Blacklick Woods Metro Park
Columbus Metro Parks
Reynoldsburg, Franklin County
From Interstate 270, take the Reynoldsburg exit. Take Main Street East to Brice Road. Turn right on Brice, then take a left on Livingston Avenue. The park will be on the right about 1 mile and a half after turning on to Livinston. Follow the main Park Road to a parking lot at the Beech Maple Lodge/Ashton Pond.
- Length: .5 miles
- Duration: 1/2 hour
- Surface: Crushed Limestone
- Type: Loop Trail-Hiking
- Difficulty: Easy
- Accessibility: The trail is ADA accessible.
This central Ohio hiking trail is well worth investing a half hour or more. The flat, easy trail leads you through a nice beech-maple forest, beautiful displays of spring wildflowers, and also takes the hiker past a swamp forest area. While you are hiking this great nature trail, check out the Maple Loop Trail, which is accessible from the Beech Trail.
Along more moist areas of the trail, you may look up and see the feathery compound leaves of the Black Walnut tree.
Sauntering through this serene beech-maple forest, you will note that in the drier portions, the ground is covered with last year’s leaves, and fairly sparse plant-life. However, much of the land along the trail is moist, so you will likely see a number of plants adapted to wetter site conditions as you hike along. For example, native impatiens, or touch-me-nots line the trail. After mid-summer, if you touch the small slender seedpods of the touch-me-not, the seeds will burst forth in a surprising blast. This mechanism allows the seeds to be widely dispersed, whether from the force of the bust itself, or by depositing the seeds on passing animals.
Along with the impatiens, other moist-condition plants along the hiking trail include Avens, a white-flowered plant with three-lobed ragged leaves. By mid-summer the white flowers will be mostly gone and the seedheads will be growing into bristly looking thimbles. Enchanter’s Nightshade also lines the trail. If you are not careful, your pantlegs may pick up a few of its small bur-like seeds. As with the impatiens with its bursting seedpods, these little burs are nature’s way of spreading the enchanter’s nightshade out into the forest. The genus name of enchanter’s nightshade, Circaea, is derived from Circe, an enchanter from Greek Mythology who used the plant to turn Odysseus and his crew into pigs.
If walking the trail clockwise from the Beech-Maple Lodge, after you pass the Maple Loop Trail, the woods will become noticeably wetter. Here and there you will notice depressions in the surface of the forest floor. During drier seasons, smaller ones may appear dry, with little plant life. During the wetter seasons, or after a heavy rain, the depressions will fill with water.
These ponds, known as vernal pools, support a great diversity of life, including plants specifically adapted for life in vernal pools, salamanders, crustaceans such as fairy shrimp, and other macroinvertebrates. The tree community in this swamp area is composed of Pin Oak, and Bur Oak, among other trees adapted to life with wet feet.
Besides the vernal pool and swamp areas near the trail, you will also notice a number of small linear depressions that go under the trail in small culverts. These are ephemeral streams. Dry most of the time, during wet periods, these streams flow with rain water. The ephemeral streams combine and become bigger and bigger, picking up more and more water until they eventually flow into a perennial, or permanently wet, stream. These ephemeral streams are very important. Think of them as the capillaries feeding clean water into the arteries, or perennial streams and rivers. The flat woods of Blacklick Woods Metro Park are an important source of clean water for Blacklick Creek, which flows through a portion of the eastern edge of the park.
Enjoy this short but sweet hike any time of the year for a peaceful, refreshing journey through one of the best beech-maple forests left in Franklin County, Ohio.