Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve / Ross County Park District
“The continued existence of wildlife and wilderness is important to the quality of life of humans.” ― Jim Fowler
Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve
We just happened to come across Kinnikinnick Fen Nature preserve by accident. Driving by, we spotted the sign and turned around. It was getting later in the day, but we decided to check it out anyway.
Kinnikinnick Fen Nature preserve sits back off Crouse Chapel Road. There is a small gravel parking lot that can accommodate approximately 15-20 cars. There are two benches and a recycling trash station.
About Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve
The Southeast Ohio nature preserve is maintained by the Ross County Park District. It consists of 154 acres and sits along Kinnikinnick Creek. There are 1.8 miles of walking path that runs through the woods, an open wildflower field, grass field, Kinnikinnick Wetlands and Oxbow Wetland.
What is a Fen? (Information is taken directly off their sign)
A Fen is one of the main types of wetlands, the others being grassy marshes, forested swamps, and peaty bogs. Fens are minerotrophic peatlands, usually fed by mineral-rich surface water or groundwater. They are characterized by their distinct water chemistry, which is pH neutral or alkaline, with relatively high dissolved mineral levels but few other plant nutrients. They are usually dominated by grasses and sedges, and typically have brown mosses. As a result of the unusual alkaline water chemistry, several threatened plant species are found here, along with a couple of Ohio threatened animals, the Kirkland’s snake and the spotted turtle.
Without understanding their great biodiversity, fens have been damaged in the past by land drainage, and peat harvesting. Some are now being carefully restored with modern management methods. The principal challenges are to restore natural water flow regimes, to maintain the quality of water, and to prevent invasion by wood plants. One mission of the Ross County Park District is just that. We prioritize the maintenance of the delicate geological feature and the awareness of the rare and sensitive ecosystems it hosts.
The Trail and Overlooks
The trails at the beginning of the nature preserve were well-kept and were padded with wood chips. They were easy to walk and had little to no elevation changes. Once it opened to the prairie area, the path was grass.
The first trail heads off to the right of the parking area. It is very short and ends at a wooden dock that overlooks Oxbow Wetland.
The main trailhead is located to the left of the parking lot. It gently winds back and forth through the woods. Not far up the path, there is an overlook that overlooks the Oxbow Wetlands. It was very nice and well-constructed. It had one bench.
Continuing down the path there was another overlook. It has a separate path that leads to it. The path veers off to the right. This overlook is just as nice as the first one, has one bench and overlooks Kinnikinnick Creek.
Heading back down the main path it opens into a field. To the right, there is a small trail that leads to Kinnikinnick Creek.
The path continues through the open wildflower field. This is where we had to stop. Before we were able to get to the loop, the path was completely flooded.
Even though the map states that there are 1.8 miles of trails, we still managed to walk 2.23 miles without walking the loop.
Kinnikinnich Fen Nature Preserve is a great place for birding in Ohio. With the woods, open field, wildflowers, Kinnikinnick Creek and the wetlands, this area is a birding hotspot. According to eBird’s checklist, there have been 101 species spotted since September 2017.
During our short trip we spotted:
Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve in Ohio is an interesting place. It was very easy to walk, and overlooks were a great addition. They will allow you to get a glimpse of plants and wildlife that you would not otherwise see.
Most places we visit there are tick warning signs. We see the occasional tick from time to time. However, when we left Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve, we spotted one tick. The next morning, we found 3 more. We would suggest that you use a tick repellant and check for ticks when you leave.
What You Can Expect at Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve
Please note that park rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Kinnikinnick Fen Nature Preserve as of April 2020.
We were unable to locate any rules or regulations for the nature preserve from the Ross County Park District.
There were no bathrooms.
Great for birding.
Had a small footbridge
Little to no elevation changes.
Gravel parking lot.
No picnic tables.
2 benches were available near the parking lot. There was also a bench on each overlook dock.
There is shade and open spaces.
No shelter house.
Trails were not marked. For the most part they were visible and easy to follow. However, once the trail got close to the loop it completely disappeared.
Trails are natural and in some places covered in wood chips.
There was a trash recycling center.
Trail runs next to Kinnikinnick Creek, Kinnikinnick Wetlands and Oxbow Wetland.
There were two blue parking blocks. There were no signs designating them as ADA spaces.
Special Features - Overlooks.