With spring comes new life, longer days, and an itch to get outdoors. And parks across the local region have several ways for people to do just that.
“You’re seeing more of nature come alive,” said Debbie Daulton, camp coordinator at Rocky Fork Lake, of the springtime. “You start seeing more activity.”
And that activity, Daulton added, doesn’t just include birds, squirrels, and other “critters.”
Spring events at Rocky Fork include Market Days on May 28 and 29 at the North Beach parking lot. Then, on June 11, the park will host a Campers’ Spring Yard Sale. Numerous bass tournaments are hosted throughout the season, Daulton added.
Also, she said, “When it’s warm, you start seeing a lot more … people just coming out and walking,” she said. “It’s been a long, cold winter.”
Daulton said spring is a time when people start to come to Rocky Fork Lake to enjoy a bit of fresh air and to start asking questions about the upcoming camping season.
Guests to the park can enjoy a wide range of activities, including disc golf, basketball, fishing, hiking, putt-putt golf, and volleyball. A total of 800 docks can be rented.
Discounts are available for military and veterans, as well as Passport America and Golden Buckeye cardholders.
Daulton also described some of the local wildlife that is seen in the spring. Wildflowers called white trilliums often grow near the Highland County airport, she said.
Daulton added that people will “start seeing little ducks” and “baby geese.”
She also said that in the past, nesting bald eagles have come to Rocky Fork Lake. “That’ll bring people out,” Daulton said.
For more information, contact the park office at 937-393-4284 or visit www.rockyforksatepark.com. To make reservations, call 1-866-644-6727 or visit parks.ohiodnr.gov/rockyfork.
The Rocky Fork Lake camp store is currently open Thursdays – Saturdays in April. In May, the store will open daily.
Spring is also in the air at Paint Creek State Park. On May 14, the park will host a family birdhouse building program, according to Nicole Lovett, campground coordinator. Interested families must sign up. The event is limited to 10 families
Lovett said that while spring can be a time of “getting things ready” at the park, it is also a chance to be out in nature after “being cooped up all winter.”
She recommended that springtime visitors to parks be aware of deer. Following a winter without people around, deer can sometimes be more active.
Lovett also said, “One of the big things (to do in the spring) is watching the weather. It’s so unpredictable.”
To learn more or make reservations, call 937-981-7061 parks.ohiodnr.gov/paintcreek.
Meanwhile, at the Highlands Nature Sanctuary, a Wildflower Pilgrimage will be hosted from April 15 – 17. The event requires registration and costs $135 for the weekend.
The pilgrimage begins with a program and orientation on Friday. Saturday features breakfast, a guided hike, and dinner. The event ends on Sunday with another breakfast and guided hike. This marks the Wildflower Pilgrimage’s 11th year.
“Everyone seems to enjoy it,” said Kayla Hanning, visitor services coordinator with Arc of Appalachia, which manages the Highlands Nature Sanctuary.
Trilliums, she said, are the wildflowers that “most people come to see.” She described the pilgrimage as a chance to “get out in nature.”
Hanning also said that the guided hikes in the Wildflower Pilgrimage will also include a hike at Fort Hill, which features earthworks left behind by ancient people of the area.
For more information about the Highlands Nature Sanctuary or Fort Hill, visit www.arcofappalachia.org.
And while there are many natural treasures to find in the spring – from wildflowers to wildlife – the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reminds those heading outside to keep “wildlife wild,” according to information provided by the ODNR.
The ODNR describes wildlife parents as being devoted to their young. However, they may need to leave their young alone to find food. Therefore, an animal on its own is not necessarily an orphan.
Keeping distance from young animals is the best protection for “both humans and wildlife,” the ODNR adds. Wild animals can carry diseases, which could be transmissible to people or pets. Also, according to the ODNR, “it is illegal to possess, own, control, restrain, or keep any wild animal.”
If an animal seems injured or if you know for a fact that a young animal has lost its parent, call the nearest Wildlife District Office.
For more information about young animals and other wildlife, visit www.ohiodnr.gov.
Sarah Allen is a freelance writer and former reporter for The Times-Gazette.