It’s that most wonderful time of the year.

It’s that time of year when we say, “see ya’ later old man!” to winter as the hills come alive with wildlife, wildflowers, festivals and fun times. It’s that time of year when we embrace the new and welcome the return of the familiar.

Here are some new and some familiar seasonal attractions to include in your trip to Athens County this season…

Chilling beneath Cherry Blossoms

The blooming of Ohio University’s cherry blossom trees are a welcome sight every spring, when the tiny pinkish flowers reassure us that winter is finally letting go, and the beginning of a new season has arrived.

Bring a blanket and lunch to share with a friend beneath the trees where specks of light filter through the blooms. Or spend an afternoon simply walking amongst them and besides them on the paved bikeway which runs adjacent to the trees. Visitors can park at metered spaces near Peden Stadium and the Convocation Center on campus (or for free on weekends).

For cherry blossom photographs, status updates, parking information and more visit: OHIO.EDU/CHERRY-BLOSSOMS.

MTB at Baileys

Find your flow at Baileys Trail System, Ohio’s premier mountain bike destination. The 58 miles of trail here are relatively smoother and wider than traditional Ohio singletrack. Experienced riders will appreciate the optional rock features throughout the trail system and the advanced trails on the eastern half. Riding here is thrilling and fast, but can also be taken slow and steady — making it fun for both beginners and experts.

Baileys Trail System is closed to bikes each winter until a TBA date (usually in April), so check for their official trail opening announcement before coming to ride. Baileys is located less than an 10-minute drive from Athens, Ohio. View the trail system map and find more information at: BAILEYSTRAILSYSTEM.ORG + BIKEATHENSOHIO.COM

Forest Floors Full of Flowers (say that 3 times fast)

Spring wildflowers at Strouds Run State Park are reason enough to pack up and hit the trails. 

Located outside of the city of Athens and within easy driving distance of Ohio University (about a 10-minute drive), Strouds Run State Park surrounds Dow Lake and draws a mix of trail and lake users. Miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding provide scenic views from rugged trails.

In the weeks of April and May the forest floor is an ever-changing world of discovery — multitudes of wildflowers, ferns, mushrooms, amphibians and reptiles will fascinate any lover of the outdoors. Conditions can sometimes be on the muddy side this time of year, so be sure to pack and wear the right kind of gear.

Some suggested trails where you can find wildflowers include: Beaver Pond, Finger Rock, Hickory, Indian Mound, Sundown, Thunderbunny and Blackhaw Trail (a paved accessible trail along Dow Lake).

Two Spring Flings: a Street Fair and a Film Fest

The International Street Fair, on Saturday, April 6, is always a highlight of the Ohio University International Week. Be sure to bear witness to the “Flag Parade” at 10:30 AM when dozens of international students carry their nation’s colors with pride down the brick streets in Uptown Athens. Walk amongst the gallery of flags on College Green, learn about other cultures from the various street vendors, eat some wonderful street fair fare, and dance to vibrant sounds from international-inspired musicians. 

From April 8-14, 2024, The Athens International Film + Video Festival (AIFVF) presents its 51st edition featuring over 215 films representing more than 50 countries in competition at the historic Athena Cinema in uptown Athens, OH. 14 feature length films and a variety of short films from across the globe will screen and compete in the annual festival with winners chosen by the independent jury, garnishing cash prizes and awards including Academy Qualifying status in select categories. This year’s festival features a world-class array of special events, film screenings, and after-parties.

Bluebells by Bike

Bike to the Athens Conservancy Bluebell Preserve along the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway, located at mile marker 12. The preserve showcases wild Virginia bluebells, blue-eyed Mary, and brilliant trilliums. The wildflowers peak around mid-April which may place you at the tail-end of the cherry blossom season. The preserve is perfectly situated for a bike ride, but can also be accessed from nearby parking.

While you’re at it, get some more miles in and enjoy the rest of the bikeway. It’s a pleasant pedal beside the Hocking River, railroads and lush green hills. For more information about the bikeway visit our bike-specific website: BIKEATHENSOHIO.COM.

Mushrooming at Burr Oak State Park

There’s something magical, primal perhaps, about finding food in the wild. And the hills of southeastern Ohio are home to some fabulous, flavorful finds. Wild mushroom risotto, anyone?

Chicken of the Woods, chanterelles and morels are just some of the wild edibles that you can forage in Ohio. Burr Oak State Park, located about a 30-minute drive north of Athens, Ohio, is one of the few Ohio state parks sanctioned for mushroom foraging. While they permit the hunting of mushrooms, special rules may apply, so contact the park office if you plan to visit. When collecting on state park land, collectors must remain on the trail. Off-trail collecting is prohibited.

Note about Ohio public lands: Visitors may hunt and collect mushrooms in Ohio’s state parks, state forests, and state wildlife areas. Gathering or collecting mushrooms in Ohio’s state nature preserves or natural areas is strictly prohibited.

WARNING: While many wild mushrooms are edible, a few are poisonous and can make you sick or even kill you. Don’t eat any mushroom, unless absolutely certain of its identification. Be sure you KNOW the identity of a mushroom, and that it is safe, before eating it. When in doubt, have any wild mushrooms checked by an expert before eating them. 

Waterfall Wonderland 

Located a 40-minute drive west of Athens, Ohio, the Hocking Hills State Park is a nationally and internationally acclaimed destination that you won’t want to skip. Here, you can hike beneath towering cliffs adorned with lush greenery, several waterfalls, and hemlock-shaded gorges. 

It is stunning in every season — with massive ice formations in winter, wildflowers adorning the forest floor in springtime and vivid foliage in the fall. Hikers and nature lovers will find plenty to appreciate in this awe-inspiring park. 

In springtime, waterfalls really steal the show. The abundance of seasonal rain means the falls are more impressive than ever. Rainy days are great days to experience the park. Not only are the waterfalls larger, but the park is typically less crowded, allowing you to appreciate the sights and sounds of water rushing through the gorges.

Plan your trip!

Make your spring visit to Athens County your own by perusing this website for places to enjoy food and drinks, places to stay overnight, and more things to do. Need to know more? Don’t hesitate to call our team at Visit Athens County for additional information or stop by the visitors center upon your arrival. We look forward to welcoming you. After all, Athens County is more than a place, it’s a place to belong.

Visit Athens County
667 East State Street
Athens, OH 45701

Author: athensohio