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Ohio State Parks

USA Parks
Central Ohio Region
Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve
Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve © Pamela Burns
Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve © Pamela Burns
2200 Gratiot Rd SE
Heath, Ohio   43056
(lat:40.0559 lon:-82.2181)
Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve is a 956-acre area that was dedicated as an interpretive nature preserve in 1975. This dedication process ensures that the area's scientific,educational and aesthetic values will be preserved indefinitely for use by all Ohioans.

The prime feature of the preserve is a narrow east-west gorge cut by the Licking River through the Black Hand sandstone formation. This cross-bedded, conglomeratic sandstone, well exposed in many places, creates a rugged topography. The dry hilltops are dominated by oak, hickory, Virginia pine and mountain laurel. Mixed hardwoods and a lush spring flora abound on the wooded slopes and ravines. The floodplain is predominantly sycamore,cottonwood box elder.
History of the Area
The name "Blackhand," for whichthe preserve is known, originated froma large, dark hand-shaped petroglyphthat was engraved on the face of thesandstone cliff. Many Indian legendswere passed on to early pioneers aboutthe origin of the "black hand." Possiblythe most prominent is the one that says itmarked the boundary of a sacred Indianterritory where no man was to raise hishand against another. The petroglyphwas destroyed in the 1820s during theconstruction of the Ohio-Erie Canaltowpath when canal builders blasted thecliff face.

Historically, the area around thegorge was very important to both themodern Indian and the prehistoricMound Builders. The rich deposits offlint found nearby at Flint Ridge madethe Licking River system a strategicallyimportant transportation route evenbefore the advance of white settlers.By 1929, the gorge had witnessed thepassing of the Ohio-Erie Canal, thesteam powered Central Ohio Railroadand the electric CN&2 interurbantrolley line.

Today the canal boats, trolleys andsteam locomotives are gone. A modernrailroad has been relocated to higherground, but the stark remains of old canallocks still dot the preserve.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
August 27 Bike Trail Needs Grooming by Richard S.
The west 1.76 miles of the bicycle trail are seriously in need of grooming. Weeds on both sides of the trail have not been cut back all summer. As a result, the trail is one lane only in several areas.
July 9 Beautiful Pristine Waters by MaryE
We kayaked the Gorge on the Fourth of July early in the morning. The cool waters are refreshing and tree cover provides shade to enjoy the day. This location gets crowded on weekends and holidays. We were the only ones in sight at 8:00am.
September 29 great day by cab6801
had a wonderful day was family outing everyone had a great time

Area Campgrounds
Wolfies Campground
101 Buckeye Drive
Zanesville, OH
Area Fishing Related Businesses
Redman Whitetail Preserve
6529 Fallsburg Rd NE
Newark, OH
(740) 345-4986
Licking Valley Coon Hunters
Newark, OH
(740) 323-1134
Big Springs Trout Fishing
5460 Fallsburg Rd NE
Newark, OH
(740) 349-7347
Sportsmans One Stop Inc
3587 Newark Rd
Zanesville, OH
(740) 452-6140
Sak's Cascade Market
599 E Main St
Newark, OH
(740) 345-2040
Area Accommodations (over 20 miles away)
Our Life Lodge - New Plymouth, OH
Cottages and Cabins
5 Bedroom, Newly Furnished, Hot Tub. Located on 330 private acres. Wayne National and Zaleski State Forest Both within one mile of property. Over 20 miles of established horse, atv, hiking trails on property.
47.3 miles from park*
Cottages and Cabins
Great for a private relaxing get away. Whether you are looking for rest and relaxation with that special someone, or the best cook-out for family and friends Haven Inn The Hills is the answer for you.
46.5 miles from park*

Located in Licking County 8 miles east of Newark on State Route 16, exit southeast on State Route 146 and proceed 1/4 mile to County Road 273. The preserve's entrance and parking lot are 1.5 miles south on County Road 273 just outside of Toboso.


Ohio State Parks