This weekend we picked our hiking destination based on weather.com. Cold temperatures and light snow were predicted for most of a three hour radius of Cincinnati, so we aimed for as far south as we dared go on a Friday night. We had avoided this park on previous trips because the reviews of the trails were not particularly positive. Much of what I had read was that the trails were nearly ruined by horses. But we figured muddy trails were better than snowy trails and got into the campground late Friday evening. There was the added bonus of crossing into the central time zone on the way.
Our first stop in the morning was the ranger station to get the obligatory passport stamp and seek opinions on the best trails in the area. The visitor center was chaotic with those purchasing cave tour tickets. The rangers were not particularly helpful in selecting a trail, but informed us that over 70 miles of trail were available. This was very appealing already. So many of the longer hikes in the midwest take us from road bed to backyard with little wilderness in between. We looked forward to actually getting away from it all. Looking at the map we devised a loop with the Sal Hallow and Buffalo Creek trails and headed for the Maple Springs trailhead.