Hiking Conkles Hollow Rim Trail & Rappelling Area

Conkles Hollow Rim Trail

Dave and I always start each new year with a hike along the Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve’s rim trail. From the parking lot, it’s about a 3 mile hike, but the rim trail is only about 2 miles around. The climb up is steep, but once you’re up top, it’s pretty flat. However, the trail is quite close to the cliff edge, so you need to hike with care. I asked my daughter when she was going to take her children. She answered, “when they’re adults.”

We hiked on January 2 in the afternoon. The parking lot had plenty of cars but was not filled up. We were delighted that the rim trail was not crowded. We probably saw a total of 10 people. To achieve social distancing, in 2020, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources made this trail one way around. You must climb up the east rim side, then exit from the west rim side. We prefer to hike it the other way around, but this small change is not a big deal.

Buckeye Trail around the rappelling area

Table Rock

Table Rock

On January 8, we decided to hike another favorite of ours. I wrote about it in 2017 (Along the Buckeye Trail – Table Rock), but this time we didn’t hike as far. It was a Friday afternoon, and again the trail was almost all ours. We saw a total of three other hikers, plus two who were starting as we left. Similar to Conkles Hollow, the trail requires a climb up, but once up, it’s pretty flat. this is also a horse trail, but the horse trail splits off and returns once past the tricky parts. Note that this is also a part of the Buckeye Trail, so just follow the blue blazes. Oh, and parts of it can be quite wet year round. I am hopeful we will continue hiking weekly during the winter because  it’s so nice to have private time in the forest.

Some other photos of these hikes:

New footbridge at Marsh Hollow

Owner Dave Marsh is the guest blogger for this post

This past summer Operations Manager John and I needed a new construction project, and Marsh Hollow needed a new footbridge over the creek. After considering a truss and a suspension bridge, I stumbled on a modified truss (“rainbow bridge”) designed by Frank Petersohn of Vancouver BC. Although Frank has passed away, his son Michael now sells the very reasonably priced bridge plans, but fully cut and drilled kits are no longer available. For more information about constructing this type of bridge, please visit The Rainbow Bridge.

We found the design very appealing both mathematically and aesthetically. The arches are chords of a circle. We challenge granddaughter Makenzie to calculate the radius of the circle for this particular design!

Cutting and fabricating the arches, which are cut from stock 2X4’s, required angle cuts such as 18.4° and measurements such as 123 23/32”. To say the least these are challenges on a chop saw.  It wasn’t until we were nearly done that I got a digital angle measurement tool (should have had it from the beginning). Fortunately, I had Mary check and challenge my measurements (she was always correct). She also held many of the longer pieces being cut.

Note: click any photo to enlarge.

A new chop saw blade is a good idea. My chop saw actually caught fire and burned up during the project. Too bad it wasn’t the table saw because I really need a new one of those.

While a lot of the work and pre-assembly took place in the workshop, foundations had to be dug and poured and the arches moved into place over the creek. Getting the foundations parallel and aligned across the creek without a laser was also challenging, Fortunately, John is experienced with concrete work and took the lead in setting the foundations.  When all was done the two foundations were in near perfect alignment. I was convinced they were not aligned but in the shape of a parallelogram, but I was wrong.

Perfectly aligned foundations made the installation of the arches much easier.  We used a family “staycation” to set the arches. Thanks to our crew led by John including Brian, Grey, and Travis documented by Uncle Mike the actual placement went very smoothly. Note: the arches must be parallel and perfectly vertical to provide maximum stability.  I think we achieved that.  We also owe thanks to the ladies for entertaining the kids during this activity, cooking up a delicious lunch and serving cold beer.

The next steps included placing the crossbeams and staining the arches in place. The decking was assembled in sections in the workshop and transported to the site by John (they are heavy!).

During this time Jill, Mary’s cousin, was visiting.  She has a designers eye and gave us excellent advice about the design of the railings.  What you see in the pictures is a result of her input.   I think the railings give the bridge a very distinctive appearance.

Finally, because the slope of the ramps approaches 20°, we mixed Interlux Intergrip No Skid Compound paint additive with the stain to provide better traction during wet weather.  We also finished the hand rails with spar varnish make for a smoother hand hold.

We hope you will enjoy crossing the creek on our new bridge on your next Marsh Hollow vacation. It makes a great photo op and gives you access to our trail through the woods.

Dave at Marsh Hollow