Morgan County Birding Drive
Ohio Birding Drives are routes for birding trips which can be accomplished in one day, stopping to walk and bird at various eBird hotspots. For each birding drive, a Google map is provided with the route and suggested stops at eBird hotspots. You may save the link to the Google map on your smartphone or tablet, or print a copy on paper to take with you. Links are provided with information about each eBird hotspot. Follow those links for more information about birding each location.
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.
Morgan County is one of Ohio’s “under-birded” counties (fewer than 1000 eBird checklists). This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio. Please, note that one of the locations at Burr Oak Lake, Tom Jenkins Dam, is just across the county line in Athens County.
+ If you are approaching this birding drive from the west, get off I-70 at Exit 132 and follow OH-13 south.
+ If approaching from the east, get off I-70 at Exit 155 and follow OH-60 south to OH-555 south, OH-719 west, OH-93 south, to OH-13 south.
Burr Oak State Park–Beach, Campground, and Harbor
Burr Oak State Park–Beach, Campground, and Harbor
To reach the beach, campground, and harbor, take Burr Oak Road east from OH-13.
Burr Oak Lake was built as a multiple-use reservoir for flood control, water supply, and recreation. The lake was a cooperative venture. The Department of Natural Resources purchased the land and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam and control gates.
The beach, campground, and harbor are on the west side of Burr Oak Lake in Burr Oak State Park.
Tom Jenkins Dam
From the beach, campground, and harbor, return to OH-13 via Burr Oak Road. The Tom Jenkins Dam is south on OH-13 a short distance. The dam is located in Athens County
Tom Jenkins Dam (Burr Oak Lake) is a multi-purpose flood control project built by the Corps of Engineers under the authority of the Flood Control Act of 1944.
The Tom Jenkins Dam office is open from 7:30 am until 4:00 pm.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers owns 100 acres of land surrounding Tom Jenkins Dam including a portion of Burr Oak Lake in front of the Dam. The Corps also purchased the rights to flood around the land around Burr Oak Lake up to an elevation of 750 feet.
Burr Oak State Park (Morgan County)
From Tom Jenkins Dam, take OH-13 south to OH-78, returning to Morgan County. Follow OH-78 east to Burr Oak Lodge Road and turn left toward Burr Oak Lodge.
Nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Burr Oak Lodge and Conference Center overlooks sparkling Burr Oak Lake while blending beautifully into the natural forest for which southern Ohio is so well-known.
There are 40 miles of hiking trails, including a generous portion of the famous Buckeye Trail, to explore in the Morgan County section of Burr Oak State Park.
Burr Oak State Park–Boat Dock 3
To reach Boat Dock 3, return to OH-78 on Burr Oak Lodge Road. Turn left (northeast) and follow OH-78 to Mountville Road. Turn left (west) on Mountville Road and follow the road to Boat Dock 3.
Boat Dock 3 provides views of the northeast end of Burr Oak Lake.
Wolf Creek Wildlife Area
Return to OH-78 on Burr Oak Lodge Road. Turn left (northeast) on OH-78. Follow OH-78 about 6 miles to Wade Tower Road. Turn right (south) on Wade Tower Road and go about 1 mile to Fulton Lane. Turn left (east) on Fulton Lane and follow it to Wolf Creek Wildlife Area.
In Morgan County, by far the best birding spot is Wolf Creek Wildlife Area. It has a small lake that often has waterfowl, grassland, and second-growth woodland, all within walking distance. This is a good place to look for Woodcocks in the early spring.
This 3,911-acre wildlife area is nine miles southwest of McConnelsville and 11 miles northeast of Glouster along OH-78. The scenic rolling hills are dissected by Wolf Creek and several of its tributaries. Brushlands occupy approximately 15 percent of the area, open land 18 percent, and woodlands 66 percent, with wetlands and area ponds occupying less than one percent of the area. Most of the open lands are maintained in agricultural rotations through agreements with local farmers. Brushlands are selectively managed to be maintained in old field condition. Stands of oaks and hickories dominate the drier woodland sites. Maple, beech, elm, and ash are most common on the lower slopes and along streams.
