Menchhofer Preserve

86 Acres of Exceptional and Unique Geologic Features

The Menchhofer preserve consists of an 86-acre parcel along Queer Creek west of Ash Cave in the southern part of Hocking County that was purchased by AOA in 2023. The preserve is named for past owner, AOA co-founder, and former AOA board member Larry Menchhofer.  The property is adjacent to a 60-acre conservation easement that was donated by Larry Menchhofer and Vera Nixon nearly 20 years ago.


Exceptional and Unique Geology. The number and size of Blackhand sandstone features and geologic formations in the preserve is exceptional and unusual. They include a substantial gorge, a deep ravine, a large rock overhang, several sandstone bluffs that are up to 100 feet high, and large caves and rock shelters.  The location is thought to have been occupied by humans for thousands of years.


 There are numerous waterfalls in the preserve. Some of the falls have formed deep bowl-shaped depressions in soft sandstone around the plunge zone.  A stunning double fall in harder rock is in the main gorge.


Threatened & Rare Species. The sandstone features throughout the gorge area are home to numerous threatened and rare species of plants.  A one-day, botanical and aquatic survey arranged by AOA found three exceptionally rare lichens in Ohio, as well as one endangered plant species, a threatened species, and three plant species identified as noteworthy.


The exceptionally rare lichens  Scerococcum parasiticum and Lecanora perplexa, have never been previously identified in Ohio. Scerococcum parasiticum has a NatureServe global rank of G2 (Imperiled) G4 (Apparently Secure). Another lichen, Halecania sp., was also identified in the preserve and this is only the third population of this lichen species known globally!



Old Growth Forests. Much of the Preserve is covered by older growth hardwood forests with large stands of hemlock and many other native species that are becoming increasingly threatened or rare.  The previous owner reports that the forested areas have not been cut since 1919.


Nixon Branch. The preserve protects an estimated 5,300 linear feet of a Class 3B primary headwater, coldwater habitat stream known as Nixon Branch and its watershed.    The stream has a natural channel that has not been altered and is thought to be a coldwater habitat stream based on extensive water quality assessments performed in the vicinity.


The preserve is close to the Ash Cave unit of Hocking Hills State Park and provides a buffer for the park and adjacent Hocking State Forest lands.