Brukner to the Bog

A Spring Driving Tour Along Ohio Route 55 - and Back

Story & Photos by Matt Bayman

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This spring driving tour from Brukner Nature Center to Cedar Bog Nature Preserve – and back again – visits some of the most interesting, beautiful and secluded attractions in the region. It’s a chance to get out in the warm weather, stretch your legs after a long winter, and see some great stuff close to home. 
While driving the 97-mile loop, which mostly follows Ohio Route 55 and U.S. Route 36, several themes will keep popping up. There will be boardwalk hiking trails, spring wildflowers and flowering trees, morel mushrooms, colorful barn quilts, antique shops and country stores, historic markers and, just in time for the season, ma and pa greenhouses filled with vibrant flowers, tomato and pepper plants and other outdoor treasures. There are also several dozen one-of-a-kind restaurants to choose from, each located in a number of charming small towns and villages found along the way. 
There are six parks with hiking trails on the tour, and each is springing back to life as we speak. Most trails are fairly easy to hike, and two are completely wheelchair accessible. All have abundant wildflowers.
Two parks that you may not be familiar with on this tour are Davey Woods State Nature Preserve, located near St. Paris, and Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary, near Piqua. Davey Woods is in a very secluded preserve that features a peaceful, yet rugged 1.4-mile hiking trail. Although located close to home, Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary is one of the lesser-known parks in the Miami County Park District. Yet, it is quite possibly the best place to see spring wildflowers and to hear the spring songs of tree frogs.
Below in this column is a list of public events taking place at these parks and nature preserves this spring.

Other things you can see and experience on this trip include:

  • Big Shaggy Buffalo Ranch & Gift Shop

  • Cedar Bog’s brand-new boardwalk

  • Revolutionary War Cemetery in Staunton

  • A tree carving shaped like a morel mushroom

  • Many colorful barn quilts in Miami and Champaign counties, sometimes in convenient clusters

  • Marion A. Ross Historical Marker (executed hero of the Civil War)

  • Hydro Growers Greenhouse (their Spring Open House is May 3-5)

  • Downtown Urbana (antique shopping and lots of dining options) 

  • Metal sculptures at Hobart Urban Nature Preserve in Troy

  • Dine on alligator at Buffalo Jacks 

  • Locally made statues at the Christiansburg General Store 

  • Over 200 varieties of tomatoes and 45 kinds of peppers at Siegel's Country Store in Covington

  • Large patches of Marsh marigold 

  • The “Outhouse Springs Resort” barn sign on Ohio Route 55

  • Covington Baptist Brethren Church

  • An historical marker for the man who once pitched 12 perfect innings in baseball, only to lose in the 13th -Harvey Haddix

  • A round barn near a small waterfall

  • The Simon-Kenton Bike Path

And much more…

These are just some of the things you can see and don this trip, but there's plenty more that's not mentioned here. Each small town, city and village on the tour is filled with many new sights, sounds, and tastes.

Please drive safely, and have fun!

Spring Wildflower Hike and Garlic Mustard Pull at Davey Woods State Nature Preserve
April 21
This mature mixed mesophytic forest provides the foundation for the rich diversity of spring wildflowers at this site. The primary threat to this forest is non-native, invasive garlic mustard, which will be the target of this wildflower hike from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 21. Please meet in the parking lot at 7661 Lonesome Road, St. Paris 43072. For more information, call (937) 537-6173.

 

Wildflower Walk at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary
April 28

Enjoy a leisurely stroll along the boardwalk with a Miami County Park District naturalist looking for what is in bloom at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary at 11 a.m. Saturday, April 28.

 

Earth Day Fest at Cedar Bog
April 28

This free event (usually, there’s an admission) will feature free naturalist-led tours on the hour from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, April 28.
 

Adult Exploration Hike at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary

May 1

The Miami County Park District will host this adult nature hike at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary from 9-11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1.

Moth Night at Cedar Bog
May 11

This event, which is also free, will take place at dusk on Friday, May 11.

 

Discovery Night Hike at Garbry Big Woods Reserve
May 25
The Miami County Park District will host this free night hike at 9 p.m. Friday, May 25.

