Blackhand Gorge–Marie Hickey Trail
eBird Bar Charts by Season
Ohio Birding Day Hike
Blackhand Gorge Trails
Tips for birding Marie Hickey Trail
Parking for the Marie Hickey Trail is in the north parking lot on Rock Haven Road Northeast. This trail is a 2.1-mile loop.
There is a gravel parking area at the Marie Hickey Trail on Rock Haven Road. The Marie Hickey Trail is somewhat challenging, with some steep areas, but it yields excellent warbler birding in spring and fall.
From Margaret Bowman
This trail overlooks Licking River gorge. I’ve seen all 3 Ohio Buteos and both Accipiters there, constant Barred Owl presence, and most Ohio migrant warblers pass through. There are breeding Black-and-white, Prairie, Cerulean, Yellow-throated, Louisiana Waterthrush, Northern Parula, American Redstart, Blue-winged, and maybe Kentucky Warblers. Always a singing Indigo Bunting if you walk past the pumpjack at the southernmost point of loop. Several singing White-eyed Vireos. Lots of Golden-crowned Kinglets in winter, tons or White-throated Sparrows, too. Have seen a Mink frolicking in some open grass and two Gray Foxes one spring. Bald Eagles cruise the river.
From Shane Brown
The main entrance near Toboso has a large paved parking lot and pit toilets. The west end of the Blackhand Gorge Trail has two gravel parking areas: the old one off of Brushy Fork Road and a new one just south of the bridge on Brownsville Road (County Highway 668). The Blackhand Gorge Bike Trail is wheelchair accessible, and plans are in the works to re-pave it.
From Margaret Bowman
About Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve
+ Geologically spectacular narrow sandstone gorge cut by the Licking River
+ Excellent display of spring wildflowers
+ 10 miles of trail including 4 miles of bike trail
The prime feature of this preserve is a narrow, east-west gorge cut by the Licking River through the famous Blackhand sandstone formation. It also boasts the only bike trail in Ohio’s state nature preserve system; more than 4 miles of bike trail wind through the preserve.
The preserve is rich in natural as well as early Ohio history. The name Blackhand, for which the preserve is named, originated from a dark, hand-shaped Indian petroglyph which was engraved on the face of a massive sandstone cliff along the north side of the river. The engraving was destroyed in 1828 when canal builders dynamited the cliff face, during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal, which runs through the gorge. Sections of the canal towpaths and canal locks may be seen from the trails along the river.
The dry hilltops are dominated by oak-hickory mature woods along with Virginia pine and mountain laurel. Yellow birch, cherry birch, and eastern hemlock grow on northerly exposures. It is an excellent site for viewing woodland spring wildflowers.
Located in Licking County 8 miles east of Newark on OH-16, exit southeast on OH-146 and proceed .25 mile to County Road 273. The preserve’s entrance and parking lot are 1.5 miles south on County Road 273 just outside of Toboso.
From Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve webpage
Restrooms on site.
The Blackhand Gorge Bike Trail is wheelchair accessible.