A swollen creek from spring rains spills over large rocks to form levels of waterfalls surrounded by fresh green foliage of the forest.
Cedar Falls at the John and Marion Becker Cedar Falls Preserve within the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County. © Mark Godfrey/TNC

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New Cedar Falls Trail Draws Nature Lovers to Adams County, Ohio

The trail offers new public access to the spectacular Cedar Falls, a 15-foot cascade that spills over scenic limestone ledges.

The Nature Conservancy announced the opening of the Helen C. Black Trail at the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System in Adams County, Ohio. The trail offers new public access and an ecotourism destination for enjoying the spectacular Cedar Falls, a 15-foot cascade that spills over scenic limestone ledges.

The Nature Conservancy named the trail in honor of the late Helen C. Black from Cincinnati, Ohio. Black was an avid hiker and a board member and honorary life trustee of The Nature Conservancy.

“Helen worked tirelessly to conserve Ohio’s natural areas, especially at the Edge,” said Martin McAllister, Appalachian Forests project manager at the Conservancy. “She was known for her quiet generosity and loyalty to the cause, setting an example for all who want future generations to enjoy and conserve nature’s beauty.”

The 1.5-mile trail winds along a deep gorge flanked by 70-foot-high cliffs and terminates at a vista of Cedar Falls, a stunning sight in the spring when the water flowing through the gorge is highest. In autumn, the flow slows to a trickle, except following heavy rains. Before the trail's construction, the falls had remained relatively unknown because they were difficult to reach and required a special access permit. The Conservancy funded the new, marked trail, parking area, and interpretive signage to share the site's history and serve as a draw for ecotourism in the county. A grant from the Clean Ohio Fund helped restore and develop the area near the trailhead.

“Outdoor excursions have exploded during COVID-19,” said Tom Cross, Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau executive director. “Visitors to Adams County spent $27.9 million in 2019, helping to sustain more than 600 jobs. The new Helen C. Black trail builds on our county’s unique natural features as an ecotourism destination.”

The trailhead at the intersection of State Route 348 and Cedar Mills Road is located in what was once the heart of a bustling company town called Cedar Mills. Remnants of the town's grist mill can be seen from the trail, which is open year-round from dawn to dusk. "The hike is relatively easy, but expect some slippery places and slight climbs. It's worth the effort to reach our new viewing platform overlooking Cedar Falls," McAllister said. The Nature Conservancy will maintain the trail. Hikers are reminded to stay on the designated path for their safety and to avoid damaging the rare plant communities found in the preserve.

The Nature Conservancy purchased the Cedar Falls property in 1989 from the Freeman family, sealing the area’s conservation for future generations. It is located in the northern portion of the 20,000 Edge of Appalachia Preserve System, the largest and oldest of the Conservancy’s preserves in Ohio. The preserve is co-managed by the Cincinnati Museum Center and is located 75 miles east of Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.