North Ridgeville, Ohio 44039
Sandy Ridge Reservation webpage
Sandy Ridge Reservation map
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Photo by Sandy Ridge Reservation
Ohio Birding Day Hike: Sandy Ridge Trails
The main trail entrance at the Johnson Wetland Center leads you through a wooded section, after which you’ll emerge onto the large, open marsh area (the trail is two miles long overall). This is the most prominent feature of the park, full of wildlife, and includes an interpretive area near its center. More of a preserve area, traffic is limited to hikers, wheelchairs, and strollers.
At the other parking lot and picnic area (right next to the picnic shelter) you can take a one-mile unimproved trail that runs through the large meadow at the north end of the reservation.
From Ohio Ornithological Society website
Depending on the season, it can be helpful to carry a scope on this hike to view birds at a distance on the Marsh Loop. There is a small wooden viewing platform along the southern portion of the Marsh Loop Trail.
About Sandy Ridge Reservation
Sandy Ridge Reservation is a 310-acre wetland and wildlife preserve located in North Ridgeville. The park opened in 1999 and has quickly become a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts and one of the most popular parks for birding in Lorain County. The reservation lies on level, soggy ground flanked to the north and south by ancient beach ridges and consists of forests and open lands to explore.
The trail that begins at the Johnson Wetland Center enters into the “wet woods” section of Sandy Ridge. The pin oak and red maple dominated forest is also home to a great variety of wildflowers and ferns. Spring amphibian songs are not to be missed also!
After the woods, the trail opens into the wetlands area of Sandy Ridge. Wetland and wildlife enthusiasts will find few areas in Lorain County to compare to Sandy Ridge. The dike-enclosed restoration area supports expansive marsh habitats along with open water and scrub/shrub wetlands. A graveled loop trail topping the dikes offers long views across the wetland for both wildlife and bird watching. Waterfowl, wading birds, and shorebirds, in particular, can be abundant. Stop by the observation mound for an elevated view of the marsh area as well. Tram rides are scheduled every weekend during summer months for those unable to make the hike back to the marsh. Because this area is more “nature preserve” than a park, please leave your bicycles and pets behind. Fishing is not permitted, at this reservation.
You can also enjoy the Wet Meadow with a hike around a one-mile unimproved trail which begins by the larger picnic shelter. This trail is open to pets kept on a hand-held leash. The Marsh Loop Trail is closed to pets.
Sandy Ridge opened to the public in 1999. While the area was originally a wetland (hydric soils and vegetation types are evidence of this) it had been drained and used as farmland for many years. Then, after sitting fallow for several years again after that (during which time it began to revert to a wetland) it was purchased by Lorain County Metro Parks in 1990.
Construction took two years and required a great deal of architectural planning, earth moving (to create the raised trail system, for example), seeding areas, creating paths and putting up signage. After construction on the wetland area was completed, it was left untouched for a year while construction proceeded on the front or “public” end of the park. During this time, wildlife species began to repopulate the marsh on their own. In fact, new arrivals are still appearing every year, even those that are endangered such as bald eagles.
From Sandy Ridge Reservation webpage
Restrooms on site at Visitor Center.
Handicap accessible trails.