Jefferson County Birding Drive

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.

Jefferson County Birding Drive
Click on the hotspot names below to view the page about that hotspot.

This Birding Drive explores eBird hotspots in Jefferson County. When you submit checklists here you help to add to the data about birds in this region of Ohio.

Rayland Marina (Jefferson Co.)

Rayland, Ohio 43943

The Rayland Marina is on the Ohio River 9.4 miles north of I-70 on OH-7. From the Ohio River Scenic Byway (OH-7) take the exit toward OH-150, Rayland, and Dixonville. Turn left on County Road 80 and arrive at the Short Creek Public Boat Launch. It is adjacent to the Rayland Marina.

Short Creek Marshland

353 County Road 15A Rayland, Ohio 43943

From the Rayland Marina, turn left onto County Road 17-A and in .3 mile continue onto Old State Highway 7. Turn right onto County Road 16, turn left onto County Highway 1/6, then turn left onto Litter Road. The Short Creek Marshland is on the left in .3 mile.

The marsh, on the south side of Litter Road (County Road 15A) near Ryland, is private property. Please, view birds from the roadside only.

Friendship Park

Smithfield, Ohio 43948

From Short Creek Marshland, drive west on Litter Road for .3 mile. Turn right onto OH-150 west and drive 4.7 miles. Turn right onto Dry Fork Road and drive 3.6 miles. Make a slight right onto OH-152 north and drive 2 miles. Turn left onto OH-151 and go .9 mile. Turn right onto Bloomingdale-Smithfield-Chandler Road and go .4 mile. Turn right onto Friendship Park Road and arrive at Friendship Park in .6 mile.

Friendship Park is a 1320-acre park in Jefferson County, Ohio, right outside of the village of Smithfield. The park is equipped with RV and camping facilities. Friendship Park also provides excellent opportunities for picnicking, fishing, boating, bird watching, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and other self -directed outdoor activities.

The 89-acre main lake holds catfish, bass, bluegill, carp, and trout. Several small lakes, wetlands, and undeveloped property surround the main lake and camping areas.

Friendship Park provides an excellent opportunity for nature lovers to enjoy a serene get-away, while at the same time offers an abundance of opportunities for the outdoor business enthusiasts.

Mingo Grasslands

Dawson Road (Township Road 184) Mingo Junction, Ohio 43938

From Friendship Park, return to Bloomingdale-Smithfield-Chandler Road, turn left and go .4 mile. Turn left onto OH-151 east for .9 mile. Turn left onto Main Street and drive 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Weems Road and go .7 mile. Turn right onto Smithfield Station-Weems Road and drive 1.2 miles. Turn right onto Township Highway 189 and go .4 mile. Continue straight onto Lake Betsy Road for 1.6 miles. Turn Right onto Fernwood Bloomingdale Road and go .2 mile. Turn right onto Dawson Road. Arrive at the Mingo Grasslands in .3 mile.

The Mingo Grasslands are on Dawson Road (Township Road 184) just south of Fernwood State Forest. The grasslands are private property. Please, view birds from the roadside only.

Fernwood State Forest

Township Road 181 Bloomingdale, Ohio 43910

From the Mingo Grasslands, drive northwest on Dawson Road for .3 mile. Make a sharp right onto Fernwood Bloomingdale Road and go .3 mile.

Enter Fernwood State Forest and continue .8 mile on Fernwood Bloomingdale Road. Turn right onto Township Road 181. Township Road 181 traverses Fernwood State Forest for the next 1.5 miles.

The 3,023 acre Fernwood State Forest was purchased in 1961. A substantial portion of the land has been strip-mined for coal. However, the production of acid mine water is minimal because of the neutralizing effect of limestone deposits.

The majority of unstripped lands are located on ridges or in valleys and are in forest cover. Subsequent reforestration and installation of recreation facilities, funded through the Appalachian Regional Development Act of 1965 and the Ohio Capital Improvements program, have restored the area to a beautiful, healthy forest, providing visitors with many outdoor recreational opportunities.

Hidden Hollow Campground, with 22 family campsites, is equipped with picnic tables, fire rings, and vault latrines. Campers must provide their own water. Campers must select a site; a forest officer will issue permits and familiarize visitors with camping regulations.

Located just outside the perimeter of the Hidden Hollow Campground is the Fernwood State Forest Land Lab. The land lab is used to promote natural resource and environmental education.

