Charles R. Goslin Nature Sanctuary
"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all." ~ Oscar Wilde
Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve
Charles R. Goslin Nature Sanctuary
Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve is a beautiful 554-acre haven in Fairfield County. It is a quiet place for a great workout. There are rarely more than one to two other cars parked in the parking lot. The exception was during the shutdown for the Coronavirus when the place was packed. There were cars parked illegally everywhere.
The State Nature Preserve sits directly next to Arney Run Park and The Mink Hollow Covered Bridge.
Walking to Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve
Getting to the actual State Nature Preserve is a workout itself. The parking lot is about .6 mile from the Nature Preserve trail entrance. To get to the preserve you must walk a long limestone driveway. There are no cars allowed back the driveway since it ends into someone’s home. It is very strange, and there is a feeling that you are trespassing. But there are a few signs along the way to point you in the right direction.
Once you get to the end of the driveway, a farmhouse sits on the left and the entrance to the preserve sits on the right.
There are 2 trails at Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve. The Orange Trail (aka Jacobs Ladder Trail) and the Blue Trail (aka Christmas Rocks Trail). If you choose to walk both trails in one visit, you will get in approx. 4.5 miles.
The Orange Trail aka Jacob’s Ladder Trail
The Orange Trail starts at the trailhead. It measures approximately 1.8 miles in length (full loop).
The trail starts off flat and easy to walk but quickly becomes rough. You could easily twist an ankle walking on all the stones on the path. Just watch your footing, and you should be fine. However, there are a lot of birds along this section of the path. If you are out to do some birdwatching, make sure to stop when searching the trees.
About one mile up the path you will come to an intersection. To continue on the Orange Trail you can either go left or continue down the path. Since the trail loops, you can choose the first trail or continue down the path and follow the trail around the loop.
We chose to go to the second trail entrance. The loop of the Orange Trail heads up a wooden staircase. The trail is steep and narrow. It winds back and forth and makes its way through a large patch of ferns. The trail continues on, going up and up over stones and tree roots.
Once at the top, you will reach Jacobs Ladder Overlook. It is the perfect place for a break. The ground is flat and overlooks the hilltops.
From Jacobs Ladder Overlook the trail heads downward. The trail is covered in trees roots and quickly becomes stones. They are scattered out and can be hard to walk down. When they are wet, they will probably be very slippery and dangerous.
The landscape on the way down is completely different than on the way up. This side of the trail has several huge rock outcroppings and a large stone cliff wall.
The trail loops back to the main trail. From there you can head back to the parking lot, or head to the Blue Trail. If you only choose to walk the Orange Trail, you will walk approx. 3 miles since you must walk the long driveway to get back to the Christmas Rocks Nature Preserve trailhead.
The Blue Trail aka Christmas Rocks Trail
The Blue Trail is also a loop. It sits at the end of the Orange Trail. So, to get to the Blue Loop you must walk the Orange Trail for approximately .7 mile.
The Blue Trail is a little more moderate than the Orange Trail. The grade is a little more gradual and the trail surface doesn’t seem to be as rough and hard to walk.
The trail is narrow and natural. There are 4 footbridges.
The trail begins right at the end of the orange trail. A short way down you can finally get a chance to see the creek that runs beside the trail.
Continuing on the trail you will twist and turn through the trees.
The trail becomes more open before you begin to make your way up to the top of the ridge. This takes you by many rock outcroppings and a small cave.
Heading back down from the ridge you will meet back up with the Orange Trail. If you choose to walk the Blue Trail, and skip the Orange Loop you will walk approx. 4.1 miles since you must walk the long driveway to get back to the Christmas Rocks Nature Preserve trailhead.
Wildlife, Wildflowers and Fungi
Since Christmas Rocks Nature Preserve is also the Charles R. Goslin Nature Sanctuary the wildlife and plant life are protected. However, the surrounding land isn’t.
We were able to see many species birds including the Common Yellowthroat and Scarlet Tanager. Acording to eBird there have 99 species spotted at the Ohio Nature Preserve. There were also several chipmunks and squirrels scurrying about. There were also many animal prints in the dirt.
There were several types of fungi located along the path. The white "mushroom" was the largest that we had ever seen. The picture doesn't do it justice.
We visited the Nature Preserve in July and there were still several wildflowers in bloom.
Info on sign:
Ecosystem Management in Progress
State endangered species inhabit this area, DNAP staff members are conducting ecosystem management to foster their survivability.
Right Next Door
Arney Run Park butts against the parking lot of Christmas Rocks Nature Preserve. The park houses one of Fairfield County Ohio’s historic covered bridges, the Mink Hollow Covered Bridge.
Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve is a very nicely kept preserve. It is perfect for getting outside and getting in a good workout. It is peaceful and beautiful. However, walking back to the preserve along the private driveway is very strange. By the time you finally make it to the trailhead you feel like heading back to the car. And when you are done walking the preserve you have that .6 mile hike to get back to the parking lot.
What You Can Expect at Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve
Please note that trail rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve as of July 2020.
Bicycles are prohibited.
There were quite a few birds. Most were near the creek
Concealed carry is permitted.
Pets are prohibited.
Trail surfaces are natural. The trails are steep in places. We had a 404 ft. ascent and 422 ft. descent. This is a moderate to difficult trail.
Limestone parking lot. Approximately 8 parking spots.
One picnic table at Arney Run Park.
There is one bench at Arney Run Park.
A lot of shade.
No shelter house.
Trail are marked and easy to see.
There wasn't a trashcan.
Arney Run Creek runs next to the main path.
No ADA parking spots.