Places We Protect

Great Egret Marsh Preserve


View of wetlands covered in various plant species with its shore lined by trees.
Great Egret Marsh Preserve Looking across the wetlands. © Kent Mason

This preserve consists of more than 150 acres of marsh and surrounding upland.



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 TNC’s goal to protect and restore an additional 10,000 acres of coastal habitat along Lake Erie.




The preserve and trail are open year-round, daily from dawn to dusk.


Activities include: kayaking, fishing, hiking, bird-and other wildlife-watching. A great place to watch migratory birds in the spring and waterfowl, like great egrets, year-round.


150 acres

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Photos from Great Egret Marsh Preserve

Whether hiking or kayaking, hundreds of marshland species can be spotted across the preserve's 150 acres from the ground or the water.

Great Egret Marsh Preserve signage.
An adult paddle-boarding on water with trees in the backdrop.
A breakwall of rocks lining Lake Erie.
A fenced-in area of preserve trail includes an interpretive sign. This area is the end of the trail and overlooks the marsh.
A green heron standing on a tree branch.
A white Great Egret sitting in a tree.
A sunset over a grass-lined body of water.
A person kayaking through water lotus.
A red/orange-hued sunrise between trees.
Blooming flowers on water with lily pads behind it.


  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Our vision is of a world where people and nature thrive together. The Nature Conservancy encourages people of all ages, races, ethnicities, religions, gender expressions, and abilities to visit our preserves and has a zero-tolerance policy for racism and discrimination.

    The following activities are NOT permitted at Great Egret Marsh:

    • Biking and mountain biking
    • Camping
    • Driving an ATV or off-road vehicle
    • Cooking or campfires
    • Horseback riding
    • Hunting
    • Picking flowers, berries, nuts or mushrooms
    • Removing any part of the natural landscape
    • Snowmobiling

    Great Egret Marsh is pet-friendly. Leashed pets (leash no longer than 6 feet) are welcome on the trail.

    For information about the use of other power-driven mobility devices (OPDMDs) at our open preserves, please visit our OPDMD guidelines.

The Sound of the Great Egret

The calls of great egrets, the preserve's namesake, are commonly heard throughout the preserve.

Download Audio

A great egret's call.

Current Conservation Work

  • In 2018 an osprey tower was installed, a pipe draining ephemeral wetland habitat was removed and additional signage was installed.
  • In 2017 a portion of the perimeter dikes at Great Egret Marsh were rebuilt to improve the resiliency of the wetland’s water management infrastructure to protect wetland habitat.
  • In 2016 two new water control structures were installed, allowing improved water management capabilities as well as improved fish passage.
  • In 2015 the upland portions of Great Egret Marsh were planted with 15,000 native trees.
  • In 2014 a trail and interpretive signage were installed at the preserve, which officially opened to the public in May 2014.
  • In 2013 TNC was awarded a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore the 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.
  • Ongoing work includes managing for invasive species. Portions of Great Egret Marsh are managed using herbicides in an effort to remove invasive Phragmites, reed canary grass, and Canada thistle. These non-native species provide little to no benefit to our native wildlife.

Find More Places We Protect

The Nature Conservancy owns nearly 1,500 preserves covering more than 2.5 million acres across all 50 states. These lands protect wildlife and natural systems, serve as living laboratories for innovative science and connect people to the natural world.

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