eBird Bar Charts by Season
Ohio Birding Day Hike
The Ridges Trails
Ridges Trail (orange)
Athens Trail (red)
Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk (purple)
River Valley Nature Trail (black)
Connecting Paths (green)
Descriptions and maps of a hike at The Ridges is available on the AllTrails website.
River Valley Nature Trail: This is a short loop trail built by River Valley School students, .66 mile long. It has its own parking area along OH-682 (Whites Mill Road), .66 mile east of OH-56 (West Union Street) and .75 mile west of Richland Avenue.
Old roadways: There are gravel roads in open, mown areas on The Ridges that are popular with walkers. The main road goes from the water tower west to Radar Hill (0.8 mile) and an intersecting road that goes to Dairy Lane (0.6 mile).
The Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk: This is a 1.3-mile trail built by Hocking College students that begins at the Dairy Barn on Dairy Lane, and extends to the Water Tower Road, near the water tower. It passes through all three of the old cemeteries on the property. The trail crosses Piggery Lane just west of the parking area.
Athens Trail: There are two unofficial segments of the Athens Trail on The Ridges. One goes from the Southside Park picnic area west of South Park Road up to The Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk. The other goes from near Whites Mill Road (OH-682) across from Whites Mill, up to the edge of the woods just northwest of Radar Hill. The trail is planned to extend all the way across The Ridges, but approval is still pending.
Tips for birding The Ridges
Owned by Ohio University, The Ridges is the name given to the 700-acre complex that is the site of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum and its grounds, and the number 3 eBird hotspot for Athens County. Currently, the beautiful Kirkbride building is home to the Kennedy Art Museum and administrative offices. The grounds hold historic cemeteries, an observatory, an active land lab, woodlots, ravines, and regularly mowed fields.
The trail to Radar Hill is a gently sloping gravel road up through these fields that can be accessed from a parking lot off of Dairy Lane. I am always eager to head here starting mid-February at dusk to listen for the iconic peent calls and watch for the spectacular display flight of the American Woodcock. It’s one of my very favorite first signs of spring! During last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count, I was thrilled to have four Sandhill Cranes flyover ahead while enjoying the Woodcocks.
From Melissa Wales, Ohio Ornithological Society Southeast Regional Director
About The Ridges
The Ridges is both a large building complex and an open space area, all of which was established as a lunatic asylum and accompanying working farm. The Dairy Barn is to the north of the open-space area. During World War II, there was a radar installation on the highest point of the property, which is still called Radar Hill.
For outdoor recreation, The Ridges has several trails and walkways available.
To reach The Ridges in Athens, go south on Congress Street, which becomes Richland Avenue. Continue on Richland Avenue through the roundabout (just after the bridge over the Hocking River), then take the next right on Dairy Lane. The eastern section of Southside Park is now immediately to your right. Continue to the next street to your right, which is South Park Drive, and turn right. The western section of Southside Park is now on your left. Go up the hill and take the first left, Piggery Lane, to the parking area. Total driving distance from downtown Athens to the parking area: 1.5 miles.
From Ohio University The Ridges (Athens Area Outdoor Recreation Guide) webpage