Malabar Farm State Park offers several short hiking trails that are perfect for families looking to get outside and explore nature in North East Ohio.
My family has spent quite a bit of time at Malabar Farm, hiking the trails, touring the Big House and viewing the animals but there is another treasure that draws us back time and again, the cave found on the Butter Nut Trail.
The easiest way to get to the Butter Nut Trail is to park in the working farm area, walk past the barns, the hostel and the duck pond. After you cross over the bridge you’ll see a sign pointing to several trails and Pugh Cabin.
Follow the sign and begin walking down the dirt road. I’m not sure how long the road is but I’m guessing about 1/4 of a mile or so. It’s pretty shaded and we were surprised to find mosquitoes attacking us so early in the season. Be sure that you apply the mosquito repellant before setting off.
The road ends at the Sugar Shack, which happens to be the focus of the annual Maple Syrup Festival.
On the right, you’ll see Pugh Cabin. If you’re a fan of The Shawshank Redemption, you may enjoy knowing that this is where the opening scene was filmed. This location is also part of The Shawshank Trail, a self-guided tour that leads you to each of the filming sites in the area.
Directly past the Pugh Cabin, you will see a trail sign which shows the trail routes. You’ll notice that the Butter Nut Trail is clearly marked with yellow blazes.
The popular loop trail is just under 1 mile in length. The trail is fairly easy, but can be rocky so you’ll want to wear sturdy shoes.
The trail leads you through mature Beech- Maple trees and rock outcroppings to a small cave. My kids always take time to climb on the large boulders so when I’m planning a hike I make sure to include plenty of time to horse around. Speaking of horses, though there are bridle trails at Malabar Farm, the Butter Nut Trail is for pedestrians only.
I’d recently purchased some headlamps at Walmart for my family so I was excited to see how well they worked in the cave.
The trail narrows as you approach the cave. As you begin to descend towards the opening of the cave, you’ll notice that the trail can be steep and rocky.
We felt a welcome blast of cool air as we neared the opening and smelled the faint musty smell of the cave. We hadn’t been in the cave for quite a few years and I’d forgotten that I’m not always as adventurous as I’d like to be. My husband didn’t waste any time exploring. While he was climbing and squeezing through tight openings, I was a bit leery and freaked out. I was positive he was going to fall and get hurt. And yes, I am a mom of boys’. And in case you’re wondering, I did allow them to climb trees and act like boys.
I’ve always imagined that it would be fun to go spelunking but I really believe the only way I’d survive is if I had a dose of Xanax before setting out.
Still, I’m supposed to set a good example for my teens so I sucked it up and stooped, crawled and climbed my way towards freedom…er….the cave exit.
I made it through the narrow passage when I noticed that my daughter and husband had stopped to investigate something shimmery along the cave wall. It was my daughter’s turn to freak out when she swears they saw the largest spider she has ever seen. She couldn’t exit the cave fast enough. I think my wimpy gene must have been passed on to her after all.
After emerging into daylight, she had to look herself over carefully just to make sure the spider didn’t try to hitch a ride out of the cave on her body.
The fear of spiders was short lived because within minutes my husband and daughter were imagining how fun it would be to go on a cool caving trip.
Tips for Exploring the Cave on the Butter Nut Trail
1. The cave isn’t very big and may only take a few minutes to walk through but it’s always safer to explore with a buddy.
2. The cave is damp and wet so it’s a good idea to wear older, but sturdy footwear and clothes that can get dirty.
3. Make sure you pack some water, you’ll want it to drink and to rinse your hands after you’ve finished climbing through the cave.
4. Don’t forget your bug spray.
5. You really need a flashlight if you plan to walk all the way through the cave. The headlamps we used were perfect, they illuminated the cave and kept our hands free.
6. The passage to exit the cave does narrow considerably so if you have a backpack on (like I did), you will need to remove it and carry it through.
Address: 4050 Bromfield Road Lucas, Ohio 44843
Cost: Entrance to the park is free but there is a fee to tour the home and to take a wagon tour.
For a detailed list of hours visit the website: http://www.malabarfarm.org
Don’t Miss 15 Things to do with the Family at Malabar Farm State Park for ideas to extend your visit.
Have you ever gone spelunking? Would you ever consider it?
This post is linked to Travel Tip Tuesday with Suitcases and Sippy Cups and Walkingon Travels.
© 2013, Tonya Prater. All rights reserved.