LaGrange, Ohio 44050
Carlisle Reservation webpage
Carlisle Reservation map
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This area can be birded in three segments: Hale Road Trail, Southern Loop Horse Trail, and Northern Loop Horse Trail. If you’re up for walking, you can bird all three segments! Importantly, in the center of all these trails is a restroom building off the parking and horse ring areas, and you may have the added bonus of encountering friendly horseback riders along these trails.
Hale Road Trail is accessed before you drive back to the parking and horse ring areas. Shortly after you pass through entrance gate, pull off on right side of road and park in grass along trail. Hale Road Trail is then across the road, left side of road after you pass through gate. Walking this trail is mostly wooded edges. Yellow-breasted Chat has been found on this trail along with spring warblers, vireos, grosbeak, orioles, woodpeckers, flycatchers, etc. Listen for Blue-winged Warbler or Hooded Warbler. The trail bends and you’ll eventually cross a wooden footbridge. After the footbridge the trail bends again until you reach a marshy wetland where geese, waterfowl, and maybe a bittern can be found. At the wetland you can go right or left on the trail – whichever direction you choose, you’ll come to the end of the trail and need to turn around and head back the same way as you came.
Southern Loop Horse Trail is a loop around the meadow seen to your left as you drive back to the parking and horse ring areas. From parking lot, walk toward picnic shelter, possibly encountering Chipping Sparrows, Eastern Bluebirds, or Barn Swallows along the way. Enter gravel path past picnic shelter and bird the shrubby, treed edges of path listening for Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks in summer months. Continue on gravel path until it bends to right and crosses park road where you’ll start the Southern Loop Horse Trail. This trail loops around meadow with river on the left for part of the way. Again look/listen for Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks in this meadow. Orioles, migrant warblers, vireos, sparrows, cuckoos, flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Brown Thrasher, and Cerulean Warbler have been found along this trail. The rail ends at another picnic shelter and then back to parking area. Additionally from parking area you can continue down a path to a pond behind the restroom building.
Northern Loop Horse Trail is a loop around another meadow and into the woods. A portion of the trail also skirts along the river. This meadow usually gets planted with corn to create the Parks’ corn maze in the fall. From parking lot, walk past horse ring area and turn left or right. Again, look/listen for Eastern Meadowlarks and Bobolinks in this meadow. Follow trail into the woods. Yellow-throated Warbler has been found in the woods, so listen for their call and look in the sycamores. You can follow the entire outer loop or take half the loop by using trail that crosses through center of the loop (see trail map).
From Patty McKelvey
About Carlisle Reservation Equestrian Center
The Equestrian Area, just a bit further southwest on Nickel-Plate Diagonal Road, is not just for horses, although horse lovers find it a favorite place to ride. Easily recognized by an outdoor arena with stands and judge’s stand, the area is strictly BYOH (Bring Your Own Horse) with trailer parking beside the arena. Once you’re saddled up there are over 6 miles of equestrian trails to follow through all kinds of terrain, and the arena itself is open for public use.
But you don’t need a horse to take full advantage of the equestrian area. Surrounding trails attract everyone from cross-country runners to dogsledders to the casual stroller. If you’re a serious stargazer you might be interested in the Nielsen Observatory right across the road from the equestrian arena. This facility has two large telescopes and offers programs year-round presented by the Black River Astronomical Society, as well as special programs for schools, scouts, and other groups.
About Carlisle Reservation
Carlisle is the largest of the Lorain County Metro Parks, encompassing 1,917 acres when included with Forest Hills Golf Course which lies at the northeastern end. Carlisle Reservation also offers a large variety of events and activities throughout the year and is home to the administrative offices for the entire park system.
Along with being the largest reservation in the Lorain County park system, Carlisle also has the most diverse natural habitat, including wetland, field, scrub/shrub, prairie, and forest. Much of this variety is due to its location along the transitional area between the great eastern forest, which once ran to the east coast, and the great western prairies, which spread out to the Rocky Mountains.
The west branch of the Black River flows through the park and has created extensive wetlands and bottomlands along both its present and former paths, dominated by box elder, willow, walnut, sycamore, and cottonwood. On higher and drier ground, Carlisle’s forests include combinations of ash, elm, sugar maple, beech, red oak, basswood, tulip, and hickory.
Some notable species in the area include pumpkin ash, butternut, closed gentian and fox grape (native to Ohio and precursor to the modern grape)—altogether a wide variety of flowers and trees, many of which are on the special concerns list because they are quickly disappearing in Ohio.
From Carlisle Reservation webpage