The George Rogers Clark Park Hikers have been meeting since 1997 and goes 52 weeks of the year.
Back when it was first started, it was very informal and was more of just a tour around the grounds. Alvah “Bud” Jividen lived in the Hertzler House as you first enter the park for 16 years and worked as a ranger there for 12 years. He had been coming to the park to hike and fish since the late 60’s and was asked to move in and take over as head ranger in 1995. He was the one that started the Clark Park Hikers because some community member who really did not know the park asked him to show them around. He began giving them tours once a week and they began bringing their friend and then their friends brought friends. It grew bigger every week and the park officials loved the ideas of starting a hiking group. They made it a program for the park shortly after that. Jividen is still the leader of the group.
The group meets every Thursday morning at the back of the park near Hosterman Lake in the parking lot by the dam. Anyone can attend and should meet them there at 9 a.m. There can be more then 20 people some weeks and as little as four the next week because a lot of it is determined by the weather.
The group walks at a slower pace so Jividen can explain the forest around them including trees, plants, and sometimes wildlife. At the end of each hour of walking, the groups has usually walked two or more miles. There are multiple trails and the guides pick paths that will show the most diversity for the time of year it is. For example, in the springs the group hikes through some of the more open areas in order to see the wildflowers that grow there. No matter what trail they decided to hike, they try to make it by the waterfall in the park because it is a group favorite.
Some weeks, the group has a naturalist join them on the hike and they can explain some of the natural things all around them.
There are plenty of restrooms and shelter houses around the park long with tons of parking. This makes it the perfect park for the hikers because there are places to use the restroom beside the woods and shaded spots to rest for a moment if anyone needs it.
Each trail in the park has a name and are clearly marks with wooden trail signs that were made my one of the members of the Park Hikers group; Eugene Zigenthaler. He is most commonly known by the other members of the Park Hikers or his friends as Ziggy and he leads the group often.
“There is a group of regulars that knows when Ziggy is leading the group, it will be an uphill hike,” Jividen said, “When we take a break, you can usually hear at least one of our regulars saying “What’s Ziggy doing? Looking for another hill?” It is funny every time.”
There are 12 trails scattered all throughout the park. Some of the trails have easy names like Tecumseh, Buffalo Run, Fair Way, and Logan’s Run, while there are more difficult trail names such as Puckeshinwa, Maluntha, and Kispoko. There is even one named after Zigenthaler called Ziggy’s Trail. The trails vary in length from .03 mile to .6 mile. These trails connect throughout the park and can be combined to make a longer hike. There are many hills in the park but only one has a name, Lapointers Hill.
Because this group meets year-round, the snow in the winter can be a big factor. If the snow covers the road they meet at the parking lot at the entrance of the park and they usually do not hike if the temperature is around zero degrees.
After the hike every Thursday, Jividen and Zigenthaler as well as four other men stay to do trail maintenance. They have two who come from Troy and Covington and are 87 years old, but still loves to help and do a lot of tree work. After spending a few hours working on the trails, the group heads to Carriage Inn Restaurant in Enon.