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Preserving Nature, History, and Community at Buzzards Roost
Earl H. Barnhart “Buzzard’s Roost” Nature Preserve, though recently drawing more outside traffic, has been a community favorite for many years. Located less than 15 minutes from Downtown Chillicothe, the trails and cliffs of Buzzards Roost show off the rugged, ever-changing terrain of Ross County and peeks over the rolling hills of Paint Creek Gorge. A true point of conservation, the park covers nearly 1200 acres of forest, as well as the remains and rubble of some of the area’s earliest settlers.
Home to what was once the Hoggard family homestead and the final resting site of several family members, the park holds a glimpse into the lives of those here long before us. The Hoggard family bought the land on Red Bird Lane in 1844, where they once farmed and raised livestock. When the pressures of the Great Depression hit, the surviving family abandoned their home on the hilltop, leaving the road to their home abandoned and overgrown for several years. Evidence of the family’s presence is visible as you near the cliff’s edge. Pieces of the cabin’s foundation peek above the dirt, but the most harrowing piece of evidence is the Hoggard family cemetery. Most of what remains are small, crumbling headstones whose information is lost to time and the elements. However, the tombstone of the family matriarch Margret Hoggard stands tall, immortalizing the Hoggard name.
The park itself is home to 6 marked trails, 3 of which connect and one specially dedicated for kids as a part of the Ohio Story Book Trails initiative. Hoggard Trail, which takes you past the cemetery and a natural bathtub. The Southpoint Lookout Trail, which also contains the Blueberry, Chilo, and Pond trails, stretches a 2-mile loop that takes you past several waterfalls, cliff edges, and rims, depositing you on the cliff edge of Buzzards Roost, named for the Turkey and Black Vultures that call the dangerous cliffs home. Looking out over Paint Creek and vastly over the foothills of Appalachia. The premises also house an A-frame house, visitors restrooms, and a fire pit with seating typically used for educational programs for the local youth.
Trail life is an integral part of life here in Ross County, whether you’re a biker, hiker, or just a nature lover the nature preserve has something for everyone. This sentiment drove the “I’m All In” campaign in 2019. Maintaining more than 22 miles of paved bike trails, and 4 separate park locations the Ross County Park District knew that its budget was not enough to achieve all of the incredible plans they had in store. Campaigning for a levy that would raise money directly for the Park District, in November of 2019 the levy passed after a failed attempt the year before. Additional money from the levy provides green space for hikers, trail runners, and field trips. Levy funds also allowed for village and community parks in Ross County to replace aging equipment and have access to a cash grant system through the increased budget.
Buzzards Roost Nature Preserve is just one of the many examples of Ross County’s unique blend of urban and rural life. You can find more information about Buzzard’s Roost and the other parks and initiatives of the Parks Department by visiting their website at https://rosscountyparkdistrict.com/. And you can find more information about Ross County’s unique blend of life here on our website, or on our social media platforms. You can search ‘GCRCD’ on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. If you know or own a business that you think we should highlight, tag them in a comment and let us know!