Trail: Ralph Ramey Boardwalk Trail
Nature Preserve Cedar
Geographic Location: south of
Length: 1 mile
Difficulty: 1/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: July 2016
Overview: A boardwalk double loop through
first state nature preserve.
Preserve Information: http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/cedarbog
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=544226
Directions to the trailhead: From
take US 68 south 4.1 miles to Woodburn Road and turn right on Woodburn
Rd. Drive Woodburn
Rd. west 1 mile to the preserve entrance on the
right, which is reached just after crossing a railroad track and the Simon
Kenton Trail, an asphalt bike trail.
Park in the preserve’s only parking lot.
The hike: Consisting of 427 acres in southern
, Cedar Bog State Nature
Preserve protects the remnant of what was once a vast wetland that stretched
County Springfield to Urbana. Like most of Ohio’s
wetlands, Cedar Bog originated at the end of the last ice age, when melting
glaciers left behind water and plant seeds they had transported from points
further north. The “bog” in the
preserve’s name is technically a misnomer: the wetland on these grounds is not
a bog with acidic soil but a fen with alkaline soil.
The rare plant communities supported by the soil’s unusual pH led the State of
to purchase this wetland in 1942, thus making Cedar Bog Ohio’s
first nature preserve purchased with state money. In the 1970’s, an upgrade of US 68 to 4 lanes
was proposed to come through the bog.
The preserve would have been destroyed if that proposal had been
accepted, but fortunately state leaders saw the value of the unusual wetland
and nixed the highway project. In fact, US
68 through southern Champaign County remains only two
lanes wide today.
The preserve has only one trail, a 1 mile boardwalk that forms a loop with shortcut option through the heart of the wetland. I have actually hiked the boardwalk’s main outer loop twice, once in 1995 before I started this blog and again in 2016 to form the basis of this trail description. In between my visits, a new entrance boardwalk was built in 2006 to replace a mulch path, and a new
was built in 2009. The preserve’s $5 entrance fee has remained
constant, however. Learning
On a personal note, I was delighted to learn on my most recent visit that the bog’s boardwalk has been renamed the Ralph Ramey Boardwalk Trail. As I wrote under the “About This Blog” tab, Ramey’s classic book 50 Hikes in
inspired me to write about hikes, and therefore he is the main inspiration for
this blog. A former director of Ohio Ohio’s
Division of Natural Areas and Preserves and a former site manager at Cedar Bog,
Ramey has done more for conservation in Ohio
than anybody else in this era. All
Ohioans owe him a great debt of gratitude for the fine state nature preserve
system Ohio has today.
|Start of boardwalk at Learning center|
From the back of the
the boardwalk heads south before taking a 90-degree right turn to head west
into a sunny prairie. The preserve’s
dedication marker sits at this turn, and numerous interpretive signs correspond
to a brochure available for purchase in the Learning Center . This boardwalk was built in 1986 at a cost of
$72,500, and some side rails attached to the boardwalk ensure that wheelchairs stay
on the wood. Learning
After passing through a narrow sedge meadow, the boardwalk crosses the East Branch of Cedar Run before splitting to form its loop. I chose to turn right here and use the left boardwalk as my return route, thus hiking the loop counterclockwise. The northbound boardwalk winds first through shady swamp forest and then through sunny, grassy sedge meadow. Some areas of the bog are completely submerged, while other slightly higher areas appear only muddy.
At 0.2 miles, the boardwalk briefly passes through a cedar forest, a plant community that rarely lives this far south, before curving left to head back through the sedge meadow and then the swamp forest. Large quantities of skunk cabbage live in the swamp forest, which also features many ash trees. Next comes the driest part of the bog: the slightly higher savannah traversed on the northern edge of the loop. Back in the swamp forest, the boardwalk curves left again as it approaches the West Branch of Cedar Run.
|Hiking along the West Branch of Cedar Run|
For the next 0.2 miles the boardwalk parallels the creek, which flows on your right. Just past 0.5 miles, the shortcut boardwalk exits to the left. Continue straight to hike the full loop. A bench made out of wood from the boardwalk that preceded this one sits at this intersection.
The remaining southern part of the loop stays entirely in the swamp forest. A woodpecker drilled into a tree above me as I hiked here on a warm summer afternoon. More left turns take you away from the West Branch of Cedar Run as the boardwalk heads east. The shortcut option enters from the left just before the outer loop is closed. Angle right to walk back up the entrance boardwalk to the
and complete the hike. Learning