North Chagrin Reservation

North Chagrin Reservation

Willoughby Hills, Ohio 44094

Official Website
North Chagrin Reservation map

Tips for Birding

North Chagrin Reservation spans two counties. The northern portion is in Lake County, the southern portion is in Cuyahoga County. (See the map below for the location of the county line.) If you carefully keep your bird records by county, be aware of the location of the county line and use the appropriate hotspots for your checklists.

North Chagrin Reservation is part of the Cleveland Metroparks. It is approximately 1,700 acres in size, with an additional 200 acres comprising Manakiki Golf Course. North Chagrin Nature Center is located south (right) of Sunset Lane off of Buttermilk Falls Parkway. The nature center has maps, bird checklists, and naturalists that can provide information on the latest bird sightings.

North Chagrin Reservation is located on the Glaciated Western Allegheny Plateau, with the topography greatly influenced by the Chagrin River. The vegetation of the western section of the park, bounded by SOM Center Road, is a mix of managed meadow/old field habitat and second-growth forest with a few pine plantations. The area around North Chagrin Nature Center has a variety of habitats, including a pond and marsh. The middle section of the reservation consists of the western wall of the Chagrin River Valley. This section is bounded by Buttermilk Falls Parkway to the west and the Chagrin River Road to the east. It contains some large tracts of mature Beech-Maple Forest, interspersed with several deep Hemlock Ravines. The Chagrin River, with its associated oxbows and wetlands, makes up the remaining eastern section of the reservation. This lowland area has many managed meadows and tracts of mixed mesophytic and floodplain forests.

For the birder, the Beech-Maple and Hemlock Ravine areas offer the most interesting birding during the nesting season. One of the best examples of Beech-Maple Forest in Ohio is the A. B. Williams Woods. It is located at the south end of Buttermilk Falls Parkway and is accessed from the A. B. Williams Woods parking area. At the entrance to the woods is a section of wet forest that harbors red-headed woodpeckers most years. This is also an excellent area to look and listen for Pileated, Downy, Hairy, and Red-bellied Woodpeckers year round, and Acadian flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Great Crested Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Hooded Warbler and Scarlet Tanager in summer. Barred Owl is found regularly. Hemlock Ravine areas have nesting Dark-eyed Junco and (rarely) Winter Wren or Black-throated Green Warbler.

The bridge south of Sunset Lane on Buttermilk Falls Parkway is a good place to look and listen for Dark-eyed Junco, Acadian Flycatcher, and Louisiana Waterthrush in spring and summer. Another excellent area to look and listen for Hemlock-associated species such as Dark-eyed Junco is the White Pine Trail, which is reached from the Strawberry Picnic Area parking lot. The surrounding forests here also are good for Scarlet Tanager, Hooded Warbler, Wood Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, Acadian Flycatcher, Eastern Wood-Pewee, and Great Crested Flycatcher.

Birders should check the area around North Chagrin Nature Center for Red-shouldered Hawk, Wood Duck, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, and migrant waterfowl and land birds in the appropriate season. The cattails occasionally have migrant Sora and even American Bittern. The pine stands near the nature center have held summering Pine Warblers for several years. In migration and winter, check the feeders for sparrows and finches. White-winged Crossbill (very rare) has occurred here, as well as Purple Finch, Pine Siskin, Common Redpoll, and Evening Grosbeak. In summer, hummingbird feeders attract Baltimore Orioles and Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.

A managed field just North of Sunset Lane has been productive in the past few years (as of 2004) for a variety of migrant sparrows, including Savannah and Vesper. There are no trails into the meadow, but sections can be viewed from the paved trail that borders it to the east.

From the south, take I-271 to the Wilson Mills Road exit. Go right on Wilson Mills to OH-91 (SOM Center Road). Turn left and continue 3.5 miles to the park entrance, Sunset Lane, on the right. From the east or west, take 1-90 to the OH-91 exit (SOM Center Road). Turn left (south) and continue on SR 91 past Chardon Road. Look for the entrance on the left, about one mile past Chardon Road.

The park is open from 6 am to 11 pm daily. The Nature Center is open from 9:30 am to 5 pm daily.

Parking Areas: North Chagrin Nature Center, Buttermilk Falls, A. B. Williams Woods, Strawberry Picnic area, Squire’s Castle.

The North Chagrin Reservation is a stop on the Lake Erie Birding Trail.

Birds of Interest

Pileated Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Barred Owl, and Red-shouldered Hawk.
Wood Duck, migrant warblers, sparrows, and other land birds.
Dark-eyed Junco, Louisiana Waterthrush, Hooded Warbler, Acadian Flycatcher, Wood Thrush, Scarlet Tanager, Pine Warbler (rare), Winter Wren (rare).
Wood Duck, migrant warblers, sparrows, and other land birds.

About this Location

Since the 1920s, North Chagrin Reservation has been a special combination of outdoor recreation areas and wildlife sanctuaries. An interesting feature of the reservation is Squire’s Castle. Built at the turn of the century by F.B. Squire, it was to serve as the gatehouse of his country estate, but plans for the remainder of the estate never materialized.

Located in Mayfield Village, Willoughby Hills, and Gates Mills, the reservation includes a nature center and nature education building, a number of trails, and picnic areas. Sanctuary Marsh and Sunset Pond are both popular areas to observe waterfowl. The reservation is also home to Manakiki Golf Course, located off SOM Center and Eddy roads in Willoughby Hills.

The Nature Center overlooks Sanctuary Marsh, where native plants create a fine wetland community attracting a host of waterfowl, mammals, insects, reptiles, amphibians, songbirds and shorebirds. Marsh wildflowers bloom throughout the spring and summer. Take a trip across the 300-foot boardwalk for an especially beautiful experience. Nearby, Sunset Pond is known throughout the area as a home for Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, and rare black ducks. The trails surrounding North Chagrin Nature Center are paved for easy access to all visitors.

Located near North Chagrin Nature Center is the Nature Education Building. This satellite facility can be reserved by teachers as a field classroom. The facility is also open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from noon to 4:30 pm to park visitors. Enjoy the wildlife observation window, where one-way glass permits up-close observation of birds with an audio system that brings the sounds of nature indoors. Step into the Forest Nightlife exhibit where nocturnal animals and night sounds surround you. Live owls offer visitors the rare opportunity to learn more about these secretive nocturnal birds of prey.

Notable Trails

North Chagrin Reservation Trails
Trails in Cuyahoga County:
Nature Center Trails
Buttermilk Falls Trail – 0.4 miles
Sylvan Loop Trail – 0.4 miles
Museum Trail – 0.8 miles
Overlook Trail – 0.4 miles

Trails in Lake County:
Squires Lane Trail – 0.75 miles
Scenic Loop Trail – 1.6 miles
Castle Valley Trail – 2.25 miles
White Pine Trail – 1 mile
Chagrin River Trail – 1.1 miles
Lily Lagood Loop Trail – 0.2 miles
Hemlock Trail – 1.75 miles
Hickory Fox Loop – 1.6 miles

Trails with portions in both counties:
Buckeye Trail – 2.75 miles
All Purpose Trail – 4.2 miles
Bridle Trails – 10.3 miles

The AllTrails website has descriptions and maps of hikes in the North Chagrin Reservation.


  • Restrooms on site

Content from Official Website and Ohio Ornithological Society