Licking 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.

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

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

Hebron Fish Hatchery and Wetlands

10517 Canal Road Hebron, Ohio 43025

From I-71, take exit 129 for OH-79 toward Buckeye Lake. Turn north on OH-79 and drive .5 mile. Turn left onto South High Street and drive .8 mile. Turn left onto West Cumberland Street for .2 mile. Turn left onto Canal Road and arrive at Hebron Fish Hatchery.

The large paved parking lot at the hatchery headquarters is accessed off of Canal Road and is best for birding the containment ponds. However, there is also a small gravel parking area (Coordinates: 39.94244, –82.50832) much closer to the wetlands area. To get to this parking area, turn east on Duck Run Road, which parallels I-70. The entrance to this parking area is well marked. The bald eagles’ nest is only visible from the wetland area–follow signs toward Duck Blind #4, but look east onto private land across the tilled fields. The nest is in a large sycamore tree and seen reasonable well with binoculars. Shorebirds are usually best found along the edges of the containment ponds, some of which are drained during shorebird migration. Waterfowl can be either in the wetlands or in the containment ponds.
From Margaret Bowman

The Hebron State Fish Hatchery covers 230 acres. The main activity is the propagation of native sports fish. An extensive list of bird species has been recorded at the hatchery and checklists are often available at a kiosk there.

Dawes Arboretum

Jacksontown Road Newark, Ohio 43056

From the Hebron Fish Hatchery, turn right onto Canal Road and drive 1.8 miles. Continue straight onto West Cumberland Street for .1 mile. Turn left onto West Second Street then merge onto Fourth Street. Turn right onto US-40 east and drive 3.9 miles. Turn left onto OH-13 north and drive 1.4 miles. Turn left into the Dawes Arboretum.

The Dawes Arboretum is dedicated to increasing the love and knowledge of trees, history, and the natural world. Founded in 1929 by Beman and Bertie Dawes, The Arboretum was inspired by the couple’s love of trees and nature. The arboretum provides exceptional educational programs and events as well as maintaining incredible horticulture collections on over 1,800 acres of beautiful grounds.

The Dutch Fork Wetlands, a mitigation wetland area, is located on White Chapel Road, west from OH-13. There is a gravel parking area just off of White Chapel Road near the intersection with Licking Trails Road. Trails are not paved but offer excellent birding opportunities for wetland and grassland species. At the edge of the wetlands is the Dutch Fork, offering riparian habitat.

Denison University Biological Reserve

1690 North OH-661 Granville, Ohio 43023

From Dawes Arboretum, turn left onto OH-13 north and drive 4.1 miles. Turn left onto Hopewell Drive and go 1.5 miles. Turn right onto OH-79 and drive 1.4 miles. Use the left lane to merge onto OH-16 west and drive 2.6 miles. Take the exit onto Granville Road and go 2.7 miles. Make a slight right onto East College Street and go .3 mile. Turn right onto North Pearl Street and drive .7 mile. Continue straight onto North Street and go .4 mile. Arrive at the Denison University Biological Reserve on the right.

There is parking at the entrance to the Reserve. Some of the trails are steep and can be slippery in wet or snowy weather. Trails are well-marked, but be aware that these trails are often used as training courses for cross-country runners and skiers.
From Margaret Bowman

Denison’s Biological Reserve was established by the Board of Trustees in 1966 through the efforts of Professor Robert Alrutz, who served as director until his retirement in 1990. The Reserve encompasses 350 acres in three contiguous sections that are within an easy walking distance of campus. Approximately 75% of the acreage is beech-maple/mixed mesophytic forest interspersed with old orchards and former plantations of pine, spruce, sugar maple and yellow poplar. Late successional habitats are characteristic of those disturbed by grazing over 50 years ago. In the Alrutz Section, three former agricultural fields are maintained in various stages of succession by seasonal mowing. Clay Run, along with four ponds, and seven natural springs provide habitat for aquatic organisms. The Reserve provides refuge for numerous amphibians, turtles, snakes, bats, rodents, flying squirrels, white-tailed deer, red fox, and over one hundred species of birds.

