I’m sorry to be the one to let the cat out of the bag, but this park is too wonderful not to share.
Shale Hollow Park is such a hidden gem. Located in Delaware County, the park is named for the curve of the tributary to the Olentangy River that runs through the park.
Big Run cree, which cuts its way through the park, is so gorgeous. It’s lined by 20 to 40 foot tall shale cliffs which is already impressive but there are also intermittent waterfalls to sweeten the deal. The park is home to beautiful forests, spring wildflowers, and a variety of adorable wildlife.
One of the best features of the park is how much it encourages visitors to get off the beaten path. There are natural play areas where the kids can splash in the water and an off-trail explorations area.
In this area, park visitors will cross a bridge, heading off trail to explore the floodplain. There you can wade in the breek, take a closer look at the shale that composes the cliffs, and more.
In the natural play area, there’s a primitive bridge for the kids to enjoy, space to play games, a log table perfect for mid-day snacks, and of course, an opportunity to get up close and personal with nature.
The park has two trails. The Great Horned Owl Trail is a gravel trail that takes about 45 minutes to hike. The 1.1 mile trail has moderate elevation changes as it winds up and down hill among the large oak trees that sit atop the shale cliffs.
The Overlook Trail is also gravel and it takes about 35 minutes to hike. The 1 mile trail will take you to the top of a cliff for a gorgeous view of Big Run creek, through the woodlands alongside the Big Run Creek ravine, as well as a mowed walking path.
While visiting the park, you’ll probably notice the large, spherical looking boulders. These rock formations are called concretions. These geological wonders may look manmade, but they’re entirely natural. Shale starts its journey as mud at the bottom of an ocean. As time goes on, the shale is pushed down and down, hardening. But when decomposing organic matter gets added to the mix, it can cause a sort of bubble effect, which is what produces concretions.
They are hundreds of millions of years old and fairly common throughout Ohio. Concretions aren’t considered valuable, but they come in all sizes, from very small to up to 9 feet in diameter and are incredibly interesting to see in person.
Shale Hollow Park is located at 6320 Artesian Run, Lewis Center, OH 43035. It’s open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and you can get all the info you’ll need to plan your visit right here.