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Wilderness Preserve

By Tamara York · November 12th, 2010 · 60 Hikes

Key At-A-Glance Information

Length: 2.45 miles
Configuration: Loop
Difficulty: Moderate
Scenery: Woods, cliffs, waterfalls
Exposure: Shade and some sun
Traffic: Light
Trail Surface: Gravel and dolomite
Hiking Time: 1.5-2 hours
Driving Distance: 20 minutes east of West Union
Season: Year-round
Access: Sunrise-sunset
Maps: USGS Brush Creek; Cincinnati Museum of Natural History, The Wilderness Trail Map
Wheelchair Accessible: No
Facilities: None
For More Information: Visit www.appalachiandiscovery.com  or The Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org
Special Comments: Multiple cliffs and ravines offer incredible views. If hiking with young children, keep them close at all times. This trail is rugged and travels along the leading edge of several cliffs. Includes Appalachian Discovery Birding and Heritage Trail.


Wilderness Preserve’s small parking area is at the end of Shivener Road. This preserve honors Charlie A. Eulett, an Adams County teacher who during the 1960s and 70s taught people about the county’s prairies and woodlands. From the parking area, the entrance to the trail is about 25 feet south along the edge of the road. To find the entrance, look for the yellow markings to the Appalachian Discovery Birding and Heritage Trail. Enter the trail through a narrow passageway along the fence.

The Wilderness Trail area is managed by the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History for educational and scientific use and is a National Natural Landmark. Please stay on the trail and refrain from climbing the cliffs.

The trail heads downhill through a forest dominated by sycamore and red and white oak trees. Just 422 feet after you begin the hike, you’ll cross a small footbridge in the valley. The waterway flowing into the valley under the bridge is Saw Mill Branch. American beech, tulip poplar, chestnut oak, sugar maple, and black gum trees cover the hillsides.

Take a moment to register at the Charles A. Eulett sign-in box. Odds are pretty good that you won’t see another person while you’re on this hike. Add in the remote location and you end up with an extremely serene hike.

The wooded area is a great example of a balanced forest, one with a good mixture of understory, saplings, and canopy trees.

Also notice the absence of invasive honeysuckle in this area. This is important for the natural succession of the woodland to take place and for wildflowers to survive and thrive.

In spring, at 0.2 miles you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of wildflowers. The trail meanders through the woods, up and down hills, and runs parallel to the stream below.

At 0.25 miles, the trail heads uphill to rocky outcroppings. The trail at this point is one person wide. Cross a small stream at 0.47 miles and enter into an eastern red cedar stand. The dolomite under your feet is also the stone of the cliffs.

Along this stretch of the hike, look left and peer down the edge of the cliff into the valley 60 to 80 feet below. Head downhill at 0.53 miles. Be careful on the loose, gravelly surface of the dolomite. The path is especially slippery when leaves cover it and when it’s been raining.

As you walk through the forest of sugar maple, white oak, dogwood, and redbud trees, you might be fortunate enough to startle a deer or see a wild turkey. The trail rounds a bend at 0.65 miles. At 0.82 miles, lichen-covered cliffs come into view.

At 1 mile the hike crosses another footbridge. You are warned—this footbridge has a lot of wiggle to it. Take a left and pass between the American beech trees. You’ll cross a few more streams near 1.08 miles. Look for the tracks of raccoons and skunks, as well as those of deer.

At 1.23 miles, you’ll see a waterfall and small ravine stream. Bread Pan Run Creek passes through the valley. Look for the yellow marks on the trees to stay on the trail. Cross a bridge 100 feet ahead. The narrow trail leads uphill through red cedar and tulip trees. Use the stepping-stones to cross the small stream cascading through the dolomite at 1.5 miles.

As the trail goes up the hill, cliffs border the trail to the left and right. You’ll see several large chunks of dolomite covered in lichens and moss near 1.55 miles. Sugar maples and chinquapin oaks dominate the forest. During spring migration, scarlet tanagers, warblers, and flycatchers bring color and lively songs to the quiet woods.

During the next 100 feet, cross several streams as the path continues to head uphill. You’ll pass a wonderful waterfall to your right at 1.85 miles. After crossing the footbridge at 1.87 miles, the trail is relatively flat. To the right are multiple waterfalls. The trail at this point is parallel to the stream some 30 feet below.

At 2 miles you’ll reach what appears to be a trail junction. Take the trail to the right downhill and cross a footbridge. As you continue on the trail, the stream to your left cascades over a series of block-shaped limestone.

The trail takes a hard right at 2.1 miles and heads uphill. Again, if you’re unsure exactly where the trail is, look for the yellow marks on the trees. This portion of the trail suffers from a fair amount of erosion.

At 2.2 miles the path enters into an open area named Shivener Prairie, which was once known as Floyd Shivener’s corn patch. Now it’s a prairie, complete with blazing star, rue anemone, and western sunflower.

Squeeze through the entrance or exit at 2.31 miles, leaving the woods and entering into an open, grassy area. To the right is a latrine and to the left is the education building. Take the gravel road uphill to your vehicle.

GPS Trailhead Coordinates

Nearby Activities

Adams County is home to a multitude of hiking opportunities, including Chaparral Prairie State Nature Preserve, Adams Lake State Park and Adams Lake State Nature Preserve, Buzzardroost Rock, and several other shorter hikes. Adams County is also home to the Audubon automobile birding trail as well as Quilt Barn Squares. Donna Sue Groves began the Quilt Sampler project to honor her mother, who is a master quilter. The Quilt Barns each have one large quilt square painted on them. The artwork and patterns are truly beautiful.

Elevation Map

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