Stories in Ohio

Ohio Natural Events in Autumn

Ohio offers an abundance of amazing natural areas that you can visit year-round. What you'll see at each preserve changes with the seasons.

A white swan with a black beak swims in calm water.
Tundra Swan Large flocks of tundra swan migrate through Ohio in the fall. © Corine Bliek, CC

In autumn, visitors to Morgan Swamp Preserve can expect to watch the landscape transform into beautiful warm colors of red, yellow and orange.  Try to catch a glimpse of beavers busily preparing their winter food cache and listen for tundra swans as they begin their fall migration.

A pale yellow-brown bird with black and white striped wings sits on a branch with dried leaves.
Blackpoll Warbler These warblers stopover in Ohio for food and rest before heading on their way to South America where they spend the winter. © DaveInman, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Fall is a great time to see warblers at Great Egret Marsh Preserve, which is a prime stopover site during fall migration.  Lucky birdwatchers may even spot a blackpoll warbler, which gorge on insects and berries at the preserve before heading southeast to fly nonstop over the Atlantic Ocean to Venezuela for the winter.

A light brown field of grass, divided in the center by a stripe of low flames and black ground as 4 people watch the fire.
Prescribed Fire at Kitty Todd Trained staff perform a prescribed burn during fall to help aid the health of prairie and forest habitats. © TNC

In fall, look around Kitty Todd Preserve for evidence of prescribed fire, a land management tool used to thin out invasive brush, restore soils, and create the type of open spaces historically found here, in the Oak Openings Region, so that a wider scope of native species may thrive.

Red oval-shaped leaves sit atop thin branches in a field of golden brown grasses with a blue sky as a backdrop.
Poison Sumac Poison sumac with deep red fall color can be seen at several Ohio preserves. © Terry Seidel/TNC

In autumn, easily spot (but don’t touch!) the poison sumac trees by their vivid red leaves and white berries hanging in clusters. Feast your eyes on the groves of tamarack, the only native conifer in Ohio that sheds its needles; J. Arthur Herrick Fen Preserve is one of few places to see the tree.

Lush knee-high foliage of golds, browns and muted reds line a wooden boardwalk.
Brown's Lake Bog Lush foliage lines the boardwalk. © Emily Speelman

During autumn at Brown’s Lake Bog Preserve, visitors experience the color of familiar favorites such as maples and oaks, and also that of natural wonders that are less common. The carpet of ferns that line the boardwalk trail have, by autumn, turned a rusty brown and contrast nicely with the crimson of native viburnums and dogwoods.

A deer stands looking at the camera while camouflaged by brown stems and branches.
White-tailed Deer Camouflaged in fall colors © Denis Fournier, CC by 2.0

With crisp mornings and sunny afternoon skies, fall is a great time to enjoy the beauty of Big Darby Headwaters Preserve before the winter sets in.  As you walk the trail, see if you can pick up on what birds, squirrels and deer are doing to ready themselves for winter.  Deer courtship activities usually begin in mid-October; look for the flash of the white tail of a buck bounding across a field of goldenrod in pursuit of a doe.

Overlooking forested hills of yellow, brown, orange, and muted red foliage that lead into a valley field with a barn.
Buzzardroost Rock Edge of Appalachia Preserve System © Eric Albrecht

In autumn, the eastern deciduous woods of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve System transition from deep green to a variety of reds, yellows and oranges.  Be sure to experience the view of the Brush Creek valley from points along the Buzzardroost Rock Trail.  Now is the time to visit the prairies as the forbs and grasses are at or near peak flower.  Expect a variety of asters in flower and the stiff gentian that will hold their blooms into winter.   Listen for the common meadow katydid and other singing insects that inhabit the prairies and woodlands.  Plan on staying the day: Visitors can enjoy 10 miles of trails!