Open to the Public
*Update 4-18-18: Due to ongoing wetland restoration efforts at Great Egret Marsh Preserve, portions of the Preserve remain temporarily closed. Even though all major construction activities have been completed, the hiking trails will remain off limits to allow vegetation to cover our hiking trails. All off-limits areas are clearly marked with “trail closed” signage. As soon as the vegetation returns to our hiking trails, the Preserve will reopen fully once again. We apologize for any inconvenience. For additional information, please contact Matthew Kovach at email@example.com or call The Nature Conservancy’s Coastal Program office at 419-627-7564.
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 the Conservancy’s goal to protect and restore an additional 10,000 acres of coastal habitat along Lake Erie.
Current Conservation Work
- Portions of the Great Egret Marsh Preserve will be under construction in 2017 and early 2018. For the next stage of the preserve's restoration, The Nature Conservancy will be improving the protective dike system. To date, these improvements have included the installation of two new water control structures within the wetland units and tree removal along the outside dike. The next project will be reconstruction of a portion of the outer dike. This project will require maintaining a lowered water level within the marsh units during construction and periodic closures of the wetland (loop) trail.
The gravel trail from the parking area to the West Harbor overlook and the canoe/kayak launch to West Harbor will remain open. For your own safety, please watch for moving equipment and adhere to all trail closures and postings.
Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to restore critical habitat at Great Egret Marsh! For more information please contact: Matt Kovach, firstname.lastname@example.org and use "GEM Improvements" in your subject line.
- 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 the Conservancy 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.
Great Egret Marsh Preserve attracts and supports an abundance of wildlife while working to filter the water before it enters Lake Erie.
Periodic Trail Closures During Restoration
The Loop trail accessing the marshes may be periodically closed in 2017 due to construction activities. Due to the presence of heavy equipment and earthwork, please exercise caution when traveling near the dikes. Visitors can still access the kayak launch and the Harbor Overlook. When visiting the preserve, please watch for and adhere to all trail closures and postings. We expect restoration work and construction to continue well into 2017 so visit often to watch the progress unfold!
What You'll See
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.
Things To Do
- 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.
- GPS coordinates for Great Egret Marsh are: 41.54098, -82.82240
- From Cleveland: Take State Route 2 West to State Route 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right.
- From Columbus: Take State Route 23 North to State Route 4. Go North on State Route 4 to State Route 2. Go West on State Route 2 to State Route 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right.
- From Cincinnati: Take Route 75 North to S.R. 12 (at Findlay), go North/Northeast on S.R. 12 to S.R. 53 (at Fremont), North on S.R. 53 to S.R. 2, go east on S.R. 2 to S.R. 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right
- From Toledo: Take S.R. 2 East to S.R. 269 North. After 2.5 miles, turn right onto S.R. 163 East / S.R. 269 North for about ½ mile. Turn left onto S.R. 269 North / North Buck Road for about ¾ mile. Turn left onto Buck Road 139A. Go 500 feet and the entrance to the preserve will be on your right.