by LCVB staff member

Stebbins Gulch Winter Hike

Stebbins Gulch at the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, OH

Stebbins Gulch at the Holden Arboretum in Kirtland, OH

Thermal socks?  Check.  Deer skin gloves?  Check.

This past weekend, I was delighted to attend one of The Holden Arboretum’s famed Stebbins Gulch hikes.  Yes, it was only 26 degrees, but it was definitely worth it!

We started out meeting in the lobby of the Visitors Center right in Kirtland.  We were introduced to our guides for the hike and coordinated our rides since the trail is not normally open to the public and lot space is limited.  The drive was a short mile through beautiful rolling hills and snowy farms.

Upon arriving at the trail head, we bundled up, gathered our walking sticks (mine came from a nearby “Walking Stick Tree”), and started our trek.

The hike down to the gulch was steep and required some careful footwork, but we all made it down without incident.  Once we were in the actual gulch, the magic truly began.  The woods were quiet from the fresh snow, the only sounds coming from the crunching footsteps of your fellow hikers.  We examined fallen boulders, first growth forest, a variety of birch trees, and glacial remnants as we walked through the steep riverbed.  We learned that the gulch was being formed in the same way as Niagara Falls, and walked through billions of years of geologic history in our 2 mile hike.

We talked about the Berea sandstone, and even hit upon some controversial topics such as fracking.  We had great discussions and had the benefit of being surrounded by the very topic that you can normally only read about in papers and on ballot boxes!

Our guides were incredibly informative and there was plenty of time for taking pictures.  As we climbed back out of the gulch to finish our hike, we all agreed about the beauty and wonder of our past three hours.  We had become content in the natural seclusion – away from cell phones and noisy traffic.

It was the perfect way to spend a Saturday, even in the cold!  Check the Holden Arboretum’s website for more information on when their next guided tour through Stebbins Gulch is scheduled.  Tours occur year round, but must be registered for in advance.


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