Malabar Farm State Park is the only working farm in the Ohio State Parks system. You can use the above website to learn about it's fascinating history.
To get there from I-71, use exit #169. Go East on Hanley Road for 2 miles. Turn right at the 4-way stop onto Little Washington. Follow the brown Malabar State Park signs for the next six miles to the park.
This is our first effort at hiding letterboxes. We hid three at Malabar. Two are fairly easy, although with a good bit of walking. The third is quite challenging, but worth the effort. You'll want to allow 1-2 hours to find all three boxes, plus time to explore the beautiful scenery.
There is an active schedule at Malabar. Be sure to check the calendar before trying to find these letterboxes. For example, the first two weekends of March are the Maple Syrup Festival. Don't even think about trying to find letterboxes during that time, although, we highly recommend the Maple Syrup Festival.
Be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes as there is considerable walking over uneven terrain. Depending on the time of year, bug spray might be a good idea. Finally, if you plan to search for letterbox # 3 YOU'LL NEED A FLASHLIGHT since this one is hidden inside a cave.
Letterbox # 1, Malabar Farm.Missing!(I had the opportunity to replace this one this one at the end of Sept., but a bike race was going on. Unfortunately, I can't get out there very often.)
Start by followng the signs to the Vistor Center parking lot. From the parking lot walk on the asphault path toward the "Big House." Continue around the silo, past the brick "Presidential Smokehouse", past the front of the house, and toward the pond.
At the far western edge of the pond is a gravel driveway. Halfway down the driveway, between the parking lot and the road, are the faint remains of an old stone sidewalk. Follow the sidewalk past the gardens and up the steps to the stone terrace.
Once on the stone terrace of the Malabar Farm Gardens, go to the extreme Northwestern corner. Walk WSW (240 degrees) up the hill for 45 (poppa sized) paces until you come to a tree with five trunks.
At the five-trunked tree walk SW for 30 paces toward the green building near the old amphitheater. On the side of the building is a door with two steps leading up to it. The box is hidden underneath the first step.
Once you've found the box, you can continue up the hill and around the treeline for a beatiful overview of the farm. Take some time to enjoy the view and check out the new visitor's center.
Letterbox # 2, Sugar Shack
From the Visitor Center parking lot return to the road and follow the signs toward the hostel and sustainable farming barn. There is a parking area on the left.
On foot, follow the signs toward the Pugh Cabin. You'll head down the road for a bit, across a stream, then turn off to the left on a long gravel road leading up the hill. It's almost a half mile from the lot to the Sugar Shack area. The signs say no parking at the top of the hill, although many people drive up there anyway. You'll have to make that call for yourself.
Once you reach the parking lot area at the top of the hill, the Sugar Shack is located to your left. It has a large silver tank suspended about ten feet above the ground. This is where they process the yummy maple syrup that is sold here.
Continue East past the Sugar Shack to the edge of the parking lot. You'll see a dirt road leading off East into the woods. You'll notice the teepee and some other displays used in the Maple Syrup Festival off to your right. After 65 paces down the dirt road you'll notice a downed hollow log on your left. This would seem like an ideal place to hide the letterbox, but nay nay. Turn around to your right and see the thick, hollowed, standing tree about five feet off the path. The letterbox is hidden inside this tree. You'll need to reach your hand into the bottom of the tree, and then back to the right.
Letterbox # 3, Bat Cave (Directions have changed slightly as of September 29, 2007.)
Okay, we've never actually seen bats in these caves, but it's possible. Just consider it poetic license. Return to the Sugar Shack parking lot. At the stone pillar sign that says "Pugh Cabin 1941" you'll notice a trail map sign to your left (as if you were continuing straight on the gravel road that led up to this parking lot.)
Study the trail map and look for the Butternut Trail. It's a 1 mile loop. We're only interested in the first quarter mile or so that leads to the cave area. Of course, you can continue the trail. It's beautiful.
Head up the dirt road for about fifty feet. You'll then see the Butternut Trail sign off to your right. Follow this trail, keeping the log cabins to your right. After about two minutes you'll come to a very large rock. Take some time to climb on it.
After the big rock, the trails winds off to the right and up the hill. Look off to the right about 200 feet and you'll see the begining of a natural ravine. This ravine will eventually lead you right to the mouth of our cave. (You don't actually have to hike the ravine, just stay on the path)
You'll come to a spot on the trail with three moss covered rocks that form a triangle. The first one is directly in the middle of the path, the other two must be passed between to continue on the path. STOP! This is where you turn off to the right toward the cave (remember to look for the ravine.)
Pass between two trees on a lesser trail leading down the hill toward the cave opening. There are many rocks and downed trees to climb over. These are moss covered and slippery. BE CAREFUL. Once you reach the entrance of the cave, walk inside. (Really, it's okay. Nothing to be afraid of.) Once inside, you will notice a large log on your light. Follow the log to a crevice just before a large pile of rocks. One rock is rectangular and appears to be standing verticallly. If you look up, you should also see the daylight in an "L" shape. If you follow one end of the "l" it also directs you to the long, rock. Look behind this rock. "Bat cave" is hidden just behind this rock. Be careful. There is also a small amount of water that runs through the cave, and the rocks are somewhat jagged. Be careful not to lose your footing.
Now, if you're really up for an adventure, climb over the big pile of rocks for some REAL spelunking. The cave takes a 90 degree turn to your left and continues another 75-100 feet to the top of the hill. Unless you are munchkin sized, you'll need to stoop and crawl to get through. The ground is wet and muddy. Eventually, you'll climb out a gradual, but rugged exit to the top of the hill. Just in case you've lost your bearings at this point, down the hill to your left is where you entered the cave, and up the hill to the right the Butternut Trail continues.
That's it. We hope you enjoy the sights at Malabar. It's one of our favorite places.
Photo Seeker and family