ONE OF the area's best kept secrets is located just outside of Flushing and is ready to welcome guest as they unwind and enjoy the beauty of "a slice of Heaven."
Zion Christian Retreat and Nature Center, snuggly nestled just off of Reservoir Hill Road, is a 27-acre lake surrounded by a 2.2 miles of walking trail. It also features a gazebo, boat dock, gazebo and four rustic cabins along with enough nature to keep anyone seeking a spot to "just get away" happy. The retreat also has a spacious pavilion with a professional sized kitchen and bathrooms complete with showers.
According to Jessica Haney, public relations officer for the retreat, Zion sprang to life seven years ago after a landowner graciously gave 300 acres of land which was used to establish the center.
THE?TRANQUILTY at Zion Retreat and Nature Center is enough to draw many folks for a time to unwind but there is much more available at this little hide away in the hills near Flushing.
Since that time, many hours of loving work has gone into making Zion what it is today.
"We have several organizations that use this place for a variety of reasons," Haney noted. "We have day camps, overnight camps, church youth group meetings, adult church gatherings, reunions and more going. We also have folks who enjoy the trail around the lake and others who just like to fish our lake. Many of the activities here are offered at little or no charge."
The trail is always open to the public and the pavilion can be rented at any time. Those wishing to fish may do so for $10 with children 12 and under able to enjoy the sport at no charge. Zion follows a catch and release program except for catfish and carp.
The pavilion is available fore rentals sto groups inclulding religious services, meetings, birthday parties, wedding and anniversary celebrations, baby showers, reunions and any other type of gathering.
"We have a scholarship program that we use for church-related groups," she added. "This assists us in keeping fees for those groups to a minimum.
"Our prices for renting the pavilion start at jus $100," Haney said. "That is for an eight-hour time period and we also have catering packages available."
Haney said the wildlife at the facility is abundant.
"We have wild turkey and deer that many people see everytime they visit us," she said. "This is a great place to see birds, butterflies and other creatures."
The four cabins on site serves as a perfect spot for hunters and fishermen and also provide an extremely picturesque view of the lake which is stocked with several species of fish.
"We have maps that we provide to hunters showing the private property lines as well as the local public hunting areas," Haney added.
Seasonal boat passes are offered and guided fishing trips may also be arranged.
Cabin rentals begin at $35 a night for up to two people while children four and under may stay free with their parents or guardians.
"That fee includes the showers, restrooms, use of gas grills and electric although no coffee makers or cooking is permitted in the cabins," she said. "If you pay for five consecutive nights, visitors can stay up to two additional days for no charge."
In fact, Haney said a woman from the Pittsburgh, Pa. area is currently taking advantage of the cabins as a way to "get away from it all."
"This lady is an artist and she just wanted to be able to enjoy the peace and quiet we offer here," she said. "She enjoys the trail, the lake and the wildlife here."
The gazebo provides a scenic overlook of the lake and the trails while a handi-cap accessible spot makes fishing a pleasure for those unable to traverse the rougher terrain.
Although the center has several bookings in the upcoming months, Haney said she is willing to work with any local groups or individuals.
"Just give me a call," she said. "We love to have others come here to enjoy what God has given us."
Call 740-968-0955 or 740-968-0912 with questions or to schedule your event. You may also visit their Web site at www.zionchristianretreatcenter.org for additional information.
Sedgmer may be reached at ksedgmer@timesleaderonline.