Tim DeVore working the ticket booth at the Fair at New Boston after a record setting attendance day in 2017.

Lifelong Enon resident Tim DeVore has served the community for 14 years as the President of the Enon Community Historical Society. He has handled many aspects of the organization but turned over the management of the annual Apple Butter Festival to his daughter Jessi a couple of years ago. That doesn’t mean that Tim won’t be out in the wee hours of Saturday and Sunday morning getting the fires going for the copper kettles that brew up so much apple goodness but he won’t have as many duties now that Jessi is in charge.

His mother Carol was a teacher with the Greenon Local Schools and his father Lew owned DeVore Radio Electronics near the Government Center on Main Street.

DeVore also serves on the Clark County Park District Board and that is where his passion for not only the community of Clark County but also his love of nature and history combine. We recently took a walk down to the bottom of the gorge located along Dayton Road east of old Mill which was the site of a former mobile home park.

The property fell into disrepair and had water issues. Eventually it became a part of the Clark County Land Bank before becoming part of the park district. The upper portion where the homes were located has required a great deal of time and effort by crews and volunteers to clean up the items that were dumped on the site during the time that it was abandoned.

The magic begins as you descend the rocky path that leads you to the area where the cliffs meet mother nature and the path transforms into a kind of environmental wonderland.

The natural area is filled with opportunities for rock climbing, hiking and simply taking a backpack filled with lunch and sitting on a large rock to enjoy the peaceful sound of the Mad River or the birds as they sing in the canopy of the trees.

DeVore explained that local volunteer Kevin Mau is in the process of building a beautiful natural staircase with rock from the gorge area. He is being assisted by students from the University of Dayton climbing team. They help by carrying the heavy flat rocks to the site and assist Mau in their placement. Today only a short run of stairs have been completed at the bottom of the path with a great viewing platform where you can stop and enjoy the view before heading to the trail.

The goal for Mau is to construct a stairway that allows for everyone to be able to easily walk to the path at the bottom. For now the first part of the path down to the observation platform is rocky and requires sturdy shoes and is not quite ready for young children or pets. You would also want to be sure to check the weather report as the moss and rocks could be a little slippery when wet.

While the upper portion of the park is owned by the district, the lower area where the adventure truly happens is part of the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund. The park district can only do the project to improve the trail and prepare the cliff areas, but the land can never be sold.

As small trees and branches are being cleared from the former CCC & St Louis Railroad bed, the materials are shredded and returned to become part of a pathway improvement. Honeysuckle has been removed from many areas, but the work continues with volunteers when the weather permits.

There are places that access to the river is possible by skipping over the rocks and there are areas where you can sit and enjoy a book or just meditate while nature fills in the background noise.

Across the river the Ohio Masonic Home offers more cliff areas. DeVore explained that they are in the process of acquiring additional acres of land on the north side of the river and recreational climbing will also be possible there. Eventually a walking bridge will be built to connect the north and south recreational areas. A number of staging areas for first responders are also being planned should an incident occur while people are enjoying the park.

Our photographer Andy Grimm had the luck of visiting the gorge area with DeVore earlier in the spring and took some wonderful photos of the natural runoff from the area above creating waterfalls.

As the weather improves, the number of individuals who will be volunteering in the park area and those who will travel from around the country to participate in a rock climbing experience will increase. The park will be a premier site for climbers and eventually the trail will be paved for recreational use.

When I contacted Tim to be our Meet Your Neighbor feature community member months ago, I had no idea our interview would take place in such a wonderful setting on a rare warm day in early spring that not only was one of the most relaxing interviews I have ever conducted but also one that would help me regain the confidence to pursue one of my favorite things, a walk in nature surrounded by peace and joy in a place that time has forgotten.

DeVore is very modest about his work with the parks, but he would want you to know that the largest natural rock-climbing area in the region is open and ready to bring you a day of joy. Now you won’t get the executive tour, but if you let your heart lead the way, you too will discover all that the natural setting has to offer.

This is a “Leave No Trace Hot Spot” so be sure that you bring your own trash bag and take everything back home with you. Mad River Gorge and nature Preserve is open to the public during daylight hours. Parking is available on the flat land above the natural gorge area.

There will be an “Adopt-A-Crag” work day on April 28 from 11 – 4 and May 26. This is a chance to come out to the gorge and help the Ohio Climbers Coalition to improve the natural beauty of the park. If you would like to volunteer, contact them at www.ohioclimberscoalition.org/volunteer. Or just show up and work as long as you wish. There is also a Spring Wildflower Hike planned for Friday, May 4 at 1:00 pm.

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