Edge of Appalachia Preserve–Cedar Falls Preserve

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Edge of Appalachia Preserve–Cedar Falls Preserve
Coordinates: 38.824118, -83.392971
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Photos by Michael Crouse
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Tips for birding Cedar Falls Preserve

At Cedar Falls Preserve there is a stone parking lot with room for about 15 or more vehicles. There were not any restroom facilities. The trail can be muddy in areas and walking sticks would be helpful. The trail followed the stream and at times was bordered by a large sandstone cliff. At the end of the trail, a platform overlooks the waterfalls. The day we were there was very hot and we got a late start, but the habitat is great for birding. We did see Kentucky Warblers, Indigo Buntings, and heard Scarlet Tanagers to name a few. There was also a nice historical kiosk in the parking lot.
From Michael Crouse

About Cedar Falls Preserve
Opened in summer 2020, the Helen C. Black Trail at the John and Marion Becker Cedar Falls Preserve offers visitors an exceptional opportunity to explore a special area of The Edge of Appalachia Preserve System. Visitors will discover rare northern white cedar trees, a remarkable spectrum of wildflowers, dramatic cliffs, huge boulders, and—of course—Cedar Falls.Cedar Falls is a 15-foot cascade over a series of limestone ledges. Like many waterfalls in southern Ohio, the falls are best viewed in spring or after a hard rain, when water flow is the strongest.

Below the falls, Cedar Run has carved a deep gorge flanked on either side by cliffs up to 70 feet high. Although rare in a human lifetime, occasionally sections of this cliff face break off in one spectacular event. Evidence of this can be found along the trail as it moves through the “boulder field,” which is comprised of huge slump blocks of Peebles dolomite that have broken off from the cliffs above.

With its dramatic cliffs and huge boulders, the boulder field is rugged but, ironically, also one of the most fragile areas along the trail. In spring, carpets of lush wildflowers cover the ground and the rocks, their growth nurtured by the cool, moist and sheltered environment of the narrow gorge. Over long periods of time, crevices in the boulders and the surrounding talus slope have accumulated soil, allowing a diversity of wildflowers to colonize the forest floor. These delicate plants flower from March through May (prior to the emergence of deciduous tree leaves), when temperatures are moderate, soil is moist, and sunlight is readily available.

In the spring keep an eye out for: bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), bulblet bladder fern (Cystopteris bulbifera), crested dwarf iris (Iris cristata), bishop’s cap (Mitella diphylla), wood poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum), large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum), rue anemone (Anemonella thalictroides), wild ginger (Asarum canadense), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), and twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla).

Also found in the moist microclimate of the gorge is a small stand of northern white cedar that has survived since the end of the last ice age, more than 14,000 years ago. Northern white cedar is one of the longest-living trees in the Eastern U.S., with some specimens known to be more than 1,500 years old.
From Cedar Falls Preserve webpage

About Edge of Appalachia Preserve
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 is 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.

Ancient forests of massive oaks and American chestnut once blanketed nearly all of what would become southern and eastern Ohio. When the first white settlers arrived in the Ohio Valley, wolves and elk wandered this rustic landscape of pristine rivers and fertile forests.

Yet by the early 1900s, about 90 percent of the original forest cover had been cleared to make room for farmland and to feed the iron furnaces of southern Ohio – severely degrading part of North America’s oldest and most biologically diverse forest systems.

Today, Ohio’s Appalachian forests are returning, with nearly 40 percent of the region cloaked in mixed hardwood forest. The Nature Conservancy’s 20,000-acre Edge of Appalachia Preserve is a key component of this recovery process, mending habitats on a large scale and preserving the landscape’s unique natural legacy.
From Edge of Appalachia Preserve (The Nature Conservancy) webpage

No restroom facilities on this road. Restrooms located at Visitor Center on Waggoner Riffle Road opposite the Portman Trail.