Akron 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.

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

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

Silver Creek Metro Park

5000 Hametown Road Norton, Ohio 44203

From I-76, take Exit 11 for OH-261. Turn right onto OH-261 and go 0.2 miles. Turn right onto South Medina Line Road and drive 3.1 miles. Turn left into Silver Creek Metro Park.

The 895-acre Silver Creek Metro Park is tucked away in a quiet, rural area near Norton. Observant visitors will see traces of the past. Open fields, fence rows, and a stately old barn, part of which dates back to the Civil War, are evidence of the park’s former life as the Harter Dairy Farm. Other secrets are less visible. Buried beneath the surface is a maze of tunnels and shafts – remnants of a 19th Century mining operation.

The one-time farm has changed a great deal since Metro Parks acquired the land in 1966. Thousands of trees have been planted, and the bathhouse and 50-acre lake – fed by a spring from an old mine near Wall Road – were built in the early 1990s.

Today, iron-laden water from the mine shafts feed into Silver Creek, coating the bottom of the stream with reddish-brown iron oxide, yet fish, frogs, and other animals thrive. The open fields are home to woodcocks, meadowlarks, and eastern bluebirds. Many butterflies flutter among the flowers and grasses. Hawks circle overhead to hunt rabbits, mice, and voles living in the grasses and weeds below. Deer travel among the woods, fields, and wetlands. Tall sycamores grow in soggy areas, and hickory woods grow in drier spots. The beech-maple woods contain spring wildflowers. One of the largest northern red oaks in Summit County – 20 feet in circumference – stands in this park.

Firestone Metro Park

Coventry Oaks Area: 40 Axline Avenue Little Turtle Pond: 2400 Harrington Road Sled Hill Drop-off: 55 East Warner Road Tuscarawas Meadows Area: 2620 Harrington Road Warner Road Area: 200 East Warner Road Akron, Ohio 44319

From Silver Creek Metro Park, turn left on South Medina Line Road and go 0.9 miles. Turn left onto Eastern Road and drive 0.5 miles. Turn left onto OH-585 north and go 0.9 miles. Use the left lane to Merge onto OH-21 north and drive 2.8 miles. Take the exit onto I-76 east and drive 5.1 miles. Keep left at the fork to continue on US-224 east and drive 2.2 miles. Take Exit 3 for South Main Street. Turn right onto South Main Street and drive 0.9 miles. Turn left onto East Warner Road and go 0.4 miles. Turn left into parking for Firestone Metro Park.

Dairy cows once grazed the hillsides of the area known today as Firestone Metro Park. In 1949, Metro Parks received a gift of 89 acres from the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company. Acquisitions of nearby parcels expanded the park to 258 acres.

In 1956, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources completed the construction of a nearby dam, intended to create a reservoir for industrial water needs. As the reservoir of the adjacent Firestone Golf Course filled, the water table rose downstream, forming the large wetland and marshy meadows of Firestone Metro Park. Along with the Tuscarawas River and Tuscarawas Race, which once channeled water to the Ohio & Erie Canal, the area is home to fish, crayfish, frogs, and turtles.

The meadows and forest shelter foxes, coyotes, raccoons, skunks, muskrats, rabbits, mice, voles, and moles, along with many beautiful summer and fall wildflowers. More than 175 bird species have been sighted in Firestone Metro Park, including various types of wrens, thrushes, warblers, woodpeckers, herons, and ducks. A number of different raptors, including bald eagles, have also been spotted.

Springfield Lake

Lakemore, Ohio 44250

From Firestone Metro Park, turn left on East Warner road and go 1.3 miles. Turn left onto South Arlington Road and drive 0.7 miles. Turn right onto Krumroy Road and drive 1.9 miles. Turn left onto Hilbish Avenue and go 0.5 miles. Turn right onto Lake Road and go 0.5 miles. Continue onto Lakeside Drive and go 0.2 miles. Arrive at Springfield Lake.

Springfield Lake is located in southeastern Summit County and is immediately south of US-224, 1 mile east of OH-241, and 0.25 miles west of OH-91. The entire lake is surrounded by Springfield Township and the village of Lakemore.

Springfield Lake is one of the few natural lakes found in Ohio. The lake, which is fed by an underground spring, is known as a “kettle hole” lake, which is representative of the melted remnants of a glacier left from the last ice age. This 290-acre lake has a maximum depth of 27 feet. Motorized boats are allowed, with motors up to 250 horsepower allowed from 10 a.m. until 7 p.m., and 10-horsepower-motors allowed at all other times. The fish populations in Springfield Lake are managed by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Springfield Bog

1400 Portage Line Road Akron, Ohio 44312

From Springfield Lake, turn left onto Lakeside Drive and go 0.3 miles. Continue onto Sunnyside Avenue for 0.1 miles. Turn left onto Sanitarium Road and drive 2.3 miles. Turn right onto Portage Line Road and drive 0.5 miles. Arrive at parking for Springfield Bog on the left.