A three-mile hiking trail loops around most of Fernwood’s largest tract. Picnic tables located in several areas and the Little Round Top Picnic area provide forest users with ample opportunities to relax, eat, and enjoy the forest’s natural beauty. Two scenic vistas provide breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside. Parking areas are located throughout in the forest area.

The forest is open to public fishing and hunting under Division of Wildlife regulations. Many ponds are scattered throughout the area and have been stocked with largemouth bass, bluegill, and channel catfish. Hunters pursue white-tailed deer and many small game species including squirrel, rabbit, and grouse. Hunting is not permitted within 400 feet of any camping area, residence or structure, and firearms may not be discharged on, from or across any road or driveway.

Jefferson Lake SP

501 Township Road 261A Richmond, Ohio 43944

From Fernwood State Forest, take Fernwood Bloomingdale Road north from Township Road 181 for .8 mile. Turn left onto Kenwood Road for .3 mile and then make a slight right onto Bantam Ridge Road for 2.5 miles. Turn left to stay on Bantam Ridge Road for .7 mile. Turn right onto Cadiz Road for .1 mile, then turn left onto Two Ridge Road for 1.5 miles. Turn left onto OH-43 north for .1 mile, turn left onto OH-646 for .1 mile, and turn left onto Kragel Road and drive 2.9 miles. Turn right onto OH-152 north and drive 4.1 miles. Turn left onto OH-43 north and drive 1.2 miles. Turn right onto State Park Mooretown Road and drive 3.4 miles. Turn left onto Township Road 261A and arrive at Jefferson Lake State Park in 1 mile.

The sandstone hills of Jefferson County are part of the Appalachian Highlands which envelope the southeastern part of Ohio. In the sandstone bedrock can be found layers of coal which were formed by decaying swamp vegetation millions of years ago during the Pennsylvanian geologic period.

Covering the hills and valleys of the area is a second growth oak and hickory forest. Growing side-by-side with towering white oaks and shagbark hickories are stately beeches and maples, tulip trees, walnuts, elms, and ashes.

The forest is composed of much more than trees, although they constitute its most conspicuous feature. The observant visitor may find a wealth of wildflowers such as wild geranium, hepatica, and bloodroot. The leafy canopy rings with a harmonious chorus of bird songs. Wild turkey and ruffed grouse are dispersed in these hills and forests as well. These are just a few of the natural wonders found at Jefferson Lake.

The Jefferson Lake region was once the home of Logan, the celebrated Mingo chief whose family was massacred near here on the Ohio River at the mouth of Yellow Creek. This incident spurred Lord Dunmore’s War in 1774.

In more recent times, the area has been home to the steel industry in Ohio. The underlying coal fields and Ohio River access have made it a focal point of this industry.

Jefferson Lake State Park was developed on 962 acres in the valley of the Town Fork of Yellow Creek. Land acquisition began in 1928. The lake and other facilities were constructed by the National Park Service in cooperation with the old Ohio Division of Conservation as a project of the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. The dam was constructed in 1934 and the 17-acre lake was filled in 1946. In 1950, the area was turned over to the newly created Division of Parks and Recreation.

New Cumberland Locks and Dam

OH-7 Stratton, Ohio 43961

From Jefferson Lake State Park, drive northwest on township Road 261A for 1 mile. Turn right onto State Park Mooretown Road, immediately turn left on to Shane Road and go .8 mile. Continue straight onto County Road 56 and Drive 3.8 miles. turn left onto OH-152 north and drive 9.6 miles. Turn left to merge onto OH-7 north and arrive at the New Cumberland Locks and Dam in 1.4 miles.

New Cumberland Locks and Dam is located on the right descending bank of the Ohio River, just off OH-7 at the small town of Stratton, Ohio. Across the river and two miles downstream lies New Cumberland, West Virginia, the originally planned site of the lock and dam, and hence its namesake. The tall stacks and white steam of the coal-fired Ohio Edison Sammis Power Plant between Stratton and neighboring Port Homer tower over the project.

New Cumberland navigation project was constructed from 1955 to 1961, with the locks opening for traffic in November 1959. This facility eliminated the original Locks and Dams 7, 8 and 9 which were constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers between 1904-1914. The three replaced projects each contained a single lock and the old-style wooden wicket dam.

Montgomery averages about 450 commercial lockages every month, plus another 275 lockages of pleasure craft during the busy summer months.