NC_Kitty Todd_Randall Schieber

Visit 7 Ohio Nature Preserves

In 1959, The Nature Conservancy began protecting land in Ohio. Here are preserves you can visit to see our home in its natural state.

Kitty Todd Nature Preserve • Lucas County
Early settlers crossing northwest Ohio’s Great Black Swamp encountered this sandy area with scattered trees, grass and wildflowers. Today, it’s the 1,400-acre Kitty Todd Nature Preserve. “It looks like an African savanna,” says Terry Seidel, director of land protection for The Nature Conservancy in Ohio. “We call it an oak savanna. ... You’re walking on really nothing but sand — sand that’s 40-feet deep.”

Morgan Swamp Preserve (photo by Kent Mason)
Morgan Swamp Preserve • Ashtabula County
This 2,000-acre preserve in Ohio’s most northern county gets buffeted by snow, which leads to lots of moisture. “It’s a cathedral-like swamp experience,” Seidel says, adding that visitors follow a boardwalk. “You’re among these hemlocks that keep the forest dark all throughout the day.” Vernal pools scattered across Morgan Swamp fill with frogs and salamanders each spring.

Herrick Fen (photo by Terry Seidel)
Herrick Fen Nature Preserve • Portage County
A fen is where lots of springs come out of the base of a hillside, leading to the growth of unusual plant species. A boardwalk guides visitors across this 100-acre preserve and through a stand of tamarack trees — Ohio’s only native deciduous conifer. “Every fall, typically in November ... the tamarack turns a brilliant beautiful yellow all at once and then all of its needles fall off,” Seidel says.

Edge of Appalachia Preserve System (photo by Randall Schieber)
Edge of Appalachia Preserve System • Adams County
What started with the preservation of Adams County’s 42-acre Lynx Prairie in 1959 has grown to 20,000 acres with four public trails, including the popular trek to Buzzardroost Rock and the Portman Trail (pictured). In addition, a 15-mile section of the Buckeye Trail is set to open in September. “This will be our first backpacking trail on a preserve in Ohio,” Seidel says.

Great Egret March Preserve (photo by Kent Mason)
Great Egret Marsh Preserve • Ottawa County
Named for the tall, white wading birds that gather there, this 150-acre spot in Lake Erie’s western basin illustrates the sizable coastal marshes that define this part of Ohio. “It has a beautiful, sweeping view of the back bay area, which is actually a back channel of the Portage River,” Seidel says. “It’s a great birding site and a great opportunity to get out on the water.”

Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve (photo by Randall Schieber)
Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve • Logan County
This 900-acre preserve in central Ohio lets visitors gain insight into how a stream forms. “You can take a trail to see where the springs come out of the ground,” Seidel says. “We forget that these things have a beginning.” Hikers can also check out a formerly modified portion of the stream that The Nature Conservancy has restored to a more natural route.

Brown's Lake Bog Preserve (photo by Karen Adair)
Brown’s Lake Bog Preserve
 • Wayne County
This smaller, 100-acre site is packed with unusual natural features. Designated as a National Natural Landmark, the bog is a bowl-like wetland that fills with rain water and drains poorly, creating an accumulation of peat. “It has a host of unusual plants,” Seidel says of the preserve. “One of the most distinctive plants is the pitcher plant — one of the insect-eating species.”

For more information about The Nature Conservancy’s work, visit For driving directions to each preserve, click on the link for each site. 

Photo Credits: Morgan Swamp Preserve: Kent Mason; Herrick Fen Nature Preserve: Terry Seidel; Edge of Appalachia Preserve System: Randall Schieber; Great Egret Marsh Preserve: Kent Mason; Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve: Randall Schieber; Brown’s Lake Bog Preserve: Karen Adair