A lake and wetlands with bright blue summer sky.
Lucia S. Nash Preserve Snow Lake © Josh Knights

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Lucia S. Nash Preserve Now Open to Explore

Breathtaking glacial lake and surrounding 648-acre preserve features boardwalk, overlook and trail.

A new 2-mile trail, boardwalk and viewing platform in Geauga County just southeast of Punderson State Park are now available for the public's enjoyment. Its opening comes at a time when many of us are turning to nature for exploration and respite.

The trail, located on a 272-acre addition to the Lucia S. Nash Preserve, is punctuated by Snow Lake, a scenic 32-acre kettle lake at the heart of the property that was formed when glaciers receded 15,000 years ago. The newly-opened Snow Lake trail is the only public access point within the larger Lucia S. Nash preserve that has been owned by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) since 1994 – and a portion of which is also designated as a national natural landmark. If you're looking for a place to visit that offers a step back in time to what Ohio's lands and waters looked like a century or more ago, Snow Lake is it.

"Northeast Ohio has a number of glacial lakes, but many of those have been severely degraded by changes in surrounding land uses. Snow Lake is a rare exception. It retains remarkable water quality, which means an astonishing diversity of plants and animals for people to see right here in northeast Ohio," says Terry Seidel, director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio.

"If you're looking to find serenity in nature, it doesn't get better than Snow Lake," Terry adds. “The preserve is adjacent to 18,000-acres of conservation lands known as the Cuyahoga Wetlands. So when you're hiking or watching wildlife, you feel a thousand miles away from the rest of the world."

Habitats at Snow Lake include marshes, meadows and swamps that provide a haven for freshwater fish and a vast array of native plants, as well as migratory and nesting ducks, geese, trumpeter swans and wading birds, beavers, otters, mink and foxes. Forests in the surrounding low hills feature wetlands that appear and disappear seasonally, providing a place for salamanders, frogs and others to hatch.

Conservationists consider Snow Lake an environmental treasure for reasons that extend beyond its benefits for wildlife. The picturesque location represents a vital part of TNC's comprehensive water quality strategy in Ohio. While conservation efforts often focus on the restoration of degraded lands and waters, TNC also works to identify and protect existing high quality areas in strategic locations throughout the state – including places like Snow Lake, which feeds into the headwaters of the Cuyahoga River watershed.

"While we are thrilled to welcome people to Snow Lake, visitors might not realize just how precious this place is," says Seidel. "It is part of a vast natural filtration system that helps purify the drinking water for more than 300,000 residents in Akron and surrounding communities. The marshes and forests also hold water during heavy rains, protecting communities downstream."

In recognition of that, the property was purchased with help from Ohio EPA's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program in cooperation with the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). Public access via the 2-mile Barbara A. Lipscomb Trail, boardwalk and viewing platform is due to the generosity of foundations, corporate partners, volunteers and individuals. “We are especially indebted to some of the project’s earliest and generous supporters committed to helping us open this special place to the public: the Cleveland Foundation, the Jean T. Lambert Foundation, the Lipscomb family, Moen, and The Kelvin & Eleanor Smith Foundation,” Terry adds. “Without them, this project would not have been possible.”

Snow Lake is open daily, April through November, from dawn to dusk for hiking, birding and wildlife watching. Visit nature.org/lucianashpreserve for directions and preserve highlights.

Lucia S. Nash Preserve Virtual Naturalist Hike Explore the Barbara A. Lipscomb Snow Lake Trail at the Lucia S. Nash Preserve in Northeast Ohio. TNC Ohio Director of Land Protection, Terry Seidel, walks with you along the trail, discussing the history of the property and pointing out the beauty and natural features of the preserve.

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world's toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 79 countries and territories, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.