Eastern Region Viewing Area

LOCATION and PHOTOS

Blue-eyed Mary.
Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsonia verna) greets the visitor in mass in the woods at the parking area. Photo by Cheryl Coon.

Toadshade.
Toadshade (Trillium sessile), also known as sessile trillium, occurs through the mesic bottomland forest along the first part of the trail and entry road. Photo by Doug Bentley.

Nodding trillium.
Nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum) is also found along the first part of the trail in the mesic bottomland habitat. Photo by Cheryl Coon.

Wildcat Hollow Trail

Forest: Wayne National Forest

District: Athens Ranger District

Description: Wildcat Hollow is the most popular hiking trail on the Athens Ranger District. Miles of scenic trail wind along ridgetops and stream bottoms; allowing hikers to venture through white pine plantations, open meadows, deep deciduous forests, along quiet streams, and past rock outcrops. The trail offers 5 and 15 mile loop trails overlooking a beautiful landscape. White diamonds mark the trail. A boot-brush station and informational sign will greet you the trailhead. Please help reduce the spread of garlic mustard and other non-native invasive plants along the trail!

For those that tread softly, it is easy to catch a glimpse of the variety of animals who call the forest home. Birdwatchers, be sure to bring your binoculars, as Wildcat Hollow is part of the Hocking Valley Bird Trail. Likewise, butterfly and moth enthusiasts should bring their guides, because the diversity of plants hosts many pollinator species.

Other activities to enjoy in the area: include hunting, camping, backpacking, Burr Oak Cove Campground, Burr Oak State Park (fishing, canoeing, boating, and swimming), Wolf Creek State Wildlife Area, Trimble State Wildlife Area, and the State Route 78 Scenic byway.

Wildflower Viewing: Spring ephemerals are at their peak in late April and early May; the recommended time for wildflower viewing. From the main parking, first wander a short ways back along the road you just drove in on to view wildflowers along the roadside. You can see yellow trout lily (Erythronium americana), deep red toadshade (Trillium sessile), purple larkspur (Delphinium exaltatum), lilac sweet William (Phlox divaracata), and twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla). If you look up the hillside, you can spot large groups of Ohio’s state wildflower, large flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum).

At the Wildcat Hollow trailhead, you will begin your hike winding through a planted plantation of white pine that experienced a lot of windthrow in a 2010 windstorm. The windthrow has opened the overstory and restarted the natural succession of this area to native hardwoods. Pawpaws, boxelders, and maples are beginning to become established. Eels Branch stream runs through the lowland and provides one of the best examples of a mesic-forested bottomland ecosystem on the District. The flowers that you may encounter include red nodding trillium (Trillium cernuum), spring beauty (Claytonia virginica), wild geranium (Geranium maculatum), violets (blue, white and downy yellow), Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica), mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), squirrel-corn (Dicentra canadensis), Dutchman breeches (Dicentra cucullaria), toothwort (Dentaria laciniata), Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptens), synandra (Synandra hispida), wild ginger (Asarum canadense) thick blankets of blue-eyed Mary (Collinsonia verna), and much more.

Once the trail leaves the white pine, it begins to climb towards the ridge top, with the overstory changing to a mix of native hardwoods (oak, hickory, beech, sourwood, buckeye and more). Understory wildflowers you can discover along this portion include round-leaved hepatica (Hepatica americana), stonecrop (Sedum ternatum), black and blue cohoshes (Cimifuga racemosa, Caulophyllum thalictroides), rue anemone (Anemonella thalictroides), wood sorrel (Oxalis grandiflora), various sedges (Carex spp), and blood root (Sanguinaria canadensis). 

Safety First: Be prepared for varying temperatures in early spring along with unexpected rainstorms. There are multiple stream crossings in the area along with rugged trail surface, so we recommend you wear sturdy footwear with ankle support. Take enough food and water for a daylong hike. Be sure to check trail maps so that you remain on the day loop versus the backpacking loop. Driving to and from the trail head is along narrow, sometimes graveled, roads that have many blind curves, so drive at low speeds and be aware of wildlife and oncoming traffic. This trail is a popular spot for turkey hunters. If you are visiting during Ohio turkey hunting season, be sure to wear orange colored clothing (avoid red and blue clothes, so you are not mistaken for a turkey).

Directions: Follow signs from Highway 13 south of Corning, Ohio. A parking area at the southern end of the trail network accesses the first loop of the trail. Visit, or call, the Athens Ranger District Office (13700 US Highway 33, Nelsonville, Ohio) for trail maps and directions, 740-753-0101. Visit the Wayne National Forest website for more informaiton.

Ownership and Management: U.S. Forest Service, Wayne National Forest, Athens Ranger District

Closest Incorporated Town: Glouster, Ohio