165, W 82° 19.763 (4). This smaller overhang is at a steep spot in the trail, so watch your step. Follow along the ridge top and make a sharp left turn; the trail leaves the woods at the Pleasant Hill Dam at N 40° 36.372, W 82° 19.540 (5).
Pleasant Hill Reservoir is one of the lakes in the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District that was built for flood control as well as recreation. The dam here drains a 199-square-mile area. There is no spillway over the top of the dam, which is 775 feet long and 113 feet high. At the parking lot, you will find informational kiosks and a good view of the lake. Take the steps down the front of the dam and follow the Clear Fork along the north shore where the trail reenters the woods at N 40° 36.291, W 82° 19.447 (6). This is the Pleasant Hill Trail, which follows the north shore back to the covered bridge at point 1.
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