Quintessential Kenyon: Student Life, Uncut

Off Middle Path: Where to Explore Beyond the Tour

Morgan Harden
June 22, 2017

As a recent graduate, I’ve discovered many of Kenyon’s nooks and crannies. Everybody has their favorite spots, removed from the everyday shuffle of student life. When you take a tour at Kenyon, you’ll get to see a lot of these priceless locations, from the stained glass windows in Peirce Hall to bustling Middle Path, but your tour guide won’t have time to show you all of Kenyon’s hidden gems. With four years exploring the Hill under my belt, I’ve made a list of some of my favorite spots. If you want to see Kenyon beyond the tour, here are some places I’d suggest you start:

  • Gund Gallery — Any campus tour will begin close to the Gund Gallery. Unfortunately, the tour doesn’t leave any time for looking at the building’s primary feature: a contemporary art gallery and museum. With constantly-changing exhibitions and family-friendly programs, the Gund Gallery is great for art lovers and academics alike. Check the hours before visiting here

  • The Kenyon Athletic Center (KAC) — You’ll get a distant view of the KAC from your tour, but you should take a moment to look at it more closely. Opened in 2006, the KAC features an indoor track, Olympic-sized pool, basketball/volleyball arena, fitness center, weight room, squash courts, racquetball courts, multipurpose rooms for dance, yoga and aerobics, as well as study spaces and a theater. Needless to say, the KAC has something for everyone, even non-athletes. It even inspires me to work out.

  • Kokosing Gap Trail (pictured above) — If you head down past the KAC, you’ll run into the Gap Trail. The Kokosing Gap Trail is a paved, 14-mile recreational trail built atop a former Pennsylvania Railroad line. A historic steam train stationed behind the KAC preserves the trail’s history. Bonus: if you ride/run into Mount Vernon and continue a little past the trail’s end, you’ll end up at Whit’s, a seasonal frozen custard place and Ohio icon. (Bikes and helmets can be rented at the Kenyon Bookstore.)

  • The Upside-Down Tree — Though it is a favorite spot among Kenyon students, it’s easy to miss the Upside-Down Tree. Located between Ransom Hall and the Church of the Holy Spirit, the tree is a popular spot for students to sit, read, eat lunch, film a web series or sometimes string up a hammock. Students enjoy moving through the Weeping Beech’s limbs and climbing on its larger branches. Give it a try, if you’re feeling adventurous!

  • The Brown Family Environmental Center (BFEC) — The BFEC is a 480-acre preserve located in the Kokosing River valley, just down the hill from Kenyon’s campus. With events for every season, nature trails, fishing spots, river access and programs for all ages, the BFEC is a great place to reconnect to nature and learn about our local environment.

  • The Kenyon Farm — Only a mile or so off campus (on Zion Road), the Kenyon Farm provides the perfect escape for students interested in sustainable living. The farm is a 10+ acre mixed crop-livestock operation, run by students. Besides providing sustainable food, some of which appears in our dining hall, the Farm is also a place for students who want a pastoral escape. Feel free to stop by and meet our student-farmers. They’d be happy to show you around!

  • The Wright Center — The Wright Center is Kenyon’s newest gem, opened in 2017. Located in the refurbished Buckeye Building in downtown Mount Vernon, the Wright Center houses a state-of-the-art film center, the Kenyon Office for Community Partnerships, and SPI, a science-play initiative for kids. A new place for community engagement, the Wright Center has been a great success since its opening. It’s well worth a visit, if you find yourself in Mount Vernon.

This is just a short list to get you started! At first glance, Kenyon and the surrounding community may seem small. However, the more you explore, the more hidden wonders you’ll discover. These are the little gems that’ll make you wonder why you never noticed them before and make it even harder to leave. (Trust me, I would know).