Wahkeena Nature Preserve - Fairfield County
Wahkeena Nature Preserve
2200 Pump Station Road, SE
Sugar Grove, OH 43155
"Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth." ~ Henry David Thoreau
Wahkeena Nature Preserve - Fairfield County
Mid-March 2023 through mid-November 2023
8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday
***Please see the Our Thoughts section regarding hours of operation. ***
Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a 150-acre natural area located in Fairfield County, Ohio. The preserve is known for its diverse range of flora and fauna and is home to a variety of habitats including wetlands, forests, and meadows. Visitors to the preserve can enjoy several hiking trails that range from easy to moderate difficulty, with a few hills and elevation changes. The trails are well-marked and well-maintained, making it easy to explore the natural beauty of the area.
In 1956, Wahkeena Nature Preserve was bequeathed to Ohio History Connection, and it is now managed by Fairfield County Park District. The nature preserve offers visitors a range of activities such as visiting the Nature Center, nature walks, birding, and observing a wide array of wildlife. Throughout the season, the park also offers nature programs and guided nature walks.
Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a great place for nature enthusiasts. It is located on the northern edge of the Hocking Hills
BRIEF HISTORY OF WAHKEENA NATURE PRESERVE
In 1931, Dr. Frank Warner of Columbus gifted his bride, Carmen Hambleton, ninety-four acres of old farmland. The land was located in southern Fairfield County. This may have been an unconventional wedding present, but Carmen loved it. She named the property Wahkeena. The work Wahkeena means “most beautiful.” In the following years, they acquired more land and Wahkeena grew to 150 acres.
Today, the property looks completely different from when Dr. Frank Warner purchased it. Over the years, the Warners tore down old buildings, built new buildings, and planted more than 100,000 trees. They also installed the lake near the parking lot. Carmen was also loved gardening and planted lots of flowers. Some of the flowers are still thriving on the property today.
In 1956, Carmen passed away. She bequeathed the property to The Ohio History Connection. The Ohio History Connection is a private non-profit organization. You can learn more about them HERE.
HIKING TRAILS AT WAHKEENA NATURE PRESERVE
Wahkeena Nature Preserve offers an exceptional hiking experience with its well-maintained and clearly marked trails. Visitors can enjoy the easy to moderate level trails while admiring the picturesque surroundings. However, the boardwalk trail, floating over a marshy pond, can be a challenge for those with balance issues as it moves under your feet. Despite this, the boardwalk trail is a unique and beautiful feature of the preserve. With its stunning scenery and enjoyable hiking trails, Wahkeena Nature Preserve is the perfect destination for all nature enthusiasts.
The Park has 4 main trails and a few connector trails:
Casa Burro Trail (1 Mile)
Shelter Trail (.5 Mile)
Pond Loop Trail (.10 Mile)
Boardwalk Trail (.5 Mile)
CASA BURRO TRAIL
The Casa Burro Trail at Wahkeena Nature Preserve offers a natural hiking experience with some elevation changes and a footbridge to cross.
TrailBuddy Trekking Poles on Amazon
The Shelter Trail at Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a natural hiking trail that offers a moderate level of difficulty with some elevation changes, footbridges, and stairs. Along the trail, visitors can find a small shelter house with seating, providing a great spot to rest and take in the scenic surroundings. While there are no picnic tables, the shelter house offers a peaceful place to enjoy a snack or lunch.
Along the trail, visitors can enjoy a man-made pool that collects water from a sandstone-filtered spring in the cliffs Additionally, the trail leads hikers past an old outdoor oven and grill, as well as a couple of historical buildings that add to the charm of the area.
POND LOOP TRAIL
The Pond Loop Trail is a very short trail that is located behind the Nature Center. A small section of the trail runs beside Lake Odonata. The trail offers hikers the opportunity to enjoy beautiful views of the water, wildlife, and the surrounding natural scenery. The Pond Loop Trail is a great option for anyone looking to enjoy a peaceful and scenic hike in the beautiful surroundings of Wahkeena Nature Preserve.
One of the unique features of Wahkeena Nature Preserve is the boardwalk trail that floats over a marshy pond. While this feature adds to the beauty of the area, it can be challenging for some visitors as the boardwalk moves under your feet. However, for those comfortable walking on the boardwalk, this trail offers a unique experience.
BIRDING AND WILDLIFE
In addition to hiking, Wahkeena Nature Preserve offers opportunities for bird watching and wildlife observation, with several bird species and other animals that call the preserve home. The preserve is also a popular spot for photography, with plenty of picturesque scenery to capture.
Wahkeena Nature Preserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife, making it a great place for nature enthusiasts. Visitors to the park may catch a glimpse of white-tailed deer, Opossum, striped skunks, raccoons, coyotes, flying squirrels, red fox, gray fox, and other animals that call the preserve home. When we visited the Ohio nature preserve, there were lots of salamanders. We believe the several we spotted at the study pond were red spotted newts.
Additionally, birdwatchers will be delighted to learn that over 130 species of birds have been spotted in the park, according to eBird. Among these sightings are magnificent great horned owls and barred owls, making Wahkeena Nature Preserve a prime location for birdwatching.
Whether you're an avid birdwatcher or simply enjoy observing wildlife in its natural habitat, Wahkeena Nature Preserve offers a memorable experience.
We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Wahkeena Nature Preserve and were impressed by the natural beauty of the area. However, we did have some frustrations with the park's inconsistent hours of operation. Despite its magnificence, we would not recommend making a special trip to Wahkeena Nature Preserve. We stopped countless times over several years, and they were never open, even though the hours of operation said they were.
However, if you happen to be in the area, we highly recommend stopping by to check to see if it is open. It is truly a beautiful and unique location. Additionally, there are plenty of other hiking options in the vicinity, including Rhododendron Cove, Cantwell Cliffs, Old Man's Cave, Clear Creek Metro Park, Charles F. Alley Memorial Park, and more. And if you're looking for some artistic inspiration, don't miss the nearby Flight of the Hawk Park. Overall, Wahkeena Nature Preserve is a wonderful addition to any outdoor adventure in the area.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AT WAHKEENA NATURE PRESERVE
Please note that trail rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Wahkeena Nature Preserve as of June 2022.
There are bathrooms located between the parking lot and the welcome center.
Bicycles are not permitted on the Wahkeena Nature Preserve hiking trails.
eBird shows there have been 133 species of bird spotted at Wahkeena Nature Preserve.
A few footbridges.
Concealed carry is permitted.
Pets are not permitted at Wahkeena Nature Preserve.
Trail is natural and can get muddy and slippery in spots.
Blacktop parking lot has between 20-30 parking spaces. We forgot to count. Whoops.
There are picnic tables located at the shelter house located near the Boardwalk Trail.
There is no playground.
There are few benches scattered about through the park.
A lot of shade.
Large shelter house near the Boardwalk Trail.
Trails are easy to see.
Trails are easy to moderate.
We did not see any trash cans.
Large pond near the entrance.
We do not recall seeing any ADA parking spaces. However, the trails are not wheelchair accessible.
Locate Wahkeena Nature Preserve HERE