Visiting Ohio, need photo op locations..

Discussion in 'Locations & Meetup forum' started by NancyMoranG, Apr 1, 2015.

  1. NancyMoranG

    NancyMoranG Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Someone here on the Forum has posted great photos of Hocking Hills. I will be about 1 -1/2 hours west of there near Wilmington and Dayton for 10 days.
    Any other state parks or locations that would give me some waterfall, rivers and good night skies?
    I will drive to H.Hills for a visit but any other parks closer to me would be helpful.
    Thanks, Nancy


     
  2. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Ok....I -KNOW- this is an older thread (I actually looked at the date this time), however being an Ohioan and especially having made 2 camping trips down to the Hocking Hills area in September and October, I wanted to leave a few suggestions here should anyone else happen to ramble across this thread with thoughts on heading to Ohio...there's A LOT of great photo ops just waiting!

    As the OP original mentioned, yes - Hocking Hills is a WONDERFUL area for anyone interested in Nature Photography!!! The state parks alone, such as Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave and Cedar Falls (as well as the trails that run between them), not to mention the Conkle's Hollow Nature preserve...an avid and adventurous photographer could easily spend weeks shooting out there during any given season. Do plan trips accordingly however - spring for example is great for those waterfall shots, however the dry season sets in around mid-August...during my family's camping trip during September this year, there was virtually no water in the falls at all...not even a trickle...it's like the tourist department turned off all the streams after the main tourist season was over! LOL! Likewise, if you can get away from the city areas such as Logan, the night skies in that area are just incredible...some of the finest skies in Ohio...at least when Ohio weather decides to cooperate (Ohio weather is usually unpredictable at best...there's always a 50% chance that the weather may or may not doing something interesting, LOL). For those who don't mind some rather rugged hiking (really rugged hiking), Rock House and Cantwell Cliffs are also well worth taking a few hours to explore! Do keep in mind however that when the signs say "Stay on the Trails", THEY MEAN IT! Many of the cliff faces can reach 200 feet or more and there have been A LOT of injuries and deaths over the years...don't risk life and limb for something as otherwise silly as a picture! Those with physical/health issues and/or those with fears of heights or falling should especially plan accordingly...while very beautiful, many of these areas are quite rustic and can be a VERY challenging to say the least.

    Likewise, while in the Hocking Hills region, while there aren't many specific scenic areas that are easily accessible road-side, it's worth mentioning that the Hocking Hills region does in fact border the Athen's District of the Wayne National Forest. Wayne isn't as specifically aw-inspiring as other National Parks, however it's well worth a drive though in any case...do bring motion sickness pills though, as some of those back roads drive like a freakin' roller coaster!

    While not specifically nature specific, the Hocking Hills region is only about half an hour from Columbus and again, there are plenty of places that can provide some really incredible photo ops! Two of my personal favorites are the Ohio Caverns and the Columbus Zoo! I've been to each a few times now and every time I find myself wishing I could stay longer!

    If you have the time and are willing, I would add that Cleveland is only about a 2 1/2 hour drive from Columbus and again there are MANY things to see and do in the Cleveland area, from the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & Museum, to the Cleveland Zoo, the Cleveland Art Museum, Natural History Museum, Playhouse Square, Severance Center, The Cleveland Metroparks...you get the point! I've lived in this area my entire life and I often forget just how much the greater Cleveland area has to offer. If you're visiting such institutions, do check ahead of time to verify respective photography policies...the Rock Hall for example does NOT allow photography. CMA does with their permanent exhibits, but NOT with special exhibitions and while the Cleveland Zoo doesn't specifically restrict photography, they do maintain that it's STRICTLY for personal use...any commercial use does require a release. Either call ahead or be prepared to walk your camera back to the car.

    Likewise, for those who may be in the Northern Ohio region, the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also well worth a day or two to see and explore. From the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railway, to the canal locks to Brandywine falls, there's PLENTY to keep a photographer rather busy!

    South of Hocking Hills you have the Marietta District of the Wayne National Forest. Again a lovely area with a number of historic covered bridges (for those who fancy such things). If you happen to have your own canoe, while access can be a bit dicey (it's not a developed river), the Little Muskeegum is just an incredibly beautiful river for a day or two worth of summer paddling! Unlike the Mohican and Hocking Rivers which have become rather commercial over the years, the Little Muskeegum is (with my experience) relatively untouched by the likes of mindless tourists. In one single trip we saw the likes of deer, various raptors, wild turkeys and we even had a school of gar riding the bow of the canoe! What we didn't see was people...in 4 hours on the river, we never saw so much as even a single human. Again it's undeveloped...there isn't a single canoe livery down there as far as I know, however it's VERY well worth the effort to find places to put in and pull out. As with the Athen's district, I do suggest Dramamine for the kids...if you're a city dweller like myself, some of those roads are just REALLY insane to drive!

    And for those in the Dayton area (like the OP), again while not specifically for the nature photographer, again there's some really GREAT photo ops just waiting. The Dayton Air Force Museum alone is well worth a day (or two) with A LOT to see. That said, it's worth jumping on I-75 (or I-71 depending on where you happen to be) and taking a ride into Cincinnati. During one trip, we not only made a visit to the Cincinnati Zoo (YES, I -like- zoos! LOL) and the Newport Aquarium which is just across the river, we also did a river boat dinner cruise! I got a lot of GREAT photos from that trip! Seeing the old paddle boats, not to mention having dinner on one, was well worth the trip alone! Also for the thrill seekers out there, I would be remiss if I didn't at least mention King's Island Amusement Park! It's been many years since I was there, however King's Island stands toe to toe with many of the best amusement parks out there...definitely worth spending a day if you're in the area.

