Stories in Ohio

Ohio Natural Events in Summer

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.

Kayaking through the water lotus at Great Egret Marsh Preserve.
Great Egret Marsh Kayaking through the water lotus at Great Egret Marsh Preserve. © Eric Albrecht

In summer, Great Egret Marsh Preserve boasts beautiful blooms of water lotus that emerge from the marsh’s surface.  For a close-up look, drop your canoe or kayak into the marsh from the preserve’s launch area.

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 is the congregation of an abundance of great egrets. 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.

Our work along the coasts of Lake Erie include combating invasive species and restoring these important lands to healthy wetlands that will in turn help protect Lake Erie.

The view inside the Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center with wildlife taxidermy and displays.
Bissell Nature Center The view inside the Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center with wildlife taxidermy and displays. © David Ike

Bring the kids out to Morgan Swamp Preserve to keep them busy during summer break.  Be sure to check out the Dr. James K. Bissell Nature Center, which features exhibits for both adults and children depicting the natural history of Morgan Swamp Preserve and the Grand State Wild & Scenic River.

Hike the trails along the river, through the woods & prairie to see if you can spot beaver, otter and numerous bird species or put in your canoe to get a different perspective.

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.

Lark Sparrow sitting atop a rock in a prairie.
Lark Sparrow Lark Sparrow sitting atop a rock in a prairie. © FrankDLospalluto, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Part of the Lake Erie Birding Trail, Kitty Todd Preserve is a great place for expert and novice birders alike.  Lucky visitors may even spot the endangered lark sparrow, which makes its home at the preserve during this time of year.

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. 

A close-up look at the majestic bald eagle.
Bald Eagle A close-up look at the majestic bald eagle. © Ohio Department of Natural Resources

In summer, visit Herrick Fen Nature Preserve and walk around the boardwalk to observe the small but showy blue or purple flowers of the Kalm’s lobelia and see blueberry bushes growing shoulder-height along the boardwalk.  Get lucky and spot a bald eagle soaring overhead as it moves among the many rivers and wetlands of Portage County in search of food.

While visiting, look for the stand of 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. 

Northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is one of Ohio's few carnivorous plants  and is a rare plant, officially listed as threatened in Ohio.
Northern Pitcher Plant Northern pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea) is one of Ohio's few carnivorous plants and is a rare plant, officially listed as threatened in Ohio. © Emily Speelman

Visit Brown’s Lake Bog Preserve during summer to see what a floating sphagnum moss mat looks like. It’s also a great time to see a variety of flora, such as rose pogonia orchid, grass pink orchid and the carnivorous pitcher plant.

This 100-acre preserve holds the bog with its floating sphagnum moss mat, a 7-acre kettle hole lake and an outstanding example of a glacially formed hill known as a Kame.  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.

The preserve was declared a National Natural Landmark in 1968.  The easy 1 mile trail follows through prairie and woods so visitors can get the full experience of the property.

A platform at the Big Darby Creek Headwaters Preserve overlooks the creek restoration.
Big Darby Creek Headwaters A platform at the Big Darby Creek Headwaters Preserve overlooks the creek restoration. © Eric Albrecht

Summer is the perfect time to hike the full length of the Big Darby Headwaters Preserve trail and view the results of a stream restoration project completed in 2011.  More than 7,000 feet of stream were restored over the course of four years in order to recreate Big Darby Creek’s natural meandering flow.  As vegetation matures, the site is becoming more natural-looking. 

The winding 2.6 mile (round-trip) trail guides you through woods and prairie, past wetlands and streams, then to an observation deck to see the restored stream.

An abundance of wildlife is enjoying the preserve again.  Through the varied habitats, you'll see several bird species, milkweed and other blooming native prairie plants, butterflies, and all of the usual wildlife you would expect like squirrels, chipmunks, snakes and more. 

An Ohio native orchid, the small white lady's slipper (Cypripedium candidum) has a larger white lower lip (the slipper) and smaller yellow upper lip.
Small white lady's slipper An Ohio native orchid, the small white lady's slipper (Cypripedium candidum) has a larger white lower lip (the slipper) and smaller yellow upper lip. © Joshua Mayer, CC BY-SA 2.0

Hike Edge of Appalachia Preserve trails during the summer to explore the growing numbers of flowering forbs and grasses.  The bright green spring leaves and flowers have yielded to a dense and deeper green cover of foliage and flowering sedges.  Watch out for the eastern box turtle or black rat snake crossing the trail. Look for flowering native orchids like the cranefly orchid and lady slippers.  Hike late in the day and enjoy the sunset from Buzzardroost Rock and listen for the songs of whip-poor-will or Chuck-will's-widow.  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 in order to create a contiguous preserve of protected lands so that plant and animal species have a safe area to move and migrate through.