Nature Notes

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Dogs to run through snow, pull men with beards

Last year, Mother Nature wasn't kind to the Ohio Sled Dog Classic, which was postponed and then cancelled due to good weather. This year, the state's only major sled-dog competition will return Jan. 10-11 to Punderson State Park, about 30 miles east of Cleveland.

For all of you not from Geauga County, it's in the heart of the snow belt, where normally there's plenty of frozen flakes for the annual race held by the Siberian Husky Club of Cleveland.

This year, mushers with two-, four- and six-dog teams of huskies and other stout breeds will navigate courses between 1.5 and six miles. The reschedule date is Feb. 21-22.


Prime fishing spots now up for grabs

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources doesn't issue permits to shoot fish in a barrel, but the group will give you a license for something even better: angling for trout along a half-mile section of Cold Creek.

See, this stream runs through the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Erie County, one place where they breed the swimmers stocked in lakes and ponds across Ohio. It's some of the best sport fishing in the state, and only about 90 adult and 50 youth permits will be issued for two mini-seasons starting March 30.

Registrations to the lottery must be received by Jan. 31. Winners will be announced in early March.


Stewards of Ohio's storied trail holding campout

Running a 1,444-mile loop through all of Ohio's varied terrain, the Buckeye Trail is a milestone for top-notch hikers. Those wanting an introduction to this emerald belt can hike a manageable chunk and meet those who care for it Jan. 10-11 during the Buckeye Trail Association's annual winter gathering.

The group will tackle parts of the Loveland section and camp beneath the stars Saturday night. Meet at 10 a.m. at Fort Ancient, an American Indian museum about 75 miles west of Columbus.


Christmas is for the birds, group hopes

Local birders are joining the National Audubon Society for its annual Christmas Bird Count, which is used to assess the health of bird populations and guide conservation action. Columbus Audubon is holding several sessions, including one Jan. 3 at O'Shaughnessy Reservoir, a hotspot for waterfowl and raptors.


Metro Park highlights

Like the United States Postal Service, the Metro Parks staff works through rain, sleet, snow and hail. Here's a few of the classes and activities on tap in January. A full schedule's available at

Photo Prowl

Blendon Woods, Westerville

Jan. 3, 11 a.m.

Improve your technique and build your portfolio with shots from the park. Meet at the nature center.

Morning Bird Hike

Highbanks, Lewis Center

Jan. 4, 8 a.m.

Explore the park's varied terrain for waterfowl, raptors and other species. Meet at the nature center.

Magnificent Mammals

Chestnut Ridge, Carroll

Jan. 11, 2 p.m.

Park staff will display skulls and skins before leading a two-mile hike to search for live animals. Meet at the Springhouse Program Area.

Outdoor Tip of the Month

The colder months present your favorite trails in a completely new way, and winter hiking is one of my favorite outdoor activities: silent, secluded and cold. For those who share this passion, the Wild Mountain Mamas have suggestions for hydration. Carry a wide-mouth water bottle upside down because liquid freezes from the top. Also, use a wool mitten if you don't have a padded bottle holder.