Sunday, January 5, 2014

Witches and Bong Hill

Now that winter (and finals) has come, I've been looking through some previous photos from fall to get more posts. This post is about two of the well-known hills in the city of Athens, in Athens County, Ohio.

I've previously made a post on probably the most famous hill in Athens, called Radar Hill, including a post on some of the things I found at The Ridges and Radar Hill. This post will be a quick overview of Bong Hill and Witches Hill.

Bong Hill Athens
Okay, I know, horrible MS Paint skills. Here's a rough map to where they're located. The left portion is Ohio University. The Red Line is Witches Hill, and the Green Line is Bong Hill. There's a small pull off by the Bong Hill trailhead on Rock Riffle Road, and the trail is pretty easy to find. Witches Hill's trailhead on the other hand isn't so easy to find at first; I wandered around for about 5 minutes trying to find it. It is actually not on Rock Riffle Road, but on the off ramp. It is really close to the stop sign at the intersection of the off ramp and Rock Riffle though. Look closely at the hill and you'll see a very, very steep trail to Witches.

Bong Hill Athens
First up, Bong Hill. Why is it called Bong Hill? Well, I've heard a few stories. The obvious story is that it got its name from the stoners that supposedly hang out on it. I've also heard that story is a myth and it's actually named after an old Ohio University professor. Whatever the reason, this hill offers a great overlook of the city of Athens. The trail is not easy; it is steep and very rocky in places. The trail ascends around 200 feet in less than a quarter of a mile (actually about .19 miles or so). Some minor rock scrambling is involved in certain parts along the trail, like having to pull yourself up onto a rock too large to just step onto. Nothing too bad, but bring water!

Bong Hill Athens
After you make the climb, the trail opens up to a small clearing. The opening overlooks the city of Athens. It's an amazing view.

Witches Hill Athens
Now to Witches Hill. Sorry for the overexposed photo. Anyway, this is part of the trail that leads up to Witches Hill. The trail for Witches Hill ascends around 250 feet in about .18-.2 miles. The trail itself is longer, but it's mostly flat once you get up there. The ascent is very steep and can be a bit dangerous depending on conditions, so be careful.

Witches Hill Athens
Witches Hill is known in the area as a really good bouldering location. I know nothing about bouldering, but I met two climbers who had come from Ohio State University (nearly a 1.5 to 2 hour drive away) in order to do some climbing after they heard how good of a location it is. You can actually see them farther down the trail in this photo. The top of the ridge is covered in massive rock faces, boulders, and more. If you expect to hike this trail, be ready to have to climb some rocks as the trail sometimes jumps up a rock face or down one. It's nothing too crazy though.

Witches Hill Athens
Here's a photo to give you an idea of how large the boulders are, with yours truly as a size reference. (Fun Fact: Getting this photo terrified me. I had to set my camera on a self timer and crawl out on a log in time for the photo, all while being about 15 to 20 feet above the ground.) Obviously, please use common sense on this hill and don't do anything stupid.

Witches Hill Athens
At the end of the trail is a nice, and decently large, rock shelter. Apparently this place is used occasionally as a party location; there were broken beer bottles everywhere. There is also a fire pit that has years of ash built up. It must have been used recently because it was still hot the day I visited.

Ohio University Hiking
What about the view from Witches Hill? It's one of my favorites. This is looking toward uptown Athens, but shows some of campus. You can also look out the other direction and see more of Ohio University. It's a great view, and well worth the hike.

That's it for this post. Sorry I've sort of disappeared for a few weeks on here and my twitter. I've recently been really busy. Hopefully I'll be more active in the coming weeks and months! Happy New Year to you all as well!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Kyle! These are gonna be some useful pointers for me.