People walking at Cedar Bog in Urbana (photo courtesy of Ohio History Connection)

Visit Ohio’s Oldest Nature Preserve

Cedar Bog in Urbana covers 446 acres and is home to some of the most diverse plant and animal life in the state. 

Cedar Bog covers 446 acres in Urbana, and the land has remained unchanged since it was formed thousands of years ago when enormous glaciers flattened the area. In 1942, the state of Ohio purchased and set aside the land for the preserve’s first 100 acres, and it has since been added to and designated a National Natural Landmark, one of just 23 in the state.

“Some people don’t see natural areas as important,” says Madison Brown, preserve manager at Cedar Bog. “They like to go see old houses or statues or museums. It’s a landmark for a reason. Nobody has touched it. It’s exactly as it has been.”

The preservation of the natural landscape is the area’s biggest draw, in addition to its multitude of diverse species. The name Cedar Bog is a misnomer, as the preserve better constitutes the makings of a fen, allowing water to flow freely through it and creating an area that is more conducive for unique and diverse plant species to thrive.

Cedar Bog contains representation from 30 to 40 percent of Ohio’s native plant population and 40 percent of its rare and endangered plant species, including both the largest and smallest orchid species in North America. The preserve also provides an oasis to endangered animal species, such as the eastern massasauga rattlesnake and the elfin skimmer dragonfly.

Visitors to Cedar Bog can hope to see some of these species, as well as other native flora and fauna, during a walk along the preserve’s 1.1-mile boardwalk and short prairie trail. (Guided tours with a volunteer naturalist are also available but by special request only.) Additionally, Cedar Bog’s on-site nature center is open year-round, Wednesday through Saturday, and offers exhibits and educational programs.

“No other place is going to have the exact plants that we have, and we have most,” Brown says. “I’ve always known Ohio to be cornfields and soybeans. ... Then you walk through Cedar Bog and it’s like you’re walking through time.”

980 Woodburn Rd., Urbana 43078, 937/484-3744,