Buck Creek State Park
eBird Bar Charts by Season
Ohio Birding Day Hike
Buck Creek State Park Trails
Lakeview Trail – 2.9 miles – Moderate
Wrens Nest Trail – 0.25 miles – Moderate
Dam Walk Trail – 0.64 miles – Moderate
Meadow Trails – 2.0 miles – Moderate (several connected paths)
Bridle trails (moderate difficulty, 7.5 miles) are also open to hiking and snowmobiling (weather permitting).
A nearby multi-purpose trail, the Buck Creek Trail, connects the state park other community trails, the Springfield Museum of Art, and local parks.
Tips for birding Buck Creek State Park
Buck Creek State Park near Springfield in Clark County is one of the Ohio eBird hotspots with the highest number of bird species reported in the state! This state park is fairly compact and is entirely in Clark County. It has been well birded over the years by several birders who view birds on the C. J. Brown Reservoir from various vantage points and use the general hotspot to report these checklists. If you visit this state park and view birds from several locations, please use the general hotspot to report those checklists. In addition, there are several hotspots which may be used when you are birding trails on the east or west sides of the reservoir. The “Northeast Lake Access” hotspot is located at a parking area off Grant Road. You may park there and walk to the northeast corner of the reservoir. This location can, in some years, have shorebird habitat during migration and is often a place where the lake first has open water in the early spring.
The State Park is about 4000 acres, the lake occupying about 2120 acres. Over 250 species of birds have been recorded in the park. The park is surrounded by Buck Creek Lane, Old Columbus Road, Grant Road, Moorefield Road, OH-4, Croft Road, and Robert Eastman Road. Within the park there are roads that go from the entrance on Buck Creek Lane to the beach, the marina, cabins, and campground. No other entrances connect to these roads.
From Croft Road you can connect to Overlook Drive on the west side of the lake. This takes you to the Corps of Engineers visitor center, where there are a couple of wood lots and most of the rest of the land is abandoned fields planted with trees about 35 years ago. There is a beach at the southeast corner on the lake. The north end of the lake is marshy, but unfortunately many of the cattails have been replaced with reed canary grass and it isn’t very good for birds. There are a few trails in the park. The Lakeview Trail starts at the marina and goes north through the cabin area and continues to the campground. Then it continues north near the edge of the lake and connects to another trail that runs mostly under some high voltage power lines that run north and south on the east side of the lake. You can also access these trails from the equestrian area off Grant Road and at the north end of the lake off Grant Road.
On the west side of the lake the Buckhorn Trail starts from Overlook Drive and continues north along the west side of the lake for a few miles and then ends. You can also walk along the partly paved and partly gravel road that leads to the historic Crabill House. The state website shows these trails and you can get maps, a bird list, and a watchable wildlife guide from the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center.
From US-40 east out of Springfield, turn north at the traffic light onto Bird Road. The road changes names to Buck Creek Lane at the next traffic light. Continue north into the park.
The beach parking area is closed from November through April, but the beach can often be accessed from the Visitor Center parking area, old Lewis Center Road, or even the west dam parking area. Hogback Preserve may be closed on many winter weekends, but Hogback Road is always open.
From Ohio Ornithological Society
Birds of Interest by Season
The most interesting birds in winter are usually ducks and geese. Depending on the weather the lake can be completely frozen, have some open area in the center kept open by the waterfowl, or be mostly open. Unless it is frozen there are ducks and geese in the area.
If the lake freezes solid in January, good viewing conditions develop as the water starts to open in February at the north end of the lake. At this time the limited open water where Buck Creek flows into the lake provides close viewing. The fields around the lake can attract American Tree Sparrows. Walks along some of the trails in the park should produce many of the regularly occurring winter birds. There are also feeders at the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center that attract winter sparrows and finches.
In March ducks and geese are at their peak. Looking for them requires stops at several places around the lake. All of the regularly-occurring species have been seen here almost annually. We also have had American White Pelicans in the spring in recent years including a flock of 19 in April 2002. Later in the spring many regular migrants can be seen along the trails. In late spring Bell’s Vireos have been seen most years since 1985 in various locations in the park. At the Corps of Engineers Visitor Center you can usually find both orioles and sometimes Rose-breasted Grosbeaks. The orioles usually stay to nest.
This isn’t the best season at the park. The Bell’s Vireos can usually be seen until early July and chats nest in the park. In August there are sometimes a few terns and shorebirds on the beach in the early morning. There is one record of Least Tern in July and two records of Piping Plover in August on the beach.
There are several records of Buff-breasted Sandpiper in late August and September for the beach area. There are a few migrant warblers in the fall. When they finally lower the lake levels by early to mid October there are extensive mudflats at the north end of the lake that attract shorebirds. Waterfowl migration is not as good as in spring because of extensive hunting. Some ducks can stop at the south end of the lake but don’t usually stay long when the duck season is open.
About Buck Creek State Park
The natural features of Buck Creek State Park can be attributed to the effects of glaciers which receded from Ohio over 12,000 years ago. Low hills called moraines can be seen in the area where glaciers halted for extended periods of time and left deposits of gravel and sand. Old river valleys were filled by these deposits where numerous springs now well up through the sand and gravel. The nearby city of Springfield is named for the many springs seeping up from the broad meadows. The springs account for the many bogs and fens in Clark and Champaign counties of which Cedar Bog is probably the best known.
These wet areas harbor an assortment of rare and unusual plants including round-leaved sundew and horned bladderwort. The spotted turtle, a state endangered animal, is found in the area. The northernmost region of the park is an excellent area to observe waterfowl. The shallow waters provide a stopover for thousands of migrating ducks. Relatively rare songbirds of open meadows are also present including dickcissels, bobolinks, and Henslow sparrows.
From Buck Creek State Park webpage
Restrooms at picnic areas identified on Buck Creek State Park map.