    Okies...again I'm sorry for not having gotten back to the OP on all of this in time for her trip and I honestly hope I don't come off sounding too much like a tourist or visitor's guide, however there really is a lot to see and do in Ohio with a rather amazing amount of photo opportunities! I hope others traveling to Ohio will find my comments useful!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2015
  3. NancyMoranG

    NancyMoranG Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Not a problem on your 'delay', as you more than made up for it with tons of info!
    I did go to Hocking Hills with my nephew and it was a phenomenal/ magical place!!
     
  4. Jim Walczak

    Jim Walczak No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    It really is...there is almost an ethereal, otherworldly quality to much of the Hocking Hills region that puts me in the mind of some of the scenery you see in movies like Lord of the Rings. In fact my wife (and a few others) had commented that the gorge trail at Conkle's Hollow almost seemed like something from the Jurassic era...I don't think anyone would have been too surprised had a dinosaur of popped it's head out from behind a rock!

    Oh! Another one I forgot to mention...I'm sure there are other areas like this as well, however should one find themselves driving along Rt 664, there's a KOA campground not too far from the Old Man's Cave area...in the tourist book, it's listed as the "Gem Mine" (kind of fun for kids, but nothing spectacular in and of itself), however for nature shooters, it's worth a stop by their office as they seem to attract a truly extraordinary number of hummingbirds! My family stayed there August 2013 (we ended up down at Happy Hills in Nelsonville these last two trips) and every morning I was up at the office with the camera...I kid you not, LIKE SHOOTING FISH IN A BUCKET! LOL!


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    There were soooo many hummingbirds fluttering around (not to mention "humming-bees"), with a 70-300mm and a bit of patience, it was hard to NOT get a good shot!

    Likewise, for those who enjoy critter photography, it's also well worth pointing out that the Hocking Hill's region is HORSE COUNTRY! While there are plenty of stables in the area for public riding and even a couple of campgrounds where you can actually camp with your own horse, the fact is that it's hard to drive down any road down there and not see horses!

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    This beauty, along with 2 friends were captured at the intersection of Rt's 56 and 91...I just pulled out the camera and walked over to the fence and 2 of the 3 horses were kind enough to just walk right over and pose for me (do of course be aware of infringing on private property!).

    In fact, for folks that can take their eyes off the road long enough while their driving (err...not really recommended...let someone else do the sight-seeing for you), there's actually a lot of stuff of interest...


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    While we had gone searching for the (supposedly) haunted Moonville Train tunnel (never actually found it), we did drive past the old Hope Forge, near Lake Hope State Park...at one time around the turn of the century, the area was actually rather industrial and many such "American Ruins" can be found...


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    While I wouldn't go out of my way for it, the Nelsonville Brick Park is also worth a quick road side stop if you happen to be driving by. The bricks from this plant were world famous at one time (something about having won an award at a World's Fair as I recall) and many ornate examples can still be found at the site.

    Also as I mentioned originally, it pays to plan your visit accordingly...while spring and early summer are the time to catch those water falls, early to mid October are great for some of that fantastic "fall colors"...


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    The above shot was taken at the Happy Hills campground where we stayed both times this year. During the October trip, our then 6 month old pup had woke me up at 6:30 a.m. because she needed out of the tent, so I figured as long as I was awake anyways, I took the pup (and the camera) for a morning walk around the campground. While I had gotten many good shots (both trips), that is perhaps one of my favorites...although I do wish I had of gotten the morning coffee going first! LOL!

    Oh...another word of caution; when hiking the state park trails around Hocking Hills, REMEMBER WHERE YOU PARKED YOUR CAR!!! The trail that goes from Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls for example, is a 2 1/2 mile hike, HOWEVER there are no buses or transport to take you back, which actually makes that a full 5 mile hike! Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls are both well worth seeing, as are the trails between, however it's easy to get carried away and forget where you are. In my family's case, I only walked about 1/3 of the trail, then I let my wife take the dogs and do the full trail while I turned around, went back for the car and met them at the other side! In other words, if EVERYONE in your party isn't up to the hike (kids and pets included), it's a very good idea to plan on a "designated driver"...we saw A LOT of very weary, over-tired hikers and a few that had gotten quite lost on each of our trips!

    Anyways, at the risk of sounding like a tourist's guide again, yea...the Hocking Hills region really is a very special place. My advice to those planning a photo expedition to the area would actually be to search Google Images (there's A LOT of pictures out there of this area), find shots of things that interest you and then research the area where the shots were taken. Again I do advise a degree of caution though...some areas, such as the rim trail of Conkle's Hollow, with it's 250 foot cliff faces, are NOT for the timid! I -tried- to do the trim trail, but with my fear of falling, I only made it about half way up before I chickened out and went back down. While "Fat Woman's Squeeze" at Cantwell Cliffs isn't too bad (yea, they really call it that), the "red trail" can be a bit terrifying in places. In any case, for the state parks at least, do plan on A LOT of rugged hiking! Regardless of the time of year, a VERY comfortable pair of shoes and a canteen of drinking water are HIGHLY recommended!
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2015
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