Ohio offers an abundance of amazing natural areas that you can visit year-round. And what better way to have fun with your family and friends than to get out in nature and discover all the cool things waiting there for you.
Morgan Swamp Preserve
Morgan Swamp Preserve is a magical place in the winter. Watch for great blue herons along the banks of the Grand River as they find pockets of open, shallow water to search for fish and crayfish. Enjoy the evergreen of the hemlock forests, which provides a beautiful, stark contrast to the snowy ground underfoot.
Great Egret Marsh Preserve
In winter, get out to Great Egret Marsh Preserve and hike the easy 1.2-mile trail in search of tracks from species that utilize the marsh in the winter. Watch for non-migrating birds who stick it out through the chilly northwest Ohio winters. Species to keep an eye out for include the American tree sparrow, white-throated sparrow, great black-backed gull and black duck.
Herrick Fen Nature Preserve
In winter, visitors to Herrick Fen Nature Preserve can observe the many tracks from animals that take advantage of the ease of travel along the boardwalk. Look for signs of mice, squirrel and birds foraging for seeds and any remaining berries from the surrounding native vegetation. Look out into the sedge meadows and search for the huts of muskrat, which rely on cattail and other wetland vegetation for food.
Brown's Lake Bog Nature Preserve
Transcend the starkness of winter by bundling up and hiking the trails at Brown’s Lake Bog. An easy .5-mile, round-trip boardwalk trail winds whimsically through a wetland forest and ends atop a floating bog mat. If there’s snow on the ground, you can watch for wildlife tracks from the hearty critters that remain active this time of year. Go on to hike the .5-mile loop trail that leads into well-drained uplands where huge towering oaks dominate.
Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve
Don’t let a little chill keep you from hiking the 2.5 miles worth of trails at Big Darby Headwaters. With no bugs to combat, you’ll have a peaceful experience looking for snowy tracks from still-active wildlife. Or look to the sky to catch a glimpse of resident winter birds such as northern cardinal, black-capped chickadee, white-breasted nuthatch, golden and ruby-crowned kinglets and the curious brown creeper.
Edge of Appalachia Preserve
Winter at the Edge of Appalachia offers the best time to view the topography of southern Ohio. Look for exposed cliffs on the distant hills, rock outliers at the base of the cliffs, and the deep ravines leading toward Brush Creek. Watch for the pileated woodpecker, our largest woodpecker species, or try and catch a glimpse of a yellow-breasted sapsucker. Listen for the calls of yellow-rumped warblers, Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice as they forage through the forest. Plan on staying the day: Visitors can enjoy over 9.5 miles of trails!