Just beyond the door of the visitor center, a steep stone staircase leads down into the cool verdure of Glen Helen. It’s a rare day on which there are not at least a few trail runners. I saw one whose jersey proclaimed, “Runs On Plants”. That neatly sums up the vibe of Yellow Springs in general, but even more so the people who frequent Glen Helen. I arose shortly after sunrise one summer morning and walked into the Glen thinking to find myself a nice spot for morning meditation. Following the creek, I came upon a small pool fed by a modest waterfall. There were a half dozen people perched around the edge already engaged in silent contemplation. I found a comfortable rock, took off my shoes, and joined this ad hoc community of kindred spirits.
Glen Helen is home to the yellow spring, although it is not so much yellow as orange. A quick sip of the water reveals that the coloration is due to a high concentration of iron oxide. The spring is the centerpiece of the main trail through the Glen. There are several points of interest along the main loop, as well as on the smaller trails connected to it. For me, the charm lies in the ease with which one can get “lost” in the Glen. Trails meander in every direction, some wide and well-traveled, others barely more than slightly worn traces on the woodland floor. While they do intersect, once past a juncture, there is only the path before you.
I don’t think that I could choose a favorite seasonal face of Glen Helen. It took me several tries before I as able to see it in peak fall color. The soft silence of a winter snowfall is amazing. The heady aroma of warm earth summer, wildflowers in spring, and an incredible variety of birdsong year round. At times, I forget all about the camera.