COLUMBUS, Ohio – As the temperatures outside start to slowly warm up, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is offering several free events for everyone in the family to enjoy in March. From naturalist programs to hikes to Easter egg hunts, there are lots of great opportunities to spend time outdoors in Ohio.

Maple Syrup Festival at Indian Lake State Park – Join us for the Maple Syrup Festival at Indian Lake State Park in Logan County on Saturday, March 17, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and on Sunday, March 18, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Free wagon rides will be available to visit the Sugar Shack for demonstrations on turning sap into maple syrup. Wagon rides will be from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday. For a small fee ($5 for adults and $3 for kids), visitors can enjoy a pancake breakfast with sausage and beverages from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday. There will be pints, quarts and gallons of syrup for sale. For more information, call 937-843-2717.

Vernal Equinox Hike at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve – Join us in celebrating the celestial arrival of spring by taking a hike at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve on Saturday, March 17, at 1 p.m. We will observe what changes are taking place in our environment and discuss the astronomical significance of the equinox. For more information, call 330-527-5118 or email adam.wohlever@dnr.state.oh.us.

Nature Night at Maumee Bay State Park – Ever wonder what animals roamed the wilds of Ohio? Or lurked in the Great Black Swamp? Swing by the lodge at Maumee Bay State Park to find out each Saturday in March at 4:30 p.m., and see some skins, skulls and snakes!

Spring Hike at Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve – Celebrate the arrival of spring with a 1.2-mile hike through Johnson Woods State Nature Preserve on Saturday, March 24. Meet in the preserve parking lot, located at 13240 Fox Lake Road in Marshallville at 10 a.m. For more information, call 330-527-5118.

Marsh Madness Hike at Maumee Bay State Park – Spring is here–or is it? Join us for a guided hike around the boardwalk on Saturday, March 24, from 10-11 a.m. We will look for signs of spring and convince ourselves that warmer weather is around the corner! We’ll also be celebrating World Frog Day and focus on the amphibians who call our marsh home. Let’s spring into spring and have a hopping good time. For more information, call 419-836-7758.

Hike to Buckeye Cave at Burr Oak State Park – Join the naturalist at Burr Oak State Park for a 2-mile hike to the sandstone rock recess known as “Buckeye Cave” at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24. We will enjoy the beauty and geology of the area. The group size is limited in this sensitive area so advance registration is required by calling 740-767-2981 or emailing julie.gee@dnr.state.oh.us.

Woodcock Watch at Lake Hope State Park – Join the naturalist at Lake Hope State Park on Saturday, March 24, and Friday, March 30, at 7:30 p.m. for a chance to hear and view the aerial courtship flight of the American woodcock. Meet at the Hope School House. Waterproof shoes are highly recommended. For more information, contact the nature center at 740-596-3030.

Spring Clean-Up at Shawnee State Park – Looking for a great service project? Volunteers are needed! Show your appreciation for the big woods by volunteering to clean up waterways, trails, roadsides and more during this weeklong clean-up at Shawnee State Park from March 26-31. People should register their group at the park office by calling 740-858-6652. Bags, buckets and litter tongs will be available for pick up at the park during orientation and sign in.

‘Who Lays Eggs?’ at Burr Oak State Park – Join the naturalist at Burr Oak State Park on Friday, March 30, from 3:30-4:30 p.m. for an informal discussion and display about animals that lay eggs. This will be held in the lodge lobby. For more information, call 740-767-3570.

Waterfall Hike at Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve – Enjoy an off-trail trek through Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve with the preserve manager on Saturday, March 31, at 10 a.m. On this hike, people will have a rare opportunity to observe a beautiful waterfall located in Lake Katharine. Meet at 1703 Lake Katharine Road, Jackson, 45640. This hike will be limited to 30 people, call 740-286-2487 to reserve a spot on this hike.

‘Spring Into Fitness’ Trail Run at Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve – Put on your running shoes or boots as we experience the Eagle Creek State Nature Preserve in a totally unique and healthy way on Saturday, March 31, at 9 a.m. People participating should dress according to the weather. The goal of this event is to combine fitness with the serenity of nature. The trails at Eagle Creek are mostly bare soil and will afford a moderate challenge when run. Total distance will be approximately 3 miles. Refreshments will be available after the run. For more information, call 330-527-5118 or email adam.wohlever@dnr.state.oh.us.

Easter Egg Hunt at Lake Hope State Park – Stop by the nature center on Saturday, March 31, at 1 p.m. at Lake Hope State Park for a fun-filled afternoon of Easter egg hunting on the grounds surrounding the nature center. Kids will find candy-filled eggs, as well as tokens to win a prize at the prize table. Contact the nature center for more information at 740-596-3030.

Easter Egg Hunt at Caesar Creek State Park – Bring your family to the nature center at Caesar Creek State Park on Saturday, March 31, at 1 p.m. for a unique Easter egg experience. Find hidden eggs with prizes. Afterward, learn how to identify native birds, eggs and nests. For more information, call 513-897-3055.

Signs of Spring at Burr Oak State Park – We will celebrate the arrival of spring at Burr Oak State Park on Saturday, March 31, with a 3-mile hike along a woodland trail to discover the signs of the season. Wear hiking boots, and meet at the nature center at 2 p.m. For more information, call 740-767-3570.

Blue Moon Night Hike at Portage Lakes State Park – Come join the naturalist at Portage Lakes State Park on Saturday, March 31, at 8 p.m. as she leads the hikers along the trails by moonlight. We will be listening for owls and keeping an eye open for our nocturnal friends. People should bring a flashlight and a sense of adventure. Meet at the large parking lot on the right after entering the park. For more information, call 330-644-2220.

Full Blue Moon Hike at Lake Hope State Park – The second full moon of the moon renders it a blue moon! Enjoy a 2-mile hike at Lake Hope State Park on Saturday, March 31, at 8 p.m. along the closed Lake Ridge Road to the group camp area for a high vantage point to watch the moon. Bring a flashlight, and dress in layers. Meet at the Hope Furnace to caravan to the starting point. For more information, call the nature center at 740-596-3030.
To learn more about family-friendly events at Ohio’s state parks and state nature preserves, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/calendar or naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/calendar.

Getting outdoors is an ideal way to relieve stress and boost mood levels. The Explore Ohio initiative is aimed at encouraging people to exercise outdoors and become healthier in the process. Participants can log their miles, share their photos and create friends groups on the Explore Ohio website at ExploreOh.com. Whether people are running, hiking, biking, climbing, walking or paddling, Ohioans can keep track of their progress at ExploreOh.com and share their adventures on social media using #ExploreOhio. After reaching 100 combined miles of activity on the site, each registered user will receive an email with a certificate good for 15 percent off camping at any Ohio State Park.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.