Morgan Swamp Preserve

At nearly 2,000 acres, Morgan Swamp is one of the largest protected wetland communities in Ohio.

At nearly 2,000 acres, The Nature Conservancy’s Morgan Swamp Preserve is one of the largest privately protected forested wetlands in Ohio. The swamp is home to an abundance of wetlands including swamps, bogs, beaver ponds and vernal pools. A rich diversity of plants and animals call it home, from the beautiful white calla lily to the tiny four-toed salamander hidden among the vernal pools. 

Morgan Swamp Preserve is part of a greater wetland system called the Grand River Lowlands, which got its start some 12,000 years ago when portions of northeastern Ohio’s Ashtabula and Trumball counties were occupied by a large glacial lake. This glacial lake deposited a thick layer of silt and clay ranging in depth from 5 to 50 feet. Watertight, these clay soils resulted in the formation of the swamp forest, marsh, sphagnum bogs and sedge meadows that exist in the area today.

These wetlands are critical to the health of the state-designated “Wild and Scenic” Grand River, an important tributary to Lake Erie, which is a source of drinking water for millions of people

Current Conservation Work

Morgan Swamp and the surrounding area is a 2,000-acre remnant of a five-square-mile swamp that existed at the time of European settlement. By the beginning of 20th century, the entire region had been subjected to logging, draining, peat fires and farming. Relatively undisturbed for nearly 100 years, Morgan Swamp is recovering from these impacts and is now dynamic and self-sustaining.

Today, the greatest threats to Morgan Swamp Preserve are the destruction of adjacent wetlands, logging within the Grand River floodplain and upland forest communities, and invasive species. 

The Conservancy has been working to combat these threats through restoration, land acquisition and education efforts. 

  • In 2011, a generous donation from the Cleveland-based City Mission expands the preserve by nearly 60 acres and increases protection efforts along the Grand River. This site was later named Grand River Conservation Campus.
  • In 2009, the Conservancy expanded Morgan Swamp Preserve by more than 250 acres, including a 70-acre conservation easement.
  • In 2006, the Conservancy opened Morgan Swamp Preserve to the public. The preserve features a handicapped accessible trail and interpretive signage showcasing the importance of the ecosystem to both people and wildlife.
  • Land acquisition focuses on protecting those areas critical in maintaining ecosystem function.
  • The Conservancy has for years sustained the unique nature of the plant and animal communities at Morgan Swamp through invasive species control.

Morgan Swamp Slideshow

View a slideshow of one of the Conservancy's most popular preserves in Ohio.

The preserve harbors an array of rare species, many of which are associated with boreal habitats and are near the southern edge of their ranges in North America. A faunal survey of the preserve has revealed 108 bird species, 24 fishes, 26 reptiles, and 24 mammals—including the river otter. 

Two separate portions of the Morgan Swamp Preserve property are accessible for public use—Long Pond and Grand River Conservation Campus. Both sections of the property offer opportunities for hiking and wildlife-watching. Grand River Conservation Campus also offers a playground and access to paddling/fishing. 

Visitors to Morgan Swamp Preserve can explore more than 3 miles of walking trails:

Long Pond Trail at Morgan Swamp Preserve:
Length: 1.25 miles (.25 miles trail from parking lot to observation deck, 1 mile primitive trail extension to and from observation deck)
Difficulty: Parking lot to observation deck - Easy. Primitive trail extension – Moderate.

Download and view the Long Pond Trail Map and Guide

Grand River Conservation Campus Trails at Morgan Swamp Preserve:

  • Bliss Pond Trail — an easy .2 mile trail with overlooks of the Grand River and the Conservation Campus. 
  • Grand River Trail — an easy .3 mile trail along the Grand River that connects with the Hemlock Swamp & Bliss Pond trails.
  • Hemlock Swamp Trail — a moderate, 1-mile trail that starts from the Grand River Trail, winds through a unique hemlock yellow birch forest and overlooks a beaver pond.
Download and view the Grand River Conservation Campus Trail Map and Guide

Morgan Swamp and the Grand River Conservation Campus are open seven days a week, from dawn to dusk. 


Long Pond at Morgan Swamp Preserve
From the north:

  • From Interstate 90, travel south on State Route 534 for about 7 miles to its junction with State Route 166/Footville-Richmond Rd.
  • Travel east on Footville-Richmond Rd. for 3.4 miles to the Morgan Swamp parking lot. 

 From the south:

  • From U.S. Route 6, take State Route 45 north for about 3.2 miles to Footville-Richmond Rd.
  • Travel west on Footville-Richmond for about 1.6 miles to the Morgan Swamp parking lot 

Grand River Conservation Campus at Morgan Swamp Preserve
From the north:

  • From Interstate 90, travel south on State Route 534 for about 7 miles to its junction with State Route 166/Footville-Richmond Road
  • Travel east on Footville-Richmond Road for 2 miles to Windsor-Mechanicsville Road.
  • Travel 1.8 miles south on Windsor-Mechanicsvile Road to Callender Road.
  • Travel 1 mile east on Callender Road to 3973 Callender Road.
  • Driveway on north side of road before (to the west of) bridge

From the south:

  • From U.S. Route 6, take State Route 45 north for about 2 miles to Callender Road
  • Travel west on Callender Road for about 1.5 miles to the 3973 Callender Road
  •  Driveway on north side of road before (to the west of) bridge

Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

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