The end of the summer was quickly approaching and two of my three kids would soon be heading off for college. We needed a short getaway, and being an adventurous family, we wanted to experience something new. A visit to Athens fit the bill.
Athens County sits in Southeastern Ohio, next to Hocking County, which gets much attention for its geological features. Athens County has plenty of its own natural beauty, and that was what we planned to explore.
Day 1 – Strouds Run State Park
Our first stop was Strouds Run State Park. The centerpiece of this 2606-acre park is a placid lake surrounded by forest-covered hills that create nooks and coves that beckon to be explored.
The boathouse offers a selection of canoes, kayaks, stand-up paddleboards, pedal boats and pontoon boats. My older daughter decided to try a stand-up paddleboard while the rest of us opted for kayaks.
We explored several of the coves at a leisurely pace, while a gentle breeze provided relief from the heat. We maneuvered our kayaks to get a closer view of wildflowers growing along the shore, paddled past swimmers at the beach, and basked in the sunshine and scenery.
After a lunch break, we set off on a hike along one of several trails at Strouds Run. We talked and laughed as the trail wound through the woods and then joined another trail near the lake. We were treated to views of the lake, wildflowers and butterflies as we returned to our starting point.
Day 2 – Bouldering
My kids are fairly proficient at climbing up rock walls, so we thought it was time to take the difficulty level up a notch. Alex Hileman, a Graduate Assistant in the Outdoor Pursuits department of Ohio University, met us in the lobby of our hotel. Alex provided the gear and we followed him to the COAD Boulders.
After gearing up and receiving some safety instructions from Alex, it was time to give bouldering a try. My son, the fittest of our bunch, went first. He made it part of the way up the rock and couldn’t go any further. Nor could my husband or two daughters. I knew that I had no chance of succeeding, but I tried anyway.
Alex directed us to an easier section and said that it should probably be categorized as “scrambling,” rather than bouldering. All of us were able to climb at least partially up the rock, and some of victoriously made it to the top.
We tried several other spots including one nicknamed Fire in the Hole. We each made several attempts to climb it. No one made it to the top, but we had a ton of fun trying!
One of the best parts about outdoor recreation in Athens is that after you work up an appetite, you’ll have lots of great restaurants to choose from. Our visit to Athens was short, but memorable—just what we needed!
Disclosure: The Athens County Visitors Bureau coordinated our trip and provided complimentary lodging and activities. We paid for transportation and meals ourselves.