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Special opening set for John Knouse Trail

John Knouse

ATHENS, Ohio — The Athens Conservancy will hold a celebration for the grand opening of the John Knouse Trail near Athens at 1 p.m. Saturday.

The new trail was built in honor of John Knouse, the founder of the Athens Conservancy.

Hosted by the Conservancy and Friends of Strouds Run, the public event will include a ribbon cutting, remembrances of Knouse, treats made from his recipes and self-guided tours of the new trail. The first 50 attendees will receive a colorful bandana.

“When we think of John, he is in the woods, blue bandana on his head and mattock in hand,” Conservancy board member Donna Goodman said. “A trail named in his honor is just a tiny measure of thanks for all he has done for the plants and fish and bugs and birds and all of the other critters who need the woods to survive, including us.”

The celebration will take place at the trailhead at the western end of the John Knouse Trail near the Horseman’s Area parking lot. The event concludes at 3:30 p.m., but the trail is open for visitors and hiking at anytime.

The Athens Conservancy will hold a grand opening of the new John Knouse Trail in Athens County at 1 p.m. Saturday. (Photo Provided)

The John Knouse Trail is marked with white blazes.

To access the western end of the trail and the parking from Athens, take Strouds Run Road into the state park and continue past the campgrounds and beach turnoffs. About a mile farther up a steep hill, there is a fork in the road. Turn right and follow Scatter Ridge Road 1.7 miles to the junction with Lake Hill Road, where there is a sign that says Horseman’s Area. Turn right and follow Lake Hill Road a half mile to a parking area on the right. From there, continue south on the road by foot another two tenths of a mile and look for a trailhead sign on the left. It’s about 500 feet beyond a vehicle-exclusion gate.

The trail also is accessible at its eastern end and can be found by walking the Liars Ridge Trail loop through Baker Preserve.

The 2-mile, mostly forested trail crosses Canaan Preserve and forms a critical new trail link. It connects separate trail systems of Strouds Run State Park and Baker Preserve and makes it possible to hike from Sells Park to Ohio 690 near Canaanville (9 miles by trail) without crossing a road. From the trail’s western end on Lake Hill Road, the scenic John Knouse Trail steadily descends, but not steeply, to a small stream, climbs past a scenic rock shelter to a ridge, crosses two grassy service roads, and continues on relatively level terrain to its eastern end on Liars Ridge Trail in Baker Preserve.

The trail is open for hikers and nature enthusiasts and is designed for pedestrian use only. The John Knouse Trail is an effort of Athens Conservancy and Buckeye Trail Association and is made possible with grants from the Ora E. Anderson Conservation Fund and Ohio Health, generous donations and the work of many volunteers.

Knouse, 67, died in 2021. As a founding member of Athens Conservancy, he envisioned a land trust to raise funds to establish nature preserves in the area and he encouraged others to join him.

He also is among the founding members of Friends of Strouds Run State Park. Self-trained in GIS, he prepared hundreds of detailed maps for both organizations.

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