Springfield Bog Metro Park opened on January 5, 2011, and it is our first “Watch Us Grow” opportunity. Over the next few years, visitors will see quite a change as more than 40 varieties of prairie plants transform the former farmland. The result could be a birding hotspot, attracting bobolinks, meadowlarks, rails, and other grassland nesting species.

So why a prairie? Ohio’s earliest land surveys showed prairies near bogs on the Continental Divide. The park’s natural features include Young’s Bogs – formed after glacial depressions filled with water and sphagnum moss formed dense, floating mats of peat – and the Divide, which causes water to the north to flow to Lake Erie, while water to the south flows to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.

The bogs were named for the Young family that settled here in 1877. These wetlands once produced a growth of huckleberries that drew enthusiastic pickers all the way from Canton, Akron, and points north via the Akron-Canton Interurban Railway. Commercial picking stopped sometime in the 1950s.

Nimisila Reservoir

Akron, Ohio 44319

From Springfield Bog, drive south on Portage Line Road for 0.7 miles. Continue onto Tisen Road for 0.7 miles. Turn left onto Canton Road for 0.2 miles. Thur right onto Killian Road and drive 3 miles. Turn left onto OH-241 and drive 1.5 miles. Turn right onto OH-619 (East Turkey Foot Lake Road) for about 1 mile. Turn left onto South Arlington Road and drive 2.5 miles. Turn right onto East Nimisila Road and go 1 mile. Arrive at Nimisila Reservoir.

Nimisila Reservoir is located in southeastern Summit County and is approximately 2 miles south of OH-619, 2 miles east of OH-93, and 2.5 miles west of OH-241. The entire lake is surrounded by county roads.

Nimisila was constructed during 1936 and 1937 by the Ohio Department of Public Works, with labor supplied by the WPA Its primary purpose at that time was to maintain a constant water supply in the Portage Lakes for industrial use. A gate valve at the northwestern end of the lake regulates the amount of water that is released into the Portage Lakes. This 742-acre lake is part of Portage Lakes State Park. The maximum depth is 30 feet.

Portage Lakes State Park--Turkeyfoot Lake

Akron, Ohio 44319

From Nimisila Reservoir, turn left onto Christman Road and drive 1.2 miles. Turn left onto East Caston Road and go 0.5 miles. Turn right onto South Main Street and drive 1.6 miles. Turn left onto West Turkeyfoot Lake Road and drive 1.1 miles. Turn left onto Lahm Drive and go 0.7 miles. Arrive at the Turkeyfoot Lake area of Portage Lakes State Park.

There are a number of eBird hotspots at Portage Lakes. Explore as many as you have time on this trip.

The Portage Lakes are a group of reservoirs in Northeast Ohio. The name comes from an old Indian portage path that connected the Cuyahoga River flowing north to Lake Erie and the Tuscarawas River, a tributary of the Muskingum River, which flows south to the Ohio River. This proved advantageous for the Indians and early settlers as navigation from Lake Erie to the Ohio was possible with only an 8 miles portage overland. Portage Lakes State Park lies at one of the highest points of the state and on a major watershed divide in Ohio. Some water from the lakes reaches Lake Erie and some flows to the Ohio River.

In 1825 the Ohio Legislature appropriated funds for the construction of a large network of canals and reservoirs to supply water for the canal system. The Portage Lakes, a series of lakes south of Akron, was created as part of this network of water supply reservoirs. They were formed by the construction of dikes and dams to raise the water levels of some of the swamps and small lakes typical of this heavily glaciated southern part of Summit County.

The use of the Portage Lakes as a water supply for the canal system ceased in 1913 when the canal was abandoned as a means of transportation. However, during this period the rubber industry was expanding in Akron, and the demand for industrial water increased. The Portage Lakes and a portion of the canal system were used to meet the water demands for industrial development along the canal and Summit Lake. During the dry years of the early 1930s, the Portage Lakes were drawn down to such an extent that a new reservoir – Nimisila – was built to direct water from Nimisila Creek into the Portage Lakes.

The Portage Lakes are at three topographical levels. Long Lake, the lowest lake, was formed by flooding a swamp area that had a small pothole lake at its south end. North Reservoir and the middle level were formed by a dike flooding a flat area of land and a small pothole lake known as Hower Lake. At the highest level, and impounding the largest acreage of water – 1,192 acres, are three separate reservoirs: East, West, and Turkeyfoot. Turkeyfoot Lake is connected to West Reservoir by a channel. West Reservoir overflows into North Reservoir and is connected to East Reservoir by a channel. East Reservoir has a control structure from which water is released into a channel that flows into Long Lake.
Turkeyfoot Lake: 483 surface acres – 12.6 feet average depth
West Reservoir: 105 surface acres – 11.3 feet average depth
East Reservoir: 208 surface acres – 14.8 feet average depth
North Reservoir: 165 surface acres – 10.0 feet average depth
Long Lake: 231 surface acres – 16.3 feet average depth