Ross County Birding Drive

Ohio Birding Drives
Ohio Birding Drives are routes for birding trips which can be accomplished in one day, stopping to walk and bird at various eBird hotspots. For each birding drive, a Google map is provided with the route and suggested stops at eBird hotspots. You may save the link to the Google map on your smartphone or tablet, or print a copy on paper to take with you. Links are provided with information about each eBird hotspot. Follow those links for more information about birding each location.

Ross County Birding Drive
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.

This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in Ross County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.

Ross County

Paint Creek Recreational Trail–Austin Trailhead
Austin Road
Frankfort, Ohio 45628

The Austin Road Trailhead parking lot is at the junction of Austin Road and OH-138, 3.5 miles west of Frankfort.

Tri-County Triangle Trail, Inc. was formed in the early 1990’s with an idea to convert abandoned railroad right-of-ways into public multi-use trails connecting Chillicothe, Frankfort, Greenfield, and Washington Court House. Since this corridor formed a triangle the name for the group was established. The name of the trail itself was recently changed to the Paint Creek Recreational Trail.
From Tri-County Triangle Trail website

From the parking lot, you can walk or bike the trail in either direction.
+ The trail going northwest, to the point where it crosses Paint Creek, parallels Paint Creek for 1.2 miles.
+ The trail going southeast, crossing Dexter Road, parallels Paint Creek for 1.6 miles.

Mound City Group
16062 OH-104
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

From the Austin Trailhead, take OH-138 north for .9 mile. Turn right to merge onto US-35 east and drive 13.6 miles. Take the OH-104 exit toward High Street and turn left on OH-104 north. Drive 1.8 miles to the Mound City Group. The parking lot is on the right.

These earthworks consist of a 13-acre rectangular earth enclosure with at least 23 mounds. The height of the earth walls of the enclosure is about 3 to 4 feet, with an entrance or gateway on both the east and west sides. All the mounds are dome-shaped except for one that is elliptical. The largest mound of the group was described by early explorers as 17.5 feet high and 90 feet in diameter. There are two additional mounds just outside the enclosure. All the walls and mounds have been reconstructed and are clearly visible.

During World War I, the Mound City Group site was occupied by a military training center known as Camp Sherman. In the early 1920s after Camp Sherman was razed, the Ohio Historical Society excavated the site and began reconstruction of the Hopewell earthworks and mounds.
From Mound City Group website

Hopeton Earthworks
1444 Hopetown Road
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

From the Mound City Group, take OH-104 north for 1.8 miles. Continue straight onto OH-207 south and drive 2.1 miles. Turn right onto River Road and drive 2.4 miles. Turn right and in .6 mile turn right again onto Hopetown Road.

Although the Hopewell mounds and earthworks of Ross County have been well known to the scientific community for more than 150 years, many basic questions have yet to be answered about the sites, and about the people and culture who built them. The early archaeological research focused on mounds and mortuary behavior (e.g., Squier and Davis 1848; Thomas 1894; Mills 1922; Moorehead 1922) and yielded a great deal of information about the artistic and ritual aspects of Hopewell life.

Recent trends in Hopewell research have emphasized settlement pattern analysis and the relationships of the larger mound and earthwork sites to smaller villages and hamlets (Dancey and Pacheco 1997; Pacheco 1996). Comparisons among the large mound and earthwork sites have demonstrated some broad general similarities, but the structure and configuration of most sites are surprisingly diverse. The most thoughtful attempts to build broad explanatory models about the Hopewell world continue to be plagued by a lack of understanding about the chronology, structure, and function of individual earthwork sites. We believe this can be overcome with sustained, multi-year studies of individual earthwork sites.

The Midwest Archaeological Center has initiated a long-term study of the Hopeton Earthworks, beginning research in 1994 with a combination of geophysical surveys and strategic testing. Subsequent research was conducted in 1997 and 1998 (Lynott 2001). The 2001 and 2002 investigations, described here, are a continuation of that work. This work is intended to answer specific questions about the site and to develop a model to better interpret the nature and significance of the archaeological resources at this location.
From Hopeton Earthworks (Midwest Archaeological Center) webpage

Tar Hollow State Forest (Ross County)
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

From the Hopeton Earthworks, turn left onto OH-195 north and drive 3.2 miles. Turn right onto OH-180 east and drive 6.4 miles. Turn right onto Walnut Creek Road and go .5 mile. Turn left onto Marietta Road and go .4 mile. Continue straight onto Oak Lane and drive 2.1 miles. Turn right onto Charleston Pike for .3 mile. Make a slight left to stay on Charleston Pike and drive 1.5 miles. Turn left onto Tar Hollow Road and drive 1.1 miles. Turn right on North Ridge Road.

