Blackhand gorge is located in Heath, Ohio NW of Zanesville and East of Newark off of Toboso Rd SE. Coming in from the I-70 side I found that I had to travel a lot of windy roads to get there. When I left I went north to I-16 and it was a lot easier.
There’s several Trails to choose from when visiting the area and I choose to hike the Quarry Rim Trail and the Canal Lock Trail. Since this was my first visit I planned to explore some of the area and scout for locations to put my kayak in the Licking River in the near future.
Arriving in the parking lot I found that it was well taken care of with plenty of room for parking. Depending on what trail your hiking there are a couple other gravel/dirt parking lots located on the other side of the road and across the bridge.
Grabbing by backpack and camera I headed out for the Quarry Rim Trail head. All of the trail is paved at this point and well maintained heading west for approximately 4.26 miles it looks like a good cycling trail, I’m going to have to come back to follow it through.
Sadly, when I arrived at the trail head for the Rim Trail it was closed down. I did some investigating before I left and didn’t see any indications that it was closed at any point from any of the websites I had visited. I really wanted to check this section out too, saving this one for my return visit.
Heading back to the parking lot I saw a few areas that went off the main trail and led down to the Licking River. Following one down to the rivers edge I so had the urge to just jump in. I saw several people swimming and with the heat this day I know why.
Once I arrived back to the parking lot I hiked Toboso Rd. north just a short distance over the bridge to find the trail head for the Canal Trail and dipped into the woods.
After a short distance the trail split to the left and I could see a small wire railing with a plaque so I decided to explore. I love when I turn a corner or break through some vegetation to find something I have never seen. These are what I call the gifts along the way, places filled with history. I try to imagine what it was like for those that lived, worked and explored in these areas. Standing in the Locks where barges used to be pulled along was pretty cool.
Venturing further up the trail I came to the old electric train tunnel that was completed in 1903 and ran until 1929. This was part of the Interurban rail network that allowed residents of Zanesville to travel to Newark and Granville, then on to Columbus.
Hiking back down the trail I spied several people enjoying the solitude of the Licking River by kayak. Watching them paddle slowly downstream I knew this was an adventure I would start planning as soon as I got home.