Portage County South 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.

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

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

Herrick Fen (TNC)

The Nature Conservancy 8260 Seasons Road Streetsboro, Ohio 44241

From Streetsboro, travel OH-43 south for 0.2 miles from its intersection with OH-14. Turn right (southwest) on Seasons Road. Follow Seasons Road 2.2 miles to a gravel lane on the left (east) side just past a railroad crossing. Gravel parking lot on right.

Herrick Fen is important for its tamarack fen and cinquefoil-sedge fen communities. The tamarack fen supports one of the few reproducing populations of tamarack in Ohio, the only native conifer in Ohio which sheds its needles each year. The cinquefoil-sedge fen contains an extensive population of bayberry, a state endangered plant found in only three locations in Ohio. The preserve provides habitat for over two dozen state-listed species.

Threats to the preserve include urban encroachment, siltation, and invasive non-native plant species such as buckthorn, cattail, and reed canary grass. Extensive and prolonged fluctuations in the lake level can negatively impact the fen community, especially the tamaracks which are sensitive to high water levels caused by beaver activity in the preserve.

The ecological goal for this preserve is to restore or maintain the biodiversity of the tamarack fen and cinquefoil-sedge fens through aggressive invasive species control and managing the water level of the lake.

Lake Rockwell

Ravenna, Ohio 44266

From Herrick Fen, drive south on Hopkins Road for .8 mile. Turn right onto Pierce Road and drive 1.2 miles. Continue onto Silica Road for .5 mile. Turn left onto Liberty Street and go .8 mile. Make a slight left onto OH-88 west and drive 3.1 miles. Turn right onto OH-303 west and go .6 mile. Turn left onto OH-88 west and drive 6.1 miles. Turn right onto Cleveland East Liverpool Road (OH-14) and drive 4.8 miles. Arrive at Lake Rockwell.

Lake Rockwell is the result of Lake Rockwell Dam on the Cuyahoga River in Portage County. Construction of Lake Rockwell Dam was completed in 1913.

The 539-acre lake is situated north of Kent and southeast of Streetsboro. Parking is limited; but the area can be excellent for waterfowl in migration and nesting species, including Bald Eagles, Blue-headed Vireos, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Pine Warblers and Northern Waterthrushes. Nearby and easily accessible Towner’s Woods also offers a good representation of summering birds that may include White-eyed Vireos, Veeries, Wood Thrushes, Blue-winged and Hooded Warblers and occasionally, Yellow-breasted Chats.

Towners Woods Park

2296 Ravenna Road Kent, Ohio 44240

From Lake Rockwell, drive southeast on OH-14 for .6 mile. Turn right onto Lake Rockwell Road and drive 2.6 miles. Turn right to stay on Lake Rockwell Road for .1 mile. Turn right onto Ravenna Road. Arrive at Towners Woods Park on the left.

Comprised of 175 acres of forest, wetlands, and meadows in Franklin Township, the park is the site of a 2000-year-old Hopewell Indian mound that overlooks Lake Pippen. In addition, Towners Woods boasts what many regard as one of the best cross-country skiing trails in Northeast Ohio and is adjacent to the Portage Hike and Bike Trail.

Kent State University--Kent Wetlands

Kent, Ohio 44242

From Towners Woods Park, drive southeast on Ravenna Road for .6 mile. Turn right onto Brady Lake Road for .1 mile. Turn left onto Lakeview Drive and go .4 mile. Turn left onto Leonard Street, then turn right onto Washington Street, and go .3 mile. Turn left onto Erie Street and go .1 mile. Turn right onto OH-59 west and go .8 mile. Turn left onto Rhodes Road and drive 1 mile. Arrive at the Kent Wetlands.

The Kent State University Board of Trustees designated a one-acre wetland study site on the Kent Campus as The Art and Margaret Herrick Aquatic Ecology Research Facility. The name honors the many contributions of Dr. J. Arthur Herrick, a professor emeritus of biological sciences, and his wife, Margaret H. Herrick, a professor emerita of speech pathology and audiology.

Mogadore Reservoir

Mogadore, Ohio 44260

From the Kent Wetlands, turn right onto Rhodes Road and go .3 mile. Turn right onto Horning Road and drive .8 mile. Turn left onto East Summit Street, then turn right onto OH-261 and drive 1.8 miles. Turn left onto OH-43 south and drive 5.3 miles. Arrive at the Cleveland Canton Road Boat House and Marina.

Mogadore Reservoir is owned and operated by the city of Akron. This reservoir was constructed in 1939, within the valley of the Little Cuyahoga River. The primary purpose of constructing this reservoir was to provide untreated water to the industries that were located downstream from the reservoir, as well as to afford flood protection to the Little Cuyahoga River Valley. The reservoir has a water surface of 1,104 acres. The maximum depth of Mogadore Reservoir is 24 feet. Mogadore Reservoir is not part of the domestic water supply for the city of Akron. Boats are allowed on Mogadore Reservoir, but they must be propelled by electric motors only. The fish populations in Mogadore Reservoir are managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

West Branch SP

5708 Esworthy Road Ravenna, Ohio 44266

From the Mogadore Reservoir, turn right onto OH-43 north and drive 3.2 miles. Turn right to merge onto I-76 east and drive 5.5 miles. Take Exit 38B for OH-5 and follow OH-5 for 6.2 miles. Turn right onto Rock Spring Road and go .3 mile. Arrive at West Branch State Park.

West Branch State Park in Portage County is situated on the glaciated plateau of northeastern Ohio. Although the land was uplifted as part of the Appalachian Mountain building process, the glaciers were able to override the gentle hills of the plateau. Huge ice blocks broke free from the glaciers and kettle lakes formed as the blocks melted. Eventually, these lakes filled with sediment leaving boggy wetlands with unique assemblages of plants. The West Branch area contains numerous bogs filled with buttonbush, alder, skunk cabbage and swamp white oak.

Another natural feature of the park is the stand of beech-maple forest. In pioneer times, the beech-maple belt in Ohio was very extensive and stretched across the plateau from Mansfield to Pennsylvania. These woodlands harbor a variety of plant and animal life. Woodland wildflowers such as Dutchman’s breeches, bloodroot, and trillium are found here. Red fox, skunk, opossum, and raccoon find the park’s habitat suitable. Songbirds occupy the leafy canopy of the woodlands while waterfowl and shorebirds dabble in the reservoir.