The Skunk Run Preserve is a 39.7-acre 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. It was purchased with two 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.
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. Take the second left after crossing 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.