In light of recent news events relating to escaped exotic animals, I thought it would be good to give Muskingum County some good PR.
It’s a pretty cool place, and it's too bad that reporters at The New York Times and CNN--who popped in for the sad story--missed out on the fact that Muskingum County (Zanesville, specifically) is the site of the Longaberger Homestead and the World’s Largest Basket; has a Y-shaped bridge that’s on the National Register of Historic Places; and is home to several state parks where outdoorspeople of all sorts (hunters, fishermen, hikers, campers…) have a number of options to hone their skills.
On a chilly-but-sunny Saturday recently, we bundled up our two-year-old in her winter jacket, packed a picnic lunch and the jogging stroller, and made our way to Dillon State Park for our first-ever geocaching expedition.
Dillon has two hiking trails, four multi-use trails, 15 miles of wooded bridle trails and 12 miles of mountain bike trails. We bookmarked six caches in the park with intentions of finding at least the majority of them.
By the time we struck out on the first two, though, we realized three was going to be our max. (In retrospect, it may have been better to spring for the $10 “official” geocaching app.)
Nonetheless, we climbed the hill to an abandoned picnic area where our last hope allegedly was hidden in the fork of a tree — and struck gold in the form of an ammo box containing a log and treasure I won’t name, lest I spoil the surprise.
We left feeling accomplished and vowing next time to borrow my dad’s Garmin.
Regardless of whether we’d found any caches, geocaching was a great way to experience Dillon.
The lake was beautiful and the fall foliage was still colorful; the trails were well-marked; and the park was well-kept and family friendly.
While we were there, a rugged-yet-friendly-looking bunch from Central Ohio Adventure Racing was competing in a duathlon, which made me want to try mountain biking sometime.
In warmer months, the Muskingum River Parkway State Park is a great venue for boaters, who can travel through any of its ten locks.
Plus, there’s camping in the summer, cottages in the winter, and always the nearby Zanesville for food (try Maria Adornetto Restaurant or Bill’s Real Pit BBQ); drink (recommended: Weasel Boy Brewing Company); and dessert (Tom’s Ice Cream Bowl).
There’s plenty of lodging, too, if you’d like to make a weekend of your adventures. If you’re a newbie geocacher, just heed my advice: Make sure you have a trusty GPS.