Ohio

Great Egret Marsh Preserve


Great Egret Marsh Preserve consists of more than 150 acres of marsh and surrounding upland in Ottawa County across the road from East Harbor State Park.

The preserve’s marshes are part of the West Harbor Basin, a long, narrow pool of Lake Erie backwater that geologists believe was once the channel of the Portage River. As the last wave of glaciation receded and Lake Erie’s water level rose, the river naturally rerouted itself to empty into the lake at Port Clinton instead of nearby East Harbor State Park.

Created in 2013 with help from a Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant, the preserve contributes to the Conservancy’s goal to protect and restore an additional 10,000 acres of coastal habitat along Lake Erie.

Current Conservation Work
  • Portions of the Great Egret Marsh Preserve will be under construction beginning fall 2015 and lasting through summer 2016.  For the next stage of the preserve's restoration, The Nature Conservancy is planning improvements to the wetland units and their protective dike system. These improvements include the installation of two new water control structures within the wetland units and tree removal along the outside dike.  These projects will necessitate the temporary dewatering of the marsh units and closure of the wetland (loop) trail.  

The gravel trail from the parking area to the West Harbor overlook and the canoe/kayak launch to West Harbor will remain open.  For your own safety, please watch for moving equipment and adhere to all trail closures and postings.  

Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to restore critical habitat at Great Egret Marsh!  For more information please contact:  The Ohio Nature Conservancy, ohio@tnc.org and use "GEM Improvements" in your subject line.

  • In 2014 a trail and interpretive signage were installed at the preserve, which officially opened to the public in May 2014.
  • In 2013 the Conservancy was awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore some old farm fields back to wetlands and improve fish passage in the existing diked marsh. 
  • In 2013 planning began for a trail system and interpretive signage.

Some Trail Closures During Restoration

The Loop trail accessing the marshes will be closed until end of June for construction. Due to the heavy equipment and earthwork happening there, it’s be best for visitors to avoid the wetlands trails for their own safety. Visitors can still access the kayak launch and the Harbor Overlook.  When visiting the preserve, please watch for and adhere to all trail closures and postings.  We expect restoration work and construction to continue through 2016 so visit often to watch the progress unfold!

What You'll See

Great Egret Marsh Preserve, and the surrounding West Harbor Basin, is a haven for waterfowl and wading birds. One of the preserve’s defining features, great egrets congregate here in abundance. The large, white, wading birds native to this part of Lake Erie can often be found in large clusters in the area’s shallow waters.

About half of the preserve is covered in classic Lake Erie marshland, blanketed each summer with water lotus.

Things To Do

  • The preserve is open to the public for bird-watching, fishing, hiking, kayaking and canoeing.
  • An easy, 1.2 mile loop trail guides visitors through the marsh and surrounding upland.
 Download and View the Great Egret Marsh Preserve Trail Map and Guide

 

Directions
  • From Cleveland: Take State Route 2 West to State Route 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right.
  • From Columbus: Take State Route 23 North to State Route 4. Go North on State Route 4 to State Route 2. Go West on State Route 2 to State Route 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right.
  • From Cincinnati: Take Route 75 North to S.R. 12 (at Findlay), go North/Northeast on S.R. 12 to S.R. 53 (at Fremont), North on S.R. 53 to S.R. 2, go east on S.R. 2 to S.R. 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right
  • From Toledo: Take S.R. 2 East to S.R. 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right.
     

 

Discussion

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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