The western half of Tar Hollow State Forest is in Ross County. There are many forest roads and trails in this section to explore, including a section of the Buckeye Trail. North and South Ridge Roads provide a sample of the area to the west of Tar Hollow State Park.

Seventeen miles of paved forest roads and 14 miles of gravel forest roads provide a great opportunity for a scenic drive and allow good access to all areas of the forest.

Tar Hollow State Forest originated from the Ross-Hocking Land Utilization project of the 1930s. The purpose of the program was to locate families to more productive land, thereby enabling them to better sustain a living. Following termination of the project, the land was leased to the Division of Forestry and finally transferred to the State in 1958. Tar Hollow is Ohio’s third largest state forest, containing 16,120 acres.
From Tar Hollow State Forest website

Tar Hollow State Park (Ross County)
Tar Hollow State Park–Sheep Pasture Shelter
Laurelville, Ohio 43135

The Sheep Pasture Shelter is a picnic area at the junction of North Ridge Road and Park Road 10. Follow Park Road 10 east for 1.9 miles to Tar Hollow State Park. Park at Pine Lake to walk and bird this area.

Twisting park and forest roads pass through 604 acres of deep ravines and dense woodlands. Scattered shortleaf and pitch pines growing on the ridges were once a source of pine tar for early settlers, hence the name Tar Hollow. Dogwoods, redbuds and a variety of wildflowers color the hillsides in the springtime. Fall’s pageant of color is spectacular.
From Tar Hollow State Park website

Ross Lake Wildlife Area
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

From Tar Hollow State Park, retrace your route to North Ridge Road. Take Park Road 10 west for 1.9 miles, turn right onto North Ridge Road for .6 mile. Turn left onto Park Road 16 and go 1.1 miles. Turn left onto Charleston Pike and drive 8.3 miles. Turn right onto Dry Run Road and drive 1.8 miles. Turn left onto Lick Run Road for 1.6 miles. Turn left onto Blacksmith Hill Road and go .8 mile. Turn left onto West Hydell Road for .8 mile. Arrive at Ross Lake Wildlife Area.

This area lies two miles east of Chillicothe. Easy access is available from US-35 via the East Main Street exit and Blacksmith Hill Road (C-238). The 125-acre lake lies in the comparatively shallow Lick Run valley between steep slopes and flat-topped hills which are covered by brushlands, old fields, and mature woodlands.

More than half the land is wooded; oak and hickory are the most common upland hardwoods, along with lesser numbers of beech and sugar maple. Elm, ash, and maple are the major bottomland hardwoods. Patches of red and white pine have been planted in reverting upland fields. Index of Ohio’s trees from the Division of Forestry. One-fifth of the area consists of reverting old fields with a mixture of shrubby coverts and native grasses. Hawthorn, wild crabapple, sumac, blackberry, and Japanese honeysuckle are important wildlife food plants in and along these old fields. Nearly one-fifth of the land is maintained as open land.

This area was covered by the Illinoian and early Wisconsin glaciers, but not by the latest Wisconsin glaciation. Thus a high percentage of the land is too steep for agricultural uses. Prior to state acquisition, most of the area was reverting farmland and heavily cutover woodland. Land acquisition for the wildlife area began in 1958. Construction of the Ross Lake dam was completed in 1967.
From Ross Lake Wildlife Area webpage

Scioto Trail State Park
144 Lake Road
Chillicothe, Ohio 45601

From Ross Lake Wildlife Area, turn left on Blacksmith Hill Road and go 1 mile. Turn right onto Charleston Pike for .6 mile. Turn left to merge onto US-23 south and drive 9.2 miles. Turn left onto Oh-372 and go .6 mile. Turn left onto North Ridge Road and drive 1.4 miles. North Ridge Road turns slightly left and become Lake Road. Arrive at Scioto Trail State Park in .3 miles.

There are tips for birding Scioto Trail State Park from the Ohio Ornithological Society website.

Located in the Appalachian foothills bordering the Scioto River, the park’s rugged ridge tops and wooded valleys support a host of natural wonders. This densely forested hill country is reminiscent of the southern Appalachians supporting a magnificent stand of oak and hickory. In spring, the forest trails are lined with flowering dogwood and redbud trees. The forest floor displays woodland wildflowers including spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, wild blue phlox and wild geranium. Ferns, mosses, and lichens coat the sandstone outcroppings. Mushroom hunters delight in the abundance of the delicious morel mushroom.

The remoteness of the area and dense forest provides excellent habitat for some of Ohio’s most elusive wildlife. Wild turkey populations are thriving in this region along with ruffed grouse and white-tailed deer. Small mammals of Scioto Trail include red fox, skunk, opossum, gray squirrel and raccoon among many others. Rare sightings of bobcat and black bear have been reported. Many reptiles and amphibians find the woodlands and streams of the area desirable.
From Scioto Trail State Park website