With no time for a big hike, but anxious to put some miles on our hiking boots, we decided to venture to Yellow Springs, Ohio and the Glen Helen Nature Preserve. We reasoned this would give us a little time in the woods and a nice visit to Yellow Springs, a small Ohio town with a decidedly hippie vibe.
Enjoy Nature in Yellow Springs
Yellow Springs is the place to be if you’re intent on enjoying nature. In addition to the afore mentioned Glen Helen, the area is home to both the Clifton Gorge State Nature Preserve and John Bryan State Park. Both parks offer hiking and John Bryan also offers camping, kayaking, fishing, mountain biking, rock climbing and disc golf. A playground was recently installed at the state park at the trailhead of the newly established storybook trail.
We choose Glen Helen because we wanted to see the namesake for the town, the yellow springs. The preserve is a private, nonprofit preserve. Parking onsite costs $5 per car collected either by a parking attendant or an honor system box at the far end of the parking lot. Port-a-potties were available on site.
The parking attendant recommended the Glen Helen Loop Trail. The trail was moderate in difficulty with a long set of stairs at the start of the trail. The entire trail was just about two miles and passed notable markers along the way. In addition to the Yellow Springs, we stopped at a waterfall known as the Cascades and another small falls, the Grotto. We were also excited to see a sizable red tailed hawk.
After our hike we weren’t quite ready for lunch and decided to explore a bit. The Clifton Mill was nearby and I had remembered going there during the holidays for their light display.
In the off season the mill features an on site restaurant and country store. Though we weren’t yet hungry, we did a bit of browsing in the store. Among other products, they offer Clifton Mill pancake mix and cornmeal for sale.
Yellow Springs, Ohio
It was a quick trip back into Yellow Springs and we found it fairly busy for a Thursday afternoon. A number of eclectic shops and restaurants grace both sides of the main street. Street performers played steel drums and further down the street a violinist played for donations.
We popped into and out of several different stores. Our favorite was Yellow Springs Pottery. There were beautiful and useful pieces of all types. The store was divided into sections, each with pieces from a different artist.
Though we’d heard good things about Winds Cafe and Miguels Tacos, we settled on Ye Olde Trail Tavern for lunch. We were lured in by the big red umbrellas and patio seating. Rumor has it that Ye Olde Trail is the oldest tavern in the state and that Winds Cafe is a favorite of local Dave Chappelle.
Lunch in Yellow Springs
Lunch was delicious. Natalie settled on a brat with kraut and a side of cole slaw. Though she said the slaw was a bit lackluster, she was happy with the brat.
I ordered the fish and chips. Honestly, I love fish and chips and never, ever want to cook it at home. This was wonderful; hot fish with a delightfully light batter and a generous basket of fries. The tarter sauce was homemade and very flavorful as well.
Young’s Jersey Dairy
After a bit more walking around downtown we decided to head home. No visit to Yellow Springs would be complete, however, without a stop at Young’s Jersey Dairy.
A working dairy farm, Young’s is famous for family fun. In addition to a petting farm, Young’s hosts two miniature golf courses, batting cages, a barrel ride and a giant slide on property.
Though Young’s has a full service restaurant on site, Natalie and I were there for the ice cream. I got a double scoop of lemon curd and chocolate. It was a delicious with a creamy, homemade consistency.
Yellow Springs was a great base for a very diverse trip. We got to spend time in nature and enjoy a quick tour of unique small town, Ohio. If you plan to go, try to leave yourself at least four to five hours to get a taste for the area. If you decide to stay longer, or even a few days, you won’t run out of activities.
If you enjoy hiking in the Buckeye State, there’s no shortage of opportunities. Check out our adventures to Hocking Hills, Rising Park, Cuyahoga Valley and more.
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