Vermilion River Reservation--Bacon Woods

Tips for Birding

Down in the valley of the Vermilion River, a leafy glen invites unusual nesting species for Lorain County and northern Ohio. One of the earliest species to return in April is yellow-throated warblers, which sing loudly from the tops of sycamores lining the river. Later, cerulean warