Photo from highlandsanctuary.org.
The Arc of Appalachia recently previewed the Cave Canyon Nature Preserve, formerly known as 7 Caves, near Bainbridge, OH. The nature preserve features hiking trails that criss-cross the 100-foot deep vertical canyon and lead park visitors past entrances to many of the caves. Unfortunately visitors are no longer allowed to enter the caves as the lighting systems have been removed to restore cave ecosystems to their natural states.
Some folks are disappointed to see the caves closed to tourists but from what I read this needed to be done. For one, all the stalagtites and stalagmites in the caves were been broken by vandals over the years and Arc administrators hope to preserve the caves so new cave formations can grow. Second, the lighting system installed in the caves back in the 1920s kept indigenous bats from returning to the caves, a key part of this area’s natural ecosystem. Bat experts say many local bat species are endangered in this area but the good news is that four of the caves in the preserve have already seen their previous tenants return after closing the caves to tourists.
Cave Canyon Nature Preserve will be open to the public from April through October each year and admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children. Although access to the caves is now limited to bats you can still check out the cliff deck overlooking the Rocky Fork Gorge and take a self guided tour of the 3 nature trails.