Places We Protect

Edge of Appalachia Preserve System

Ohio

The Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System encompasses over 20,000 acres in beautiful southern Ohio.

Overview

Description

The Richard and Lucile Durrell Edge of Appalachia Preserve System is one of the most biologically diverse natural systems in the Midwestern U. S., encompassing rugged woodland, prairie openings, waterfalls, giant promontories, and clear streams.

Lovingly called “The Edge”, this collection of preserves sits in the beautiful Adams County in Southern Ohio. These hills and forests are the foothills for the larger Appalachian Forest System. It serves as a protected corridor for migratory birds and for wildlife moving in response to a changing climate. Our work at The Edge includes habitat protection and restoration as well as forest and wildlife management.

The preserve boasts a total of 27 miles of hiking on five different trails—including Christian and Emma Goetz Buzzardroost Rock, The Charles A. Eulett Wilderness, E. Lucy Braun Lynx Prairie, Joan Jones Portman, and John and Marion Becker Cedar Falls trails. Each trail offers unique views and experiences so plan to visit them all!

Access

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Hours

Trails are open year-round, daily from dawn to dusk.

Highlights

This 20,000-acre preserve system is referred to as "The Edge." Each separate preserve and trail offers unique qualities. Visitors will enjoy gorgeous views, distinctive geology and peaceful trails. It's also a great place for birding, especially in spring and fall. Activities include: hiking, birding, fishing, kayaking/canoeing, wildlife-watching, nature photography and observing native plants.

Size

20,000 acres

Explore our work in Ohio

Photos from The Edge of Appalachia Preserve System

Lovingly called 'The Edge', this preserve boasts an abundance of flora and fauna among the cozy nooks and breathtaking views.

A colorful orange, black and white butterfly sits on a yellow flower.
Sunlight shines through a crevice between two rock walls.
A picture of a flower with an orange-pink spiky cone with pink petals drooping down.
A small turtle sits on a dirt ground, looking at the camera, its legs and head poking out of the shell.
A beam of sunlight shines through the green foliage of the forest, over a small dirt country road.
A bird's eye view of the wooden overlook that sits atop a large rock outcropping with forests surrounding.
A close up of a pink flower stalk with pink, coral and beige flowers drooping and whirling around the stem.
A green prairie dotted with bright scarlet flowers and surrounded by tall trees with a blue sky above.
Autumn scene of forest showing red, orange, and yellow fall colors
A close up of a fluffy light brown bird with a white face and a black band of feathers across its eye.

Visit

  • What to See

    Visitors will find mixed mesophytic forests, wildflowers and medicinal plants, and Appalachian herbs like great rhododendron and Canby’s mountain-lover. Cerulean warblers and other neotropical birds abound during warmer months, while endangered species like the Indiana bat, green salamander and Allegheny woodrat find sanctuary throughout the year in the remote, secluded areas of the preserve. More than 100 rare plant and animal species make their home within the preserve system.

    Each preserve and trail showcases different habitat types and unique features.

    E. Lucy Braun Lynx Prairie Preserve and Trail: This is the very first preserve protected by TNC in Ohio. Protection of this preserve was inspired by the renowned botanist E. Lucy Braun. Enjoy a mix of forest and prairie remnants with 1.3 miles of easy trail.

    Christian and Emma Goetz Buzzardroost Rock Preserve and Trail: The most amazing view in Ohio is atop the promontory of Buzzardroost Rock. A more rugged trail with a newly updated boardwalk and overlook at the end of the 4.4-mile, moderately difficult trail.

    The Charles A. Eulett Wilderness Preserve and Trail: Escape into the woods for some peace and quiet. This trail guides visitors uphill, then down into deep woods and past cool glens and gray limestone cliffs. 2.4 miles moderate loop trail.

    John and Marion Becker Cedar Falls Preserve and Helen C. Black Trail: Our newest trail opened to the public in 2020. The 3-mile trail can be strenuous at times, but worth it to experience the dramatic geology and ultimately the falls.

    Joan Jones Portman Preserve and Trail: TNC and Buckeye Trail Association volunteers designed and crafted the trail on this preserve through forest and prairie. This moved a portion of the Buckeye Trail off the road and into the wild. The trail is 1.6 miles if you do the full loop in and out. The Buckeye Trail continues on for another 14 miles within the TNC preserve from a point along the Joan Jones Portman Trail.  That point is marked with a sign.

    Single-night primitive camping is available to backpackers by written permit. See 'Buckeye Trail and Camping' tab for details.

    Please check individual trail pages as activities and visitation rules are different for each trail.

    Please note: Most trails do not have any restroom facilities. There is a restroom at the Dr. George Rieveschl, Jr. Creek's Bend Overlook near the Joan Jones Portman Trail.

