The Skunk Run Preserve is a 73.5-acre (29.8-hectare) tract in the valley of Skunk Run, a perennial stream that flows from the Torch area (Athens County) westward to the Hocking River. The B&O Railroad formerly passed through much of its valley, and most of the railroad right-of-way is now part of the Athens-Belpre Rail-Trail. This preserve borders the north side of the rail grade on the east side of Ireland Road and also includes part of the gorge of Bingman Spring Run. It was purchased with three Clean Ohio grants and provides a possible detour for the Athens-Belpre Rail-Trail around a privately owned segment of the rail grade. A study of fish diversity by Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs indicated that Skunk Run meets Exceptional Warm Water Habitat criteria.
This preserve has been acquired in three sections: 27.7 acres in 2013, 12 acres in 2016, and 33.8 acres in 2017. All three tracts were purchased using grant moneys from the Clean Ohio Green Space Fund.
To visit this preserve, take US-50 east from Athens. After it joins with Ohio State Route 7, it goes over a hill, then downhill to cross the Hocking River. The river is 1.5 miles from the junction with OH-7. Take the second left after crossing the river, which is 0.7 mile from the river, which is Ireland Road (County Road 59). Take Ireland Road 3/4 mile to the bottom of the valley. You will see an elevated grassy area to the left, behind the Athens-Belpre Rail-Trail sign. Park there. Then cross Ireland Road and enter the preserve north of the old railroad grade. Do not trespass on the grade here; it is private property from Ireland Road to the next bridge abutment east of the road, which is visible from the road.