Lorain 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.

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

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

Sandy Ridge Reservation

6195 Otten Road North Ridgeville, Ohio 44039

From the intersection of I-80 and US-20, drive east on Center Ridge Road (US-20) for .4 mile. Turn left onto Case Road and drive 1.2 miles. Turn right onto Otten Road and go .5 mile. Turn right into Sandy Ridge Reservation and continue into the parking lot.

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.

Margaret Peak Nature Preserve

36585 Butternut Ridge Road North Ridgeville, Ohio 44039

From Sandy Ridge Reservation, turn left onto Otten Road and go .5 miles. Turn left onto Case Road and drive 1.2 miles. Turn left onto Center Ridge Road and drive approx. 1.5 miles. Turn right onto Maddock Road. Turn left onto Sugar Ridge Road. Turn right onto Avon Belden Road (OH-83). Turn right onto Butternut Ridge Road and arrive at Margaret Peak Nature Preserve on the left in .8 mile.

Eaton Township’s Margaret Peak Nature Preserve opened in 2009. It rapidly became known for grassland birds such as the Dickcissels, Field Sparrows, and Savannah Sparrow. Other highlights were Horned Larks, singing Indigo Buntings, Spotted Sandpipers and a family of Hooded Mergansers. Much of the preserve’s 98 acres are planted with soybeans, which provide a home for Killdeer, Spotted Sandpipers, and Horned Larks. Eaton Township has steadily added features and trails including three observation mounds and a woodland path.

Carlisle Reservation

12882 Diagonal Road LaGrange, Ohio 44050

From Margaret Peak Nature Preserve, drive northeast on Butternut Ridge Road for .5 mile. Turn left onto Alternate OH-83 for .3 mile. Turn left to merge onto OH-10 west toward Norwalk. Follow OH-10 for 2.5 miles. Continue onto US-20 west and drive 2.4 miles. Take the OH-301 exit toward Lagrange. Turn left onto OH-301 and go .4 mile. Turn right onto Diagonal Road and drive 1.5 miles. Turn right into Carlisle Reservation and proceed to the parking lot.

Carlisle is the largest of the Lorain County Metro Parks, encompassing 1,917 acres when included with Forest Hills Golf Course which lies at the northeastern end. Carlisle Reservation also offers a large variety of events and activities throughout the year and is home to the administrative offices for the entire park system.

Along with being the largest reservation in the Lorain County park system, Carlisle also has the most diverse natural habitat, including wetland, field, scrub/shrub, prairie, and forest. Much of this variety is due to its location along the transitional area between the great eastern forest, which once ran to the east coast, and the great western prairies which spread out to the Rocky Mountains.

The west branch of the Black River flows through the park and has created extensive wetlands and bottomlands along both its present and former paths, dominated by box elder, willow, walnut, sycamore, and cottonwood. On higher and drier ground, Carlisle’s forests include combinations of ash, elm, sugar maple, beech, red oak, basswood, tulip, and hickory.

Some notable species in the area include pumpkin ash, butternut, closed gentian and fox grape (native to Ohio and precursor to the modern grape)—altogether a wide variety of flowers and trees, many of which are on the special concerns list because they are quickly disappearing in Ohio.

Wellington Upground Reservoir

Jones Road Wellington, Ohio 44090

From Carlisle Reservation, turn right onto Diagonal Road and drive 7.1 miles. Turn right onto Webster Road and go. .5 mile. Turn left onto West Road and drive 3.6 miles. Turn right onto Jones Road and drive 3.1 miles. Arrive at the Wellington Upground Reservoir on the right.

Wellington Upground Reservoir is known primarily for the large numbers of waterfowl that stop in fall migration. Nearly every species of diving duck can be seen, sometimes at one time. Massive numbers of American Coots and Ruddy Ducks also gather in late fall. Common Loons can be expected, especially in April and November. Osprey and Bald Eagles are regular visitors.

Wellington Reservation

535 Jones Road Wellington, Ohio 44090

From the Wellington Upground Reservoir, turn right on Jones Road and then almost immediately turn left into the parking lot for the Wellington Reservation.

The Killdeer Loop and Prairie Circle trails give access to excellent wetland habitat. Park in the south end of the parking lot and access these crushed stone trails from the Lakeside Loop trail. Birding here involves a bit of walking but the habitat is excellent providing fairly close views to birds.

The 550 acre Wellington Reservation was developed in 2005 through collaboration between the Metro Parks and the Village of Wellington and provides opportunities for hiking, biking, strolling, fishing, boating, and wildlife observation. Over 4 miles of paved and crushed stone trails meander through the Wellington Reservation’s grassland fields and wetland habitats. The loop trail system can be used for non-motorized activity and is wheelchair and stroller accessible. Each loop highlights a different section of the park providing visitors with a variety of vistas across the lake, from atop an elevated observation mound, and throughout the intermittent wetlands in the grassland prairies.

Vermilion River Reservation--Bacon Woods

North Ridge Road Vermilion, Ohio 44089​

From the Wellington Reservation, drive west on Jones Road for .6 mile. Turn right onto Pitts Road and drive 1.4 miles. Turn left onto OH-18 west and drive 3.4 miles. Turn right onto OH-511 north and drive 7.9 miles. Keep left to continue on Vermilion Road for 7.3 miles. Continue straight onto North Ridge Ridge Road for .2 mile. Turn right and arrive at Bacon Woods.

Spanning two adjacent areas separated by the Vermilion River–Mill Hollow on one side and Bacon Woods on the other—Vermilion River Reservation is great for family picnics, and nature lovers.