Stories in Ohio

Ohio Natural Events in Spring

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.

Spotted salamander crawling along the moss
Spotted Salamander Spotted salamander crawling along the moss © Peter Paplanus, CC BY 2.0

In spring, Morgan Swamp Preserve explodes with emerging wildlife like spotted salamanders and wood frogs, and spring wildflowers like yellow trout lilies and spring beauties.  Look for skunk cabbage in seeps and listen for spring peepers among the many vernal pools.  With about 3 miles of trails to explore along the river and through the hemlock forest, you'll be sure to ease your spring fever.

At 2,000 acres, this preserve holds one of the largest privately protected forested wetlands in Ohio. We're working to protect these wetlands so that the Grand continues to live up to the title of 'State Wild and Scenic River'.  We're also working with partners across the state to look for ways to protect Ohio's Hemlock stands from the invasive Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

A black and white warbler has interesting striped and mottled patterns on its feathers to help it blend in.
Black and White Warbler A black and white warbler has interesting striped and mottled patterns on its feathers to help it blend in. © Angie Cole

Great Egret Marsh Preserve comes alive with migratory bird activity this time of year.  Birders will love trying to spot any one of a number of warblers that utilize the preserve, including the American Redstart, Blackburnian, Magnolia, and Black-and-white Warblers.  Expect to find a large number of waterfowl species like great egrets, which congregate here in abundance.  Also, look to see if osprey are using our new nesting tower.

Enjoy the 1.2 mile loop trail around the preserve or take your kayak out from the put-in to get a closer look at water fowl.

Our work along the coasts of Lake Erie include combating invasive species and restoring these important lands into healthy wetlands and coastal habitats.  These restoration projects will in turn help protect Lake Erie.

Lupine Kitty Todd Preserve.
Lupine Kitty Todd Preserve Lupine Kitty Todd Preserve. © Randall L. Schieber

In spring, visit Kitty Todd Preserve to watch for flowering plant species like wild lupine, which hosts larvae of the endangered Karner blue butterfly.  Plan to take at least one guided hike this season to get a better understanding of the ecology of Kitty Todd.  These are scheduled every first Saturday of the month from May through October. 

The 1,000-acre Kitty Todd Preserve is a centerpiece of the Oak Openings Region and is a model of land management practices for the region. Enjoy the 3 mile loop trail to see several different habitat types within one preserve. 

Residential and industrial development in the area has resulted in habitat loss and fragmentation.  The Conservancy has been working to combat these threats through land acquisition, landowner education for oak openings habitat management, and restoration efforts. 


(Myrica pensylvanica) A deciduous shrub, this is a great winter food source for birds.
Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) A deciduous shrub, this is a great winter food source for birds. © Geneva Wirth/CC BY NC 2.0

Visit Herrick Fen Preserve in spring as the site’s foliage begins to show off.  The preserve provides habitat for more than 20 state-listed plants including yellow sedge, crinkled hairgrass, water avens, bunchflower, autumn willow and green cotton-grass.  It is one of only three sites where you can observe the bayberry plant growing naturally in Ohio. 

While visiting, look for the emerging leaves of the tamarack trees, the only native deciduous conifer species in Ohio.  You also might see signs of beaver, muskrat and several bird species that enjoy the wetlands.  The 1.5 mile round-trip trail will take you through different habitats with picturesque views.

The Nature Conservancy continues to protect this habitat from invasive non-native plant species such as buckthorn and reed canary grass. 


Ferns unfurl along the boardwalk at Brown's Lake Bog in the spring.
Brown's Lake Bog Preserve Ferns unfurl along the boardwalk at Brown's Lake Bog in the spring. © Emily Speelman

Spring is an exciting time to visit Brown’s Lake Bog, which is beginning to show off its enviable botanical inventory this time of year.  The naturally acidic properties of sphagnum, coupled with its ability to insulate the water below from rapid air temperature changes, provided the right environment for the creation of the bog and its relic boreal plant communities.  More than twenty rare plants are found here.

Ferns pop up and begin to unfurl their fiddleheads all along the boardwalk making it seem like an enchanted forest.  This 100-acre preserve has a 0.5 mile round-trip boardwalk trail and a 0.5 mile loop trail through the woods.

The Nature Conservancy is working to maintain the existing open bog mat and expand the open mat to include currently shrubbed over areas around the bog lake. 

Skunk cabbage emerging in late winter.
Skunk Cabbage Skunk cabbage emerging in late winter. © CammyBean, CC BY-NC 2.0

Explore the boardwalk at Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve and watch for marsh flora reawakening.  The health of the waters downstream, in Big Darby Creek, is dependent upon what happens in these swamps and marshes.  Marsh marigold and skunk cabbage are among the first plants you might see. 

While hiking the easy 2.6 mile round-trip trail, listen for spring peepers and other frogs in the wetlands as well as bird species as the preserve chatters with life.

Our work at this preserve includes the restoration of a straight, fast flowing ditch back to the softly curving, slow-flowing headwaters stream that it was meant to be.  This has brought back several rare aquatic species as well as more riparian plant species.

Native spring ephemeral bloodroot  blooming in spring.
Bloodroot Native spring ephemeral bloodroot blooming in spring. © Angie Cole

In spring, outliers of dolomite stone at the Edge of Appalachia are clearly visible and offer views of flowering columbine, walking fern and bishop’s cap.  Now is the perfect time to enjoy birdwatching.  Keep your eyes open for species like the cerulean warbler, rose breasted grosbeak or blackburnian warbler as they migrate back to the preserve from warmer, more southern locales.  The forest floor is beginning to offer some color from the spring ephemerals as species like twin leaf, bloodroot, and hepatica begin to flower.  Plan on staying the day; visitors can enjoy over 10 miles of trails!

Our work on this preserve includes invasive species removal, sustainable forestry, habitat restoration and land protection.  One of our projects, called the Sunshine Corridor Project, aims to connect this preserve with the Shawnee State Forest. This connection will create a contiguous preserve of protected lands so that plant and animal species have a safe area to move and migrate through.