Guided Bird Walk at Cedar Bog

May 26

This guided bird walk will take place at 8 a.m. on Saturday, May 26 at Cedar Bog. The cost is $5 for adults and $4 for children. 
 

Orchid Walk at Cedar Bog
June 2-3
Cedar Bog will host two Orchid Walk events; at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 2 and 2 p.m. Sunday, June 3. The cost is $5 for adults and $4 for children.

Directions & Points of Interest

Total Miles = 97

Directions for this tour are listed below in black and travel counter-clockwise, starting from and finishing at Brukner Nature Center. Mileage for each leg of the trip is in red. Points of Interest are blue and are places that can be visited or viewed from the road during that particular leg of the trip. They are listed in the order they appear while driving the tour. The underlined Points of Interest are linked for more information. Besides a few attractions, almost all Points of Interest are located on the actual route, that is, on Ohio Route 55 and U.S. 36. The map above is a rough look at the complete route. Make sure to bring your own map and a cellphone. There is reception throughout the entire tour. 

Starting Point: Brukner Nature Center
5995 Horseshoe Bend Road, Troy


Points of Interest at Brukner Nature Center
- Swamp Boardwalk trail 
- Interpretive Center exhibits
- Bird viewing vista (very active right now) 

- Restored log cabin
- Wildlife Ambassadors visit  
- All the hiking trails are excellent, with lots of wildflowers


Brukner to Hydro Growers Greenhouse (4 miles)
Exit left from Brukner Nature Center onto Horseshoe Bend Road. Then, take your first left onto Greenlee Road until Ohio Route 718. At Ohio Route 718, turn left. Hydro Growers is located on your right at 455 Mowery Road/Rt. 718.

Points of Interest
- Hydro Growers Greenhouses open 9-5 M-Sa
- Spring Open House (10% discounts and homemade ice cream) on Thursday, May 3 - Saturday, May 5


to Hobart Urban Nature Preserve (5.4 miles)
Exit to your left from Hydro Growers and follow 718 into Troy. At Dorset Road, turn left and look for the nature preserve on your right.

Points of Interest
- Metal sculptures on 2 miles of hiking trails at Hobart Urban Nature Preserve


to Staunton Road Cemetery (3.2 miles)
Exit Hobart Urban Nature Preserve to the right and follow Dorset Road to St. Rt. 41/Main Street. Turn right and follow Main Street through town to the traffic circle in downtown Troy. There, follow the circle around to North Market Street/Rt. 55 where you’ll cross the Great Miami River. Follow signs to Ohio Route 55. To see the Revolutionary War-era cemetery, jog off of Ohio Route 55 by turning right on Ohio Route 202 and then your first left onto Old Staunton Road. The cemetery is on your right. NOTE: Parking is not very good.

Points of Interest
- Historic downtown Troy
- He5 Asian Bistro
- Staunton Country Store (pizza & subs)
- Revolutionary War Cemetery & Historical Marker

to Cedar Bog Nature Preserve (23.3 miles)
From the cemetery, continue east on Old Staunton Road until it dead-ends back into Route 55. Turn right and continue east on Route 55 for about 20 miles, passing many great stops along the way. After the small town of Terre Haute, turn right on Ohio Route 560, then take your first left on Dallas Road. Follow Dallas Road across the Mad River and then turn left on Woodburn Road. Cedar Bog Nature Preserve will be on your left.

Points of Interest
- Home of Thomas C. Harbaugh (poet and writer) sign in Casstown
- Holly’s Café & Carryout in Casstown
- Two barn quilts near Sodom Road and State Route 201
- Barn quilt at The Shepard Place 
- Marion A. Ross Historical Marker (at west entrance to Christiansburg on right side of the road)
- Christiansburg General Store (they have everything!) 
- Loretta’s Country Kitchen
- A Dollar General that really is in the middle of nowhere at Route 235
- Old RC Cola sign in Village of Thackery
- Stevens Bakery & Orchard, 7344 Thackery Road, Terra Haute
- Big Shaggy Buffalo Ranch in Terra Haute
- Terre Haute United Methodist Church
- Terre Haute Mall (pizza and deli)
- Cedar Bog Nature Preserve boardwalk trail ($5 for adults)
- Simon Kenton Trail & Bike Path

to Downtown Urbana (5.3 miles)
Exit Cedar Bog to the left. This will dead-end into U.S. 68. Turn left (north) until you reach historic downtown Urbana. Park anywhere.