  • Community and Activities
    The Conservancy and the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System are part of an active  community of local businesses and organizations working to promote the exciting destinations and things to do in Adams County. Spend the day on the trails, but make sure to explore the rest of what Adams County has to offer. Follow backroads to find quilt barns, Amish baked goods, historic sites and much more. Here are a few other  opportunities to enjoy the area.  
    • The Nature Conservancy in partnership with many other organizations, as part of Leadership Adams, created a Hiker's Guide to Adams County Ohio. The guide is a detailed brochure of nature trails, maps and interpretive information to make visiting Adams County easy and enjoyable. Download the map or check it out online here.
    • The Nature Conservancy and the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC) are active partners in managing and protecting the Edge of Appalachia Preserve. The Eulett Center is a hub for that partnership. It sits tucked into a hillside overlooking the preserve and serves as staff offices, meeting space and research lab.
    • Advanced Naturalist Workshops are offered at the Eulett Center by CMC staff. These are unique opportunities to learn from experts and assist scientists in the research process of studying the natural history of the flora and fauna of the area.  
    • TNC offers volunteer opportunities to work with our staff at the Edge to help us maintain trails, manage for invasive species, and other preserve management activities. This work gives volunteers experience with our work and a chance to access some of the more remote parts of the preserve. Contact our volunteer coordinator to get notified of volunteer opportunities. ohvolunteer@tnc.org
  • Preserve Guidelines
    • To minimize disturbance of state protected and endangered species of this nature preserve, please follow these guidelines 

    • Pets are not permitted on the nature preserve  

    • Swimming and fishing are not permitted 

    • Trails are open to foot traffic only 

    • Visitors should stay on marked trails 

    • Please carry out all garbage 

    • Take only pictures.  Leave only footprints. Kill only time. 

  • Buckeye Trail and Camping

    For nearly 1,444 miles, the Buckeye Trail winds around Ohio, reaching into every corner of the state. In October 2019, 16 of these  miles were contained within the Edge of Appalachia Preserve along the Joan Jones Portman Trail. This is thanks to a partnership between The Nature Conservancy and Buckeye Trail Association. The Nature Conservancy manages the land and helped fund the installation of the trail, while the Buckeye Trail Association helped to build it and maintains it. This section of the trail also coincides with the North Country National Scenic Trail, which stretches 4,600 miles to connect New York to North Dakota, and is the longest national scenic trail in the United States. 

    • The trail is 1.6 miles if you do the full loop in and out. The Buckeye Trail continues on for another 14 miles within the TNC preserve from a point along the trail that is marked with a sign.
    • Single-night primitive camping is available to backpackers by written permit for only the portion of the Buckeye trail that is on Edge of Appalachia Preserve property. This is the only Conservancy trail in Ohio where backpacking is allowed. To obtain permits, please contact The Nature Conservancy at 937-544-2880 or ohio@tnc.org. Camping is not permitted on any other portion of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve.
  • Hunting
    • Hunting is an important tool in wildlife and habitat management. Hunting is permitted on a very select portion of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve at certain times of the year. Permission to hunt is granted by Nature Conservancy staff to a limited number of applicants. The application process is currently open now through January 8, 2022, for the 2021-22 hunting season. 
    • To apply for a hunting permit for the Edge of Appalachia Preserve - use this link. (We are currently only taking applications for Adams County residents. We have handed out the reserved allotment for non-Adams County residents.)
    • To apply for a hunting permit for Strait Creek Preserve (open only to those with lands adjacent to the hunting location) - use this link. 
    • For general hunting questions, please contact Rich McCarty - 937-544-2880 Ext. 16. 

Current Conservation Work

The Edge of Appalachia Preserve is threatened by the invasion of woody species into prairie openings, as well as unsustainable forestry practices and habitat fragmentation in areas surrounding the preserve. In addition, the unauthorized use of off-road vehicles inside the preserve is disturbing habitat and creating favorable conditions for the establishment of non-native weedy plants, which eventually can displace native vegetation.

The Conservancy has been working to combat these threats through land acquisition, education, and restoration efforts.

  • Land acquisition focuses on consolidating landholdings and linking critical areas within the preserve system, which consist of 11 contiguous preserves that are owned and managed by both the Conservancy and the Cincinnati Museum Center (CMC).
  • The Conservancy's Sunshine Corridor Project aims to link the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System with Shawnee State Forest, creating the largest contiguous, protected forestland in Ohio. This will benefit resident and migrating wildlife as well as create more recreational opportunities.
  • Land management efforts include restoration of glade communities and prairie openings and addressing timber management issues as they relate to local economic development and neo-tropical migrant birds.
  • TNC and CMC staff are working to protect the endangered Allegheny woodrat. They are collaborating with researchers from nearby states to relocate a few woodrats to the Edge in the hopes of reinvigorating the gene pool and increasing populations. Allegheny woodrats require rocky crevices and cliffs for their habitats and are only found in select parts of the state.
  • TNC and partners are working to protect habitat known to be a favorite of the endangered Indiana bat who like to roost under the bark of trees in summer and hibernate in caves in winter.
  • The Conservancy continues to build partnerships with the local community and public and private entities to develop innovative approaches to compatible economic development and promote ecotourism.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

See the Complete Map

We need your help protecting the natural treasures of Ohio’s Appalachian foothills.