T. J. Evans Park, Newark

1480 Mount Vernon Road Newark, Ohio 43055

From the Denison University Biological Reserve, drive north on OH-661 for 1.8 miles. Turn right onto Cambria Mill Road and drive 2.4 miles. Turn right onto Welsh Hills Road for .1 mile. Turn left onto Price Road and drive 2.7 miles. Turn left onto North 21st Street. Turn right onto Mount Vernon Road and drive .5 mile. Arrive at T. J. Evans Park on the left.

Please note that this park is closed from January 1 through the end of February.

There are two entrances to the park, both east off of OH-13 north of Newark and south of the 21st Street traffic signal. There is ample parking at either entrance. The main features of this park are four old gravel pits, which are regularly stocked for fishing. However, the birding here can be excellent as the park edges border the North Fork of the Licking River, and brushy riparian habitat surrounds the pools. Warblers, thrushes, and orioles abound during migration. All the regular central Ohio nesters can be found here, as well as osprey and bald eagle.

Horns Hill Park

1250 Horns Hill Road Newark, Ohio 43055

From T. J. Evans Park, turn left onto OH-13 and drive .4 mile. Turn left onto Waterworks Road and go .5 mile. Turn left onto Horns Hill Road. Arrive at Horns Hill Park.

Horns Hill Park is a Newark city park located on Horns Hill Road.

Horns Hill Park is closed in winter. During the seasons when it is open, the entrance gate opens at 9 a.m. The gate at the exit is operated by a sensor. There is ample parking at the top of the hill in several locations. Best birds: warblers, during spring and fall migration.

Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve

2200 Gratiot Road Southeast Newark, Ohio 43056

From Horns Hill Park, turn left onto Horns Hill Road. Turn left onto Cedar Run Road and drive 1.6 miles. Turn right onto OH-79 and go 1.4 miles. Make a sharp left to merge onto OH-16 east and drive 8.4 miles. Take the OH-146 exit and proceed .25 mile to County Road 273. The preserve’s entrance and parking lot are 1.5 miles south on County Road 273 just outside of Toboso.

The main entrance near Toboso has a large paved parking lot and pit toilets. The west end of the Black Hand Gorge Trail has two gravel parking areas: the old one off of Brushy Fork Road and a new one just south of the bridge on Brownsville Road (County Highway 668). There is also a gravel parking area at the Marie Hickey Trail on Rock Haven Road. The Marie Hickey Trail is somewhat challenging, with some steep areas, but it yields excellent warbler birding in spring and fall. The Black Hand Gorge Trail is wheelchair accessible, and plans are in the works to re-pave it.

+ Geologically spectacular narrow sandstone gorge cut by the Licking River
+ Excellent display of spring wildflowers
+ 10 miles of trail including 4 miles of bike trail

The prime feature of this preserve is a narrow, east-west gorge cut by the Licking River through the famous Black Hand sandstone formation. It also boasts the only bike trail in Ohio’s state nature preserve system; more than 4 miles of bike trail wind through the preserve.

The preserve is rich in natural as well as early Ohio history. The name Blackhand, for which the preserve is named, originated from a dark, hand-shaped Indian petroglyph which was engraved on the face of a massive sandstone cliff along the north side of the river. The engraving was destroyed in 1828 when canal builders dynamited the cliff face, during construction of the Ohio-Erie Canal, which runs through the gorge. Sections of the canal towpaths and canal locks may be seen from the trails along the river.

The dry hilltops are dominated by oak-hickory mature woods along with Virginia pine and mountain laurel. Yellow birch, cherry birch, and eastern hemlock grow on northerly exposures. It is an excellent site for viewing woodland spring wildflowers.