Ashtabula, Ohio 44004Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge (Ashtabula Visitors Bureau) webpage
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Indian Trails Park
The Indian Trail Park trail map shows the path birders may take from the Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge. The trail is roughly 60% paved blacktop, with a handful of cleared, not too rough to walk, dirt trails. The spot I had the most species at was at the very end of the dirt trail, where the river bends and you can continue no further. (Belted Kingfisher, Song Sparrows, Red Bellied Woodpeckers, White-breasted Nutchatch, Herring Gulls, Canadian Geese, and a very playful bunch of Eastern Bluebirds accompanied by a Downy Woodpecker).
The best parking area is to drive to the Overlook at Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge and continue through the parking lot following the downhill road, which loops around to a lower parking area. There are plenty of spots available to park, and it is not too heavy with foot traffic. From the parking area, immediately north is a small outlook of the Ashtabula River I had a Bald Eagle Flyover, a handful of American Crows and a small patch of Song Sparrows there. From the parking area there is a walking path South which leads into the Indian Trails, across the Lower Footbridge, follow the blacktop all the way. The path goes through a lush woodland lot. Plenty of Sycamore, Northern Red Oaks, American Beech, Black Cherry, Skunk Cabbage and Day Lillies to name a few of the species I noticed.
Best time to visit is early morning or dusk. I would go with binoculars over packing a scope in and out, simply because there are not a lot of area that you would need longer optics.
The longest covered bridge in the United States is of Pratt Truss construction. Engineering and structural design by John Smolen (former County Engineer) and architectural design by Timothy Martin (current County Engineer) the bridge was dedicated August 26, 2008. The bridge is 613 ft. long and stands 93 ft. above the Ashtabula River. With clear width of 30 ft. and height of 14 ft 6 in. it will support full legal load traffic and has a life expectancy of 100 years.
There is an Educational and Informational pavilion for Indian Trails Park near the Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge. The pavilion was built with all volunteer labor and was funded by several sponsors. Laminated colorful panels include information on the Ashtabula Scenic River, The Ashtabula Township Parks, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Lake Erie Scenic By-way, Covered bridges around the county, museums and historical facts.
The gulf region of Indian Trails Park covers 369 acres as it stretches from the Penn Central Railway in the north to the National Guard rifle range in the south, winding its way with the Ashtabula River. Since the advent of new roads, it has stayed pretty much a natural area. Previously, when State Road was the main byway and when the road to Main Street followed along East 51st Street through a covered bridge in the gulf, a lot of traffic passed through the area. The little league park had its beginnings in 1949 when the first ball field was constructed there. Since that time, it has grown, but in fact, is not under the township’s control. The group is allowed to use the land for its purpose on the condition it maintains the area. The archery club operates under the same setup. The grounds for camping trailers were first established in 1968. The purpose was simply to provide revenue for the maintenance of the lands.
There is an Educational and Informational pavilion for Indian Trails Park near the Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge. The pavilion was built with all volunteer labor and was funded by several sponsors. Laminated colorful panels include information on the Ashtabula Scenic River, The Ashtabula Township Parks, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, The Lake Erie Scenic By-way, Covered bridges around the county, museums, and historical facts.
Content from Smolen-Gulf Covered Bridge (Ashtabula Visitors Bureau) webpage, Indian Trails Park webpage, and Steven Klingler