Bobcats on the Ridges are very timid, but they can’t hide their tracks after a snow.
Until changes in technology in farming and industry in the early twentieth century took away most incentives to cut forests, Athens County, like most of Eastern United States, was a deforested moonscape. However, since the 1930s, a process of spontaneous reforestation commenced. With it, most native wildlife which been gone for over a hundred years began to return. In the 1950s and 1960s people began to see deer. Soon other wonderful creatures – turkeys, coyotes, Canada Geese, etc. – came back.
The Ridges Cemeteries Nature Walk– originally created to fight stigma against persons with mental illness by highlighting the natural beauty of the old mental hospital cemeteries and surrounding landscape – shows the return of nature’s splendor to our wonderful Ridges. With a copy of our free Visitor’s Guides – available at both entrances – hikers can read about the decades-long process of reforestation and observe twenty numbered points of biological interest. Deer, turkey, and all sorts of birds are common.
If you are very lucky, you may even see one of the fairly numerous – but very shy – bobcats which reside there. If you don’t see them in the flesh, however, you will almost certainly see their tracks after a snow storm. They are hard to miss: One golf-ball size impression after the other in a straight line like the ones shown below:
Enjoy the Nature Walk – even in winter!