Monday, September 16, 2013

Hayden Falls Park

Hayden Falls Park is a small park (about two acres) with a gorgeous waterfall and boardwalk path.  I first learned about Hayden Falls from some friends who moved to an apartment complex near the falls about a year or so ago.  They raved about how beautiful the falls are and how easy it is to get to them, the park is located just off of Hayden Run Road where it crosses the Scioto River.  Kenneth and I have driven past the parking lot for the falls several times, but had never made time to stop.

Then I read The Top 3 Fall Hikes in Central Ohio by Joe Vargo on The Columbus Experience Blog.  The post lists three parks that are a must for local hiking during the upcoming fall season: the Scioto River and Hayden Run Falls, the Scioto Mile and Scioto Audubon Metropark and (my personal favorite Columbus metropark) Battelle Darby Creek Metropark.  Kenneth and I have been to Scioto Audubon and Battelle Darby several times each (they're both wonderful!), after reading this article, I knew we had to make time for Hayden Falls!

We finally made our first visit after stopping in at the Winans Fine Chocolates and Coffee in Dublin (read my review of the German Village Winans here).  Hayden Falls is just a five minute drive from Winans.  Coffee, chocolate and a nice walk in the woods - what's better than that with the cool Fall weather we had last week?  

Author's Note: We ran into a little confusion about Hayden Falls vs. Griggs Nature Preserve (the above photograph was taken outside of the parking lot at Hayden Falls).  I thought I remembered reading in the Columbus Experience post that there were hiking trails, more than what it takes to get you to the falls.  Kenneth and I couldn't find any - our trip was still nice, but a lot shorter than what I was expecting.  When I got home I looked up Griggs Nature Preserve on the Columbus Recreation & Parks Department website.  Most of Griggs  Nature Preserve (which does include Hayden Falls) is on the east side of the Scioto River.  If we had crossed the river, or parked in a different parking lot, we would have found the trails.  This is noted in the Columbus Experience blog post, but I didn't remember when we were in the park!

All confusion aside, the park is lovely and the area we visited is small enough you can stop by (even if you're in the middle of running errands) for a bit of respite in nature.  Even a short walk outdoors can lift a bad mood and brighten your day!

Being outdoors and around trees is definitely good for your health - look at all of the lush greenery, and all of it off of a crazy busy road.

On our short walk we saw some of my favorite trees - pawpaws!  I haven't picked a pawpaw in the woods yet this season, but, Kenneth and I were able to go to the Ohio Pawpaw Festival this past weekend.  I will be posting a review of this wonderful festival soon!

We also saw a ton of jewelweed!  The middle of the above photograph, all the way from the left to right, is jewelweed.  

Author's Note: I'm about to go all 'plant nerd' on you and overload you with fun botanical knowledge, skip to the end if you'd like, but be warned, you're missing out on some wonderful, fun, local plant facts!

Jewelweed is an herbaceous plant (i.e. does not have a woody stem like a shrub or tree) with a flower slightly reminiscent of snapdragons.  They are awesome plants for three reasons: 

  • The leaves can be crushed and rubbed on the skin to stop the itching of insect bites, stinging nettle and other skin irritants.  
  • When held underwater, the leaves are metallic and shiny in appearance and are almost completely dry when removed from the water.
  • The seed pods of jewelweed, when ripe, explode with a light touch.  It's strangely addictive, popping jewelweed seed pods.  According to Wildman Steve Brill, the seeds are also edible (I only learned this today, I will have to report back on how they taste!).  

We have two different species of jewelweed in Ohio, yellow jewelweed (Impatiens pallida) and orange or spotted jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).  The photos below were not taken at Hayden Falls, the top right was taken at Ohio University on campus in Athens, Ohio.  The other two were taken at the Johnston Farmhouse in Piqua, Ohio.  Kenneth and I would have had to climb over the boardwalk to get to the yellow jewelweed at Hayden Falls, something I do not recommend doing!    

If you are able to stop by Hayden Falls, I highly recommend it!  Plant nerd or general appreciator of nature, it's nice to know a 'little' (the falls are actually 35 feet tall!) natural treasure like this one can exist within our 'concret jungle.'  

The walking of which I speak has nothing in it akin to taking exercise, as it is called, as the sick take medicine at stated hours …but it is itself the enterprise and adventure of the day. - Henry David Thoreau, Walking