The Miami County Parks are a local treasure. Besides being so well maintained, they offer a wide variety of educational programs and activities for the entire family. My favorite park is the Charleston Falls Preserve.
This gem of a park is located between Tipp City and Huber Heights. It covers 216 acres and offers almost 4 miles of hiking and jogging trails. The main reason to visit this particular park, though, is the waterfall. At 37 feet in height, it can be called a “Miniature Niagara” due to the rock strata of the same nature as the real Niagara Falls. These falls are fed from underground springs several miles away, but they are most spectacular after heavy rainfall. During periods of intense cold in the winter, the falls will actually freeze, and it’s worth the chilly walk to see this amazing sight.
The trek to the falls is an easy gravel pathway from the parking lot, less than half a mile. There are two vantage points for seeing the falls. The upper view allows visitors to see the top of the falls as the water tumbles over the cliff. Informational signage is posted as well as warning signs for safety. The lower vantage point is from a staircase which leads visitors down to the observation boardwalk. Visitors can see the falls as they splash down into the pool at the bottom. A bit of spray can sometimes be felt depending on the amount of water and the wind.
From the lower observation boardwalk, it’s a short walk to the limestone cave. This is a popular spot with kids as they love to climb inside. The opening isn’t huge, so crawling is required (parents beware!). A flashlight or headlamp is handy since it becomes dark quickly. If the weather has been rainy, cave crawlers can expect standing water on the bottom.
From the cave, continue to follow the trail, which rises to the junctions of the Redbud Valley and the Thorny Badlands. Either trail takes visitors to the outer reaches of the park. The trails loop through the woods, sometimes winding alongside the stream, the same one created by the waterfall which eventually empties into the Great Miami River. The lookout tower can be accessed from the Thorny Badlands trail, and it allows travelers to climb a bit higher for a birds’ eye view.
Visitors can also inspect the Cedar Pond, where glimpses of fish, snakes, or frogs may be seen. The pond is one section of the park not covered by trees, so sunny days are even more pleasant there. No fishing or swimming is allowed, just careful observation.
Charleston Falls Preserve also has picnic tables and full service restrooms adjacent to the parking lot. As with all the Miami County Parks, the preserve is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset. Helpful signs at the park entrance alert visitors to the official closing times each day. Other handy signs are also posted throughout the park to remind visitors about safety and to also give directions.
Plan a visit to Charleston Falls or any of the Miami County Parks by visiting http://www.miamicountyparks.com/.
See more Charleston Falls pictures at www.travelingteacheronline.com.