Shepherds Mountain, one of a few such Ohio summits to receive the moniker of mountain, rises in western Pike County. These knobs while not the highest in Ohio have some of the greatest local relief in the state and give the region a quaint appearance. The Appalachian outliers are covered by a heavy hardwood forest. In the summer one can see the July flowering of the sourwood tree, a large member of the Ericaceous family (Rhododendron, blueberry etc.). These can attain the height of 70 or so feet but not the 118 recorded in the Smokies, and having quite showy white blooms for so large a tree. The sandstone ridges leap up abruptly from the headwaters of Sunfish Creek while not so steep as the Red River Gorge or the Utah canyons none the less it can be steep as the ridges in places rising 600 feet in a half mile. Large beech and oaks including black, white, red, southern red, and chestnut. sugar maples, hickories, and tulip trees add to the forest diversity. In this part of the Appalachians, you will be out of cell phone service and the landscape will remind you more of Vermont than Ohio though it will have hollows-some inhabited such as are found in Kentucky. Turner Ridge is drained to the west by the Dry Bone Creek and to the east by Kincaid Creek. Both of these flow southeast to Sunfish Creek, joining it at Latham, Ohio. The total relief of the summit of Shepherds Mountain is 700 feet above Sunfish Creek. We noted the presence of some “Amish” families on the summit of Turner Ridge. The ranking given Shepherds Mountain is 23rd in Ohio according to “Americas Roof” and of these it is the highest designated as “mountain” The hollows can be forested with large hardwoods giving the slopes a park like appearance if undisturbed. After the forest is cut, the undergrowth can be quite a challenge for the hiker. Some of the sandstone can be broken up and the climber should be aware of an ankle twister especially if camouflaged with leaf litter. History:
A Shawnee, Waw-will-a-way, wrongly thought to have scalped a settler was beset by three settlers and shot in the chest. He gave a good account of himself however sending one attacker to the next world while severely wounding a second.
Waw-will-a-way is buried at the confluence of Paint and Rattlesnake creek. Remarkably, Paint Creek rising west of Columbus breaks eastward through the knobs in a wide valley to join the Scioto near Chillicothe. The knobs of this area appear on the Great Seal of Ohio. Nearby Paint Creek Valley contains Bainbridge with its dental museum. It was in this building back in 1828 that Dr. John M. Harris inaugurated the first dental school of Ohio in Bainbridge, Ohio, and helped to establish dentistry as a health profession. It opened on February 21, 1828, and today is a dental museum. In fact there was no dental school anywhere in the U.S. or in the world at this time. Visitors can see a variety of antique dental instruments and sets of false teeth. Dr. Harris also added chalk as an ingredient to toothpaste in the 1850’s.
Approach from Cincinnati: from the east side of beltway I-275 travel east 39 miles via U.S. 50 to Hillsboro, Ohio. Near the courthouse find Ohio 124 and follow it east/south to Kincaid Spring a further 24 miles from Hillsboro.
From Dayton go south on I-75 exit at Monroe and go east 8 miles on OH 63 to Lebanon, Oh. Take OH 123 east about 3 miles to OH 350 traveling east about 20 miles to OH 134 go southeast on OH 134 which becomes OH 124 to Hillsboro and then as above. The distance on 134 and 124 to Hillsboro is about 16 miles. Finish as as above.
From Columbus: Follow US 23 South along the Scioto River to Chillocothe and thence westward to Bainbridge about 60 miles from the Columbus beltway.
From Bainbridge( having visited the Dental Museum) travel southward into the hills on OH 41 about 14 miles to Oh 124 at Sinking Spring. From Singking Spring travel eastward 7 miles through Byington to Kincaid Spring/Fish Hatchery just west of Latham. This is a total of 21 miles from Bainbridge. You may shorten this to 12 miles from Bainbridge if you can find and use southbound Lapperell Road a few miles down OH 41 from Bainbridge-but this is a back road. Lapperell Road meets OH 124 at Kincaid Springs.
Red Tape and route commentary
Part of the Turner Ridge Road was marked private this fall, but the Amish famililies apparently still use this road with their buggies.
This is about the Middle of the Sinking Springs Section of the Buckeye Trail.
The Buckeye Trail tours Ohio by tracing the perimeter about 30 to 50 miles inside the state. This segment has its east end at Kincaid Spring on route 124. One finds a blue/grey flattened composite stick that is posted in the ground at elevation around 630 feet. Then look for the blue blazes. Having found these ascend Turner Ridge by walking northwestward. After a mile and a half of walking come out on the dirt road atop Turner Ridge coming into it from the south west side, so the road will be on your right. This is only traveled by these Amish Buggies though there might be hunters. Follow the road northwest ascending slightly as the road improves. Find next flatted stick showing trail on the left(west side of Turner Ridge Road and descend steeply to the valley of Dog Bone Creek. You emerge on Dry Bone Creek Road at Hopek Road which probably goes to the little farm that is in the hollow as shown in the pictures. Dry Bone Road returns southeast toward OH 124 near Kincaid Spring.
Camping may be had at nearby Rocky Fork State Park. The non-electric sites cost $16.00 per day. Rocky Fork Lake
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