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.
The Wilds Birding Drive
Please note that leaving roadways and walking on Wilds property is not permitted.
The Wilds is a large reclaimed surface mine grassland area that has abundant wintering raptors and grassland nesting birds. Surrounding the Wilds (9200 acres) are thousands of acres of American Electric Power (AEP) ReCreation Land that have similar habitats. While most of the region is this rolling grassland, there are also areas of ponds, lakes, wetlands, spoils forest, and remnant hardwood forests. Wide-open vistas make hawk-watching possible. Main roads are hard-topped, but many roads are light duty (gravel and dirt) and can be treacherous in wet seasons.
Please see the detail map to the right that indicates the locations of the roads in this birding drive of the roads surrounding the Wilds. There is no single best route, but this one visits many of the eBird hotspots near The Wilds.
You can reach The Wilds by taking OH-146 southeast from Zanesville or northwest from Cumberland. Zion Ridge Road is the first stop on this drive. Take Zion Ridge Road south from OH-146.
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.
The roads that traverse The Wilds are lightly traveled. Drive slowly and enjoy seeing birds. If you stop, pull as far to the right as possible and watch for other traffic. Watch for sparrows close to the road, ducks and geese on ponds, and raptors soaring and hunting over the fields. Black Vulture, Turkey Vulture, Osprey, Golden Eagle, Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and Rough-legged Hawk have all been reported on checklists in this area.
Zion Ridge Road ends at Big Muskie Drive (OH-284). Turn left on OH-264 and watch for the drive into the Birding Station at Jeffrey Point on the left.
Recognizing the value of the birding community to the future of our organization and conservation in general, the Wilds has worked with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife to construct an observation deck, which is open to the public year-round, seven days a week, at no charge.
The Birding Station at Jeffrey Point is a great spot to watch raptors in winter, hear grassland nesting birds in spring and summer, and watch the ospreys returning to the hack site in the spring. Look for it on OH-284, between Zion Ridge Road and International Road.
When you are ready to continue, turn left out of the driveway for the Birding Station onto OH-284. Then turn left on International Road.
International Road passes the main entrance to The Wilds. There is a large parking lot which can be very busy if you visit in the summer, or very empty if you are visiting in the winter. Continue birding from your vehicle along International Road.
At the end of International Road turn right on Cumberland Road (OH-340). Then turn left onto Prouty Road.
Drive the full length of Prouty Road and then turn around and drive the road in the opposite direction.
Turn left back onto Cumberland Road (OH-340).
Continue birding Cumberland Road from your vehicle. This is a state highway and somewhat busier than other roads in the area. You may not want to stop as often along this road, but continue watching for raptors!
At the end of Cumberland Road turn left on OH-284. In a short distance, turn left on Coal Hill Road.
Bird the entire length of Coal Hill Road, following it into Morgan County until you reach Knox Cemetery. For birders that keep careful track of county bird lists, Knox Cemetery is just over the county line in Morrow County.
After observing the birds at Knox Cemetery, retrace your route in the opposite direction along Coal Hill Road, returning to Muskingum County.
At the end of Coal Hill Road, turn right on OH-284 and then almost immediately turn left onto Rural Dale Road.
There are two eBird hotspots along the length of Rural Dale Road. Continue birding from your vehicle until you reach High Hill Road. Turn right on High Hill.
Bird the length of High Hill Road until you reach Sugar Grove Road. Turn left on Sugar Grove.
The length of Sugar Grove Road is the last stop on this birding drive of The Wilds. If you have more time, you can revisit any of the roads that were particularly active for you on this visit.