Far from the shadows cast by buildings of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum, the nearly 700 acres that make up The Ridges property of Ohio University reflect the kind of place the mental hospital really was. It was a haven for the troubled and confused in an age before people really understood the nature of mental illness. Today its natural beauty speaks for itself. While its fields are fallow, its dairy is now an art center and its orchards are untended, it still have much to offer any visitor willing to explore. There are four distinct hiking trails on The Ridges. The Ridges Trail, the Athens Trail, the River Valley Nature Walk and The Ridges Cemetery Nature Walk. Among these trails are also connecting paths that allow the visitor to vary both the length and the terrain of a hike by adding one or more of the other trails. Also, each trail offers unique experiences which should not be missed. Along The Ridges Trail near Water Tower Road is an overlook that gives a clear view of the Hocking River, Ohio University and Athens. At one end of this trail is Radar Hill where the visitor is rewarded with a panoramic vista of both the city and its surrounding hills.
The open fields along the Athens Trail allow the hiker to imagine easily how this rolling farmland looked when it was under cultivation. The River Valley Nature Trail has informative tree markers that identify
Thanks to the foresight of Ohio University we have the opportunity to enjoy the varied natural beauty of Southeast Ohio within the borders of Athens. But remember, we are all guests. Dogs are welcome on trails, leashes are required.