Points of Interest
- Historic Downtown Urbana (shopping and dining)
- The vintage Gloria Cinema in Urbana
- Johnny Appleseed Museum
- Champaign Aviation Museum

to Davey Woods State Nature Preserve (9.5 miles)
From downtown Urbana, take U.S. 36 west to Zimmerman Road, where you’ll turn right. Next, turn left on Kite-Neal Road, then take the next right on Smith Road. Finally, turn right on Lonesome Road. Davey Woods is on your left, including a small dirt parking lot.

Points of Interest
- Depot Coffee House & train, plus Simon Kenton Bike Path
- Barn quilt and tractor shingles in Urbana
- Harvey Haddix Historical Marker (located at the red brick and green-roof Renewed Strength Church on the west side of Westville
- Studebaker’s Country Restaurant, Westville
- Davey Woods State Nature Preserve
- Barn quilts and neat homes on Zimmerman Road (across field and north from Davey Woods and Lonesome Road)

to Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary (22 miles)
Exit Davey Woods to your left on Lonesome Road. Turn left on Heck Hill Road, which dead-ends back into U.S. 36. Turn right on U.S. 36 and follow into Miami County. After Fletcher, look to turn left on Casstown-Sidney Road, then right on Statler Road. Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary will be on your left.

Points of Interest
- Braden’s Café and Sweets in St. Paris

Switzer's Antiques & Collectibles in St. Paris
- C&J Pizza Shed & Ice Cream in St. Paris (seasonal)
- Jim’s Pizza Chalet in St. Paris
- Lena “Birthplace of A.B. Graham – 4-H Founder” historic sign
- A.B. Graham Memorial Center & 4-H Historical Marker in Conover
- Caven’s Meats
- Poor Farmers Campground in Fletcher
- The Fletcher Cemetery (bell tower and log cabin gravestone)
- Fletcher Covered Bridge (off the main road)
- Morel mushroom carving on Casstown-Sidney Road (private home)
- Statler Road barn quilt
- Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary

Siegel’s Country Store in Covington (14.5 miles)
Exit Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary to your left, then turn left on Union-Shelby Road. Turn right on Peterson Road. At Interstate 75, Peterson Road jogs right onto Piqua-Troy Road over Interstate 75 and then back left onto Peterson Road. After crossing County Road 25-A, Peterson Road turns into Farrington Road. Follow Farrington for a while. Near Covington, turn right onto Mulberry Grove Rakestraw Road and then left on U.S. 36. Siegel’s Country Store will be on your right.

Points of Interest
- Barn quilt at Peterson & Springcreek-Stringtown Road
- Farrington Reserve (bike path and spring wildflowers galore)
- Farrington Reserve waterfall on right side of road
- Circular barn on Farrington Road
- Orange barn quilt on Farrington Road
- Covington Baptist Brethren Church
- Over 200 varieties of tomatoes & 45 different peppers at Siegel’s Country Store in Covington
 
Back to Brukner (10.2 miles)
Continue west on U.S. 36 into downtown Covington. Turn left on Ohio Route 48 to Horseshoe Bend Road. Turn left to return to Brukner. Or… extend your trip south through Ludlow Falls on Route 48. Then turn left on Route 55 west over the Stillwater River for a few more sights. Route 55 then returns to Troy and Interstate 75. We hope you enjoyed your tour of Brukner to the Bog!

Points of Interest
- Shopping and dining in downtown Covington
- Buffalo Jacks restaurant & buffalo statue
- FL Blankenship Riverside Sanctuary on Rt. 48
- Indian’s Pizza in Pleasant Hill
- Pleasant Hill Civil War statue in the middle of Rt. 48
- Ludlow Falls waterfall
- Huge glacial erratics at Route 55 and Route 48
- The “Outhouse Springs Resort” barn sign on Rt. 55 on your left   
- Old train trestle bridge on the Stillwater River on Route 55 on left side

Christiansburg is located right across the county line from Miami County and has some great hometown restaurants and shops to visit. 

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