Athens, Ohio 45710Lake Snowden Park website
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Athens County Birding Drive
Lake Snowden is the number one birding hotspot in Athens County. Owned by Hocking College, this 675 acre recreation park offers excellent birding throughout the year. There are two ways to access the park. Coming from Athens City, take OH-50 southwest about 6 miles and turn right at Enlow Road, take an immediate left and then another left past a small farm to where the road dead ends at the dam side of the lake. There’s a small gravel parking lot on the right. The fish hatchery ponds on the left are routinely flooded and drained and offer opportunities for show birds and waterfowl. The horse trail off to the right meanders up the hill and down to the lake and is good for warblers, sparrows, and flycatchers. A walk up to the dam might reward you with mergansers and teals along the shoreline or perhaps Common Loons in the middle of the lake.
The main entrance is about a mile further down OH-50. Once inside the park, turn left into the campground and park at the horse trail entrance where you’ll enter a more mature forest patch where Red-headed Woodpeckers are found. Further in, that trail opens up to a farm field on the left and a scrubbier area on the right where Bobolinks have been seen in the fall.
Other good birding spots include the boathouse/beach area which is great for winter waterfowl. While birding Lake Snowden, be sure to keep you eyes to the skies for Bald Eagles, Norther Harriers and perhaps a Peregrine Falcon.
Lake Snowden is a late fall Southeast Ohio hotspot, especially for migrating waterfowl including American Coot, Northern Shoveler, Common Loon, Ruddy Duck, and Grebes (Pied-billed and Horned). The bushes around the fish ponds have been very good for sparrows including White-crowned and Vesper, and also Wilson’s Snipe.
Lake Snowden was developed as a part of the Margaret Creek Watershed Project. The dam was completed in July 1970 across a branch of Margaret Creek. Recreation pool was achieved in April 1972. Lake Snowden provides flood control, water supply, and recreational benefits.
The watershed consists of rolling hills, woods, and open fields. The narrow ratio of watershed area to surface area provides good water clarity. Maximum water depth is 42 feet. The shoreline and bottom materials vary from silty clay loam to sandy loam soils. The deepwater structures are limited due to brush removal during the construction phase. Submerged trees, overhanging brush, and rooted aquatic vegetation provide shoreline habitat.
Lake Snowden is 6 miles southwest of Athens and 1 mile northeast of Albany, with access from US-50.
Content from Melissa Wales, Ohio Ornithological Society