Hamilton County Southwest 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.

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

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

Shawnee Lookout

2008 Lawrenceberg Road North Bend, Ohio 45052

From I-275 take the Kilby Road Exit and turn right onto Kilby Road for 1.3 miles. Turn right onto US-50 west and drive 1.7 miles. Turn left onto Lawrenceburg Road for .7 mile. Turn right to stay onLawrencburg Road and arrive at Shawnee Lookout County Park.

Shawnee Lookout is well known for its historical Springhouse School and Log Cabin, Indian archaeological earthworks and nature trails, including the 1.3-mile Blue Jacket, 2.0-mile Little Turtle, and the 1.4-mile Miami Fort trail that offers a spectacular view of the Great Miami River. Park also offers boat access to the Great Miami River, picnic areas, and playground.

Ulmansiek Wildlife Sanctuary is a 263-acre of seasonally flooded riparian habitat located along the Great Miami River and noted for the wide variety of migratory waterfowl that use it as a resting area. An additional 914 acres are wetlands located adjacent to the park and is protected through conservation easements. The area provides valuable habitat for a variety of wildlife.

Great Miami River--Lost Bridge

North Bend, Ohio 45052

From Shawnee Lookout County Park drive north on Lawrenceburg Road for 1.5 miles. Turn left to stay on Lawrenceburg Road. Arrive at Lost Bridge.

“Lost Bridge” is the unofficial name of the bridge over the lower Great Miami River, located on Lawrenceburg Road near Shawnee Lookout Park. Lawrenceburg Road crosses U.S. 50 in Elizabethtown, at the first traffic light east of the Indiana state line. The bridge is about half a mile east of U.S. 50. The current bridge is the fourth to occupy this site, each of which in turn has been called “Lost Bridge.”

Besides the Cliff Swallows which nest under the bridge, and the Bald Eagles which are often seen in the area, Lost Bridge has three areas which are seasonally attractive to birders. The bridge itself gives views of the Great Miami, which features gravel bars just under the bridge at low water. These are attractive to shorebirds during spring and fall migration – again, at low water. Just to the west of Lost Bridge, and on the north side of Lawrenceburg Road, is a gravel pit which attracts waterfowl in season. During the winter, this gravel pit is one of the last bodies of water to freeze, causing waterfowl to congregate here in large numbers. Finally, on the south side of Lawrenceburg Road is a shallow, dirt-lined pit, which attracts waterfowl, shorebirds, waders and swallows. The south side is being actively worked for topsoil by the owners, so it is questionable how long this feature will remain attractive to shorebirds.

Both sides of the road are posted private property, so all birding must be done from the road. Although there is ample room to get off the road, it is frequently used by heavy trucks, so some may feel uncomfortable birding here; the birding can be good, but you must be careful. Also, the road is occasionally closed when the Great Miami floods.

This is a worthwhile stop on its own, which has produced rarities such as Piping Plover, and which should always be checked when going between the Oxbow and Shawnee Lookout.

Kilby Rd. Gravel Pits, Smith Tract

Kilby Road Harrison, Ohio 45030

From Lost Bridge drive northwest on Lawrenceburg Road for .7 mile. Turn right onto US-50 east and drive 1.7 miles. Turn left onto Kilby Road and drive 2.8 miles. Arrive at the Kilby Road Gravel Pits.

Kilby Rd. Tract, just about 2 miles south of the Campbell Lakes Preserve along Kilby Road and the Whitewater River has been acquired by the Hamilton County Park District. The site is signed as a Hamilton County Park District preserve but is so new that the tract has not been developed or much publicized to date. The area consists of approximately 300 acres located on both the east and west side of Kilby Road. Part of the property was a former gravel mining operation and the acreage includes several large ponds or gravel “pits”. Most of the habitat here is open and scrubby grassy fields and the habitat and birds are similar to those at the Campbell Lakes Preserve with the notable exception of Grasshopper and Lark Sparrows. As many as 6 singing male Grasshopper Sparrows were present the past two summers and breeding was confirmed. In the summer of 2008, a pair of Lark Sparrows nested here. Blue Grosbeaks are also regularly found here during the summer and at least two pairs have nested. Blue Grosbeaks are actually uncommon to locally fairly common summer residents throughout the Great Miami and Whitewater River valleys. They seem to have a particular affinity for abandoned gravel pits and other scrubby disturbed habitats in this region.

Kilby Ponds are located in western Hamilton County. Take I-275 Kilby Road Exit # 21. From the cloverleaf exit ramp turn left (north) onto Kilby Road and go north on Kilby about 1.7 miles to a small Parking Lot on the right (east) side of the road. Be advised that this parking lot is poorly marked. There is a Hamilton County Park District sign, but it can be easily missed. Look for a beige colored utility barn that sits a bit off the road.
From Birding Cincinnati

Campbell Lakes Preserve

Kilby Road Harrison, Ohio 45030

From the Kilby Road Gravel Pits, drive north on Kilby Road for 1.9 miles. Turn left onto Campbell Road and arrive at Campbell Lakes Preserve.

An Ohio fishing license is not required to fish at these four lakes. Bank fishing and licensed car top boats such as canoes, kayaks, and jon boats are permitted; motors are not allowed.
From Campbell Lakes Preserve webpage

Mitchell Memorial Forest

Mitchell Memorial Drive Cleves, Ohio 45002

From Campbell Lakes drive southeast on Campbell Road for .2 mile. Turn left onto Kilby Road and go .1 mile. Turn right onto Simonson Road and drive .5 mile. Turn left onto Dry Fork Road for .2 mile. Turn right onto Harrison Avenue and drive 4.9 miles. Turn right onto East Miami River Road and drive 1.1 miles. Turn left onto Gum Run Road and go .4 mile. Turn right onto Buffalo Ridge Road and drive .8 mile. Turn left onto Zion Road for .1 mile. Turn right onto Doty Road and arrive at Mitchell Memorial Forest in .3 mile.

This park offers over 8 miles of challenging mountain bike trail, a 1.0-mile Wood Duck nature trail, the River Hill “catch and release” fishing pond, playground, picnic areas and the reservable Pine Meadow Youth Camp. Pets and motor vehicles are prohibited on the mountain bike trail.
From Mitchell Memorial Forest webpage