The next three eBird hotspots are along the Muskingum River in the Muskingum River State Park. Head south on Fulton Lane toward Rosseau Hill Road. Turn left on Rosseau Hill Road. Turn left at the first cross street onto Rosseau Road. Turn left onto McInturf Road and continue to follow this road to OH-377. Turn right onto OH-377 south. Turn left onto OH-266 east. Follow Oh-266 east to OH-376. Turn left (north) on OH-376 and very shortly again turn left into the Lock 6 parking area in Stockport.
Muskingum River State Park–Lock 6, Stockport
There is an eagle’s nest visible from this location and Bald Eagles are often seen resting in the sycamore trees along the river here. Some years the river is very good in March for waterfowl. There are pit toilets, a canoe launch area, and a paved parking area. Of all the locks, this seems to be most promising for birders.
The Muskingum River State Park has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and will be recognized as the Muskingum River Navigation Historic District.
The Muskingum River Parkway and its 160-year-old navigation system were designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark by the American Society of Civil Engineers in July 2001. Along with such majestic institutions as Hoover Dam, The Empire State Building, and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Muskingum River’s 10 hand-operated locks are now recognized as one of America’s great engineering accomplishments.
Muskingum River State Park–McConnelsville Boat Ramp
The McConnelsville Boat Ramp is 8 miles north of Lock 6 on OH-376. This area has flush toilets, a large paved parking lot. It is used primarily by boaters and fishers. Bald Eagles are often seen flying up and down the river and sometimes perched in the sycamore trees that line the river. Some years, this area is good for migrating waterfowl.
In its day, the system of locks and dams that extends 112 miles through southeastern Ohio, helped open the state and the entire Midwest to trade and development. Today, it serves the needs of more than 7,000 recreational boaters each year who come to fish, picnic and play in the scenic Muskingum Valley.
Muskingum River State Park–Lock 8, Rokeby
Head north on OH-376 toward McConnellsville. In McConnellsville turn left onto East Main Street and then follow OH-60 north for 7 miles to Lock 8.
This area has pit toilets, a paved parking lot, and a picnic table. Bald eagles are often seen flying along the river. The river is sometimes good for waterfowl migration.
The Muskingum River is formed by the confluence of the Walhonding and Tuscarawas rivers in Coshocton, Ohio. From there, it flows south through Zanesville where it is joined by the Licking River until it eventually drains into the Ohio River at Marietta. This mighty river travels 112 miles in all, traversing the scenic hill country.
The rich floodplains of the Muskingum provide suitable conditions for walnut, elm, cottonwood, and sycamore. Dense paw-paw thickets line the banks of the river. A rich diversity of bird life and mammals share the wooded shores. The Muskingum provides a remarkable fishery including catches of huge shovelhead catfish. The mighty Ohio muskellunge was once abundant in the Muskingum and its tributaries, but its population has declined in recent years. A number of rare fish share the waters such as sand darters, northern madtoms, mooneyes and channel darters. The Muskingum and its tributaries have long supported large and diverse populations of freshwater mussels. Dissolved limestone in the river is used by the mussels in constructing their shells. The Muskingum River system supports the last remaining Ohio populations of mussels such as monkeyface shell, fan shell, Ohio pigtoe, and the butterfly shell.
Smith Road Grasslands
McConnelsville, Ohio 43756
From Lock 8 take OH-60 northwest for 5.8 miles. Turn right onto OH-376 south and drive 5.5 miles. Turn left onto Smith Road.
Smith Road near McConnelsville is a good location for grassland bird species including Bobolinks, Grasshopper Sparrows, and American Pipit. The road is wide with easy pull off and little traffic. This road traverses private land. Please, view birds from the roadside only.