Chilo Lock 34 Park & Crooked Run Nature Preserve: An Amazing Place To Explore

It’s a riverside walk, it’s a nature preserve, it’s a park, it’s an historical site, and it’s even got yurts!  Chilo Lock 34 Park had much more than we expected, and we were delighted with our walk despite the cold temperature and windy conditions.  Located at 521 County Park Road in Chilo, Ohio, it is off US Highway 52 in the village of Chilo, right on the Ohio River.  The entrance takes you through the Crooked Run Nature Preserve as you make your way to the paved parking lot located in front of the River Museum building.

picture of parkWe arrived at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2017, and the temperature was a brisk 37 degrees, with cloudy skies, a swift wind, and we dressed accordingly.  The old River Museum building looked fascinating, but it was closed, having a sign in the window that said, “Closed For The Season.”  The park was a grassy area with large trees, several shelters with picnic tables, other picnic tables standing alone, a playground for children with swings and nice climbing equipment, and a concrete paved area in front of the museum building with viewing spots of the Ohio River.

picture of crooked run entrance
Beginning of trail…

The nature trail started on the left side of the park, right along the river.  It was a dirt trail starting in the grass in the park, with a large information sign showing a map of the trail.  The trail was amazing from beginning to end as we began the walk along a high stretch of ground with the river racing below us.  The bare trees made it easy to see and hear the river, with the lovely view across the river to the woods on the other side.  After about 1/2 mile, the trail turned away from the Ohio River into the woods, and soon followed Crooked Run Creek as we entered the Crooked Run Nature Preserve.  We continued walking in and out of wooded areas along the creek, across a wooden bridge at one point, a short stretch on a gravel road, and ended at the site of two working yurts as we returned to the park, and had walked one mile.

picture of visitor center and yurts
Yurts, playground and visitor center…

Restrooms:  There was a brick building at the park with restrooms.  It was open, heated, and clean.

Traffic Noise:  There was no traffic noise.

Interesting Features:  Not only was there a nice area to view the Ohio River at the River Museum building, there were benches along the trail at scenic places, and the Crooked Run Nature Preserve had several bird watching observation shelters, complete with wooden benches and informative signs.  These were strategically placed at scenic spots above the creek where you might catch a glimpse of a Great Horned Owl, Pleated Woodpecker, or Black Capped Chickadee.  The yurts were another interesting feature, and can be rented out to groups.

picture of birdwatching shelters
Several birdwatching shelters along the trail

Historic Points of Interest:  Prior to the 1920’s, river traffic was at the mercy of the depth of the Ohio River, which at certain times of the year could drop to only 1 to 2 feet.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started a project of dams and locks up and down the Ohio River, which made the river navigable for almost the entire year, of which 54 were built.  Chilo Lock 34 park is the site of one of those dams, and the museum there is the old power house for the dam.

The dams were called wicket dams, and were made of wood slats that could be raised or lowered depending on how deep the river was at the time.  If lowered, a steamboat could just float over the top of the dam, and if raised, the boats had to use the locks to proceed along the river.  This greatly increased river traffic and commerce.   The wooden locks and dams were replaced in the 60’s with more modern versions, and Chilo Lock’s replacement is just up the river at Meldahl Dam.

picture of museum
The old dam powerhouse is the visitor center and museum

Overall Rating: We considered this park outstanding, and are looking forward to returning when the weather is warmer.  Being the only ones on the trail, completely immersed in nature, with the bare trees in interesting configurations, and greenery just beginning to sprout on the ground like a carpet, it’s safe to say, we were simply enchanted with our experience as it reminded us of the peace, beauty, and strength inherent in nature, and available to us all.


Sycamore Trees…

Went for a cold walk at Sycamore Park, 20 degrees, but noticed lots of trees that the park was named for… gleaming white in the morning sun. The trees in the picture aren’t that big, but some in the park are huge.  Wikipedia mentions settlers in the 1770’s living in hollowed out sycamore trees during hard times, and George Washington himself noted a sycamore tree that was 44 feet around. They really do stand out in a winter landscape.

picture of sycamore trees

New Richmond, Ohio’s, Charming Riverside Walk

If you’re looking for a change of scenery for a weekend walk, the riverside walk in New Richmond, OH, makes for a fun and easy change of pace. Even a cold and dreary day can be brightened by a brisk walk on the paved stretch along Front Street as you look out over the wide Ohio River to the woods in Kentucky.

picture of New Richmond riverwalk

We walked on Sunday, January 29, 2017, at 11:45 a.m., with light snow falling and a temperature of 32 degrees. We parked on Front Street where the sidewalk begins, and walked east along the river. At 2/10 of a mile the sidewalk ends, and we continued walking on the asphalt road until it turned away from the river at 1/2 mile. This perfect little 1/2 mile stretch of pavement made it easy to measure our distance as we walked up and down the street a few more times.

picture of Susanna Guest House
Susanna Guest House, a Bed and Breakfast named for Susanna Ashburn

The grand old buildings on one side of us and river on the other made for wonderful scenery, but the wildlife really made the walk special. We saw everything from huge hawks soaring off the tops of telephone polls, to a group of about 50 geese gathering in the road ahead, honking away as we nearly collided making our way past them.

picture of geese

Restrooms: There was a brick building with restrooms at the small Susanna Park across from the sidewalk stretch along the river. It was closed, however, with a sign saying, “Closed For The Season.”

Traffic Noise: Walking along Front Street meant there was traffic close by, but our walk was relatively quiet. There were very few cars on the road this Sunday morning, and we had the walkway to ourselves.

Interesting Features: Although we missed being immersed in trees and nature during our walk, there were plenty of sights and sounds to capture our attention and awe. We came upon several informative signs telling of the history of New Richmond, there was the beautiful big river rushing by, wildlife popping up unexpectedly, and the charming old homes and restaurants to explore and admire.

Historic Points of Interest: New Richmond has a rich history, with signs posted along Front Street telling the part it played in the Clermont Freedom Trail and the story of its founding by Jacob Light and Thomas Ashburn. I’m proud to say that I am a descendent of Thomas and Susanna Ashburn, as they were my 4 times great grandparents, so I find the story all the more interesting. Our family records include a copy of the letter Thomas Ashburn wrote to his cousin in England in 1821 describing how he made his way from England, arriving in Cincinnati, and later purchasing land that is now New Richmond. The letter tells how he and another man bought 80 acres of land near Cincinnati, and worked together for two years until they paid it off. They bought the land for the stones that were in the river and hills, carried them out of the water themselves, and sold them for walling stones. He paid $400 for this land, and was offered $8000 for it just a few years later as Cincinnati grew. He used his earnings to purchase 875 acres for $10,000, for “a farm on the bank of the river, twenty miles above Cincinnati”, and “laid off a town in one corner,” which he called Susanna, and was later joined with Light’s property to form the town of New Richmond. Copies of the letter are now in the Museum of the Historical Society in Columbus, Ohio, and in the Museum of Cambridge, England.

picture of Riverwalk

Overall Rating: This little stretch of riverside walking was refreshing and interesting. The barren winter conditions made it all the more magical as everything from the trees to the skyline seemed to stand out. Without the crowds, foliage, or commotion of the warmer seasons, we were able to soak in nature in its purest form. From the twisting branches of the old village trees to the worn shore of the massive river, our souls were touched and calmed as we connected with the gentle rhythm and amazing sights of the natural world around us.

picture of New Richmond