COLUMBUS – Spring is slowly blooming to life. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is offering several hikes in March to encourage Ohioans to explore more of the Buckeye State. The hikes are a wonderful way to learn more about the great outdoors and get fit naturally during 2016.

The first two hikes on the list are in Champaign County.

*Geology of Champaign County Hike at Siegenthaler Esker State Nature Preserve – Winter is the best time to see unique remnants of the last ice age. Other glacial features can be seen at this site, in addition to the two eskers protected here. This hour-long hike will held on Sunday, March 6, from 2 to 3 p.m. beginning at the parking lot located at 5505 Couchman Road.

*Skunk Cabbage Hike at Kiser Lake Wetlands State Nature Preserve (Champaign County) – The skunk cabbage is our first true wildflower of the year to emerge and is one of Ohio’s more mysterious plants. On this hike, we will discuss the history of the region and the importance of Ohio’s remaining wetlands. Meet at the headwaters of the lake at 3975 Kiser Lake Road, St. Paris on Sunday, March 13, at 2 p.m. for the hour-long hike.

*Hike at the Maple Syrup Festival at Hueston Woods State Park (Preble County) – Visitors can enjoy many fun activities at the 50th annual Maple Syrup Festival. Start off with a hay ride and learn about maple syrup production, or enjoy a hike through the “Big Woods” of Hueston Woods State Nature Preserve on March 5-6 and March 12-13, which will be held noon-4 p.m. each day. For questions, call 513-523-6347.

*Hike at the Maple Syrup Festival at Caesar Creek State Park (Warren County) – Enjoy the festivities of the maple syrup festival and meet with the park naturalist at Caesar Creek Pioneer Village for an optional tour through the sugar shack, a short film in the village schoolhouse and, if you’re feeling adventurous, enjoy a hike through the sugar bush. The maple syrup festival will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, March 19-20.

*Spring Equinox Hike at Stage’s Pond State Nature Preserve (Pickaway County) – Curious about the seasonal travel of the sun through the sky? Join us for a morning presentation covering solstice and equinox highlights as well as a discussion on migrating waterfowl and breeding frogs. After the program, take a short hike to look for signs of spring in the preserve. Hikers should wear waterproof footwear. This opportunity will be held on Saturday, March 19, from 8 a.m. to noon. For more information, call 740-380-8918.

*First Day of Spring Hike at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve (Fairfield County) – Shake off cabin fever and stretch those legs with a three-hour hike over the hills and ravines. The 6-mile hike begins at the Boch Hollow office. The hike features the preserve’s new trail system, including the majority of the newly constructed Buckeye Trail through Boch Hollow. This will be a long hike so be sure to bring plenty of water and wear sturdy shoes on Sunday, March 20, at 2 p.m. For more information, call 740-380-8918.

*“Spring Into Fitness” Trail Run at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve (Portage County) – Combine fitness with the serenity of nature. Put on your running shoes or boots as we experience the preserve in a totally unique and healthy way. Please dress according to the weather. The trails at Eagle Creek are semi-unimproved (mostly bare soil) and will afford a moderate challenge when running. Total distance will be approximately three miles. Refreshments will be available after the run. Those interested in participating should meet at the preserve at 11027 Hopkins Road in Garrettsville on Saturday, March 26, at 10 a.m. For more information, call 330-527-5118.

*Marsh Madness Hike at Maumee Bay State Park (Lucas County) – There will be a guided hike around the boardwalk on Saturday, March 26, from 1 to 2 p.m. We will look for signs of spring in the marsh and convince ourselves that warmer weather is around the corner. For more information, call 419-836-7758.

For more information on these hikes and other recreational opportunities at state parks, forests, nature preserves and wildlife areas, go to This is a great way for Ohioans to spend more time outdoors as the weather slowly turns to spring.

ODNR is continuing the #OhioWinter16 photo challenge. Upload your photos to Instagram, Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #OhioWinter16 to potentially win an overnight stay in a cabin at one of our 74 Ohio State Parks.

Other naturalist-led hikes slated in other parts of Ohio

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Submitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.