Sunshine Corridor Bushwhack

The Sunshine Corridor is the name the Conservancy has given to a proposed ‘land bridge’ connecting Ohio’s 60,000-acre Shawnee State Forest and our 16,000-acre Edge of Appalachia Preserve.

Over the past five years the Conservancy has conserved more than 2,000 acres of land between the two protected areas. The project is far from complete, but we’re getting close to joining the two areas.

Recently the Conservancy and the Buckeye Trail Association agreed to work together to re-route the Buckeye Trail and the North Country National Scenic Trail through the Sunshine Corridor. Much of the trail now passes along rural roads.

We wanted to see what the trail will be like. Recently, staff from both organizations bushwhacked their way through the forest, following coordinates on a hand-held GPS.

We encountered forests both young and mature, lots of wildlife, and evidence of human use, like this old tobacco barn near Squirrel Town.

On Day 2 it rained, which led to a lot of activity among the box turtles in muddy forest pools. Rain leads to a lot of box turtle activity, because it softens the ground enough for them to bury their eggs.

As we entered the existing Edge of Appalachia Preserve we encountered this stream running through Cave Hollow, a beautiful land of dolomite rock outcroppings and cedar trees.

The yellow lady’s-slipper is one of several wild orchids growing on the preserve.

With no trail, we had to be especially careful where we placed our feet. One reward for this was the discovery of this ovenbird nest. The ovenbird spends its winters in central America but returns to the Midwest each year to nest.

Volunteers like this one are helping to make possible future expeditions through the Sunshine Corridor—without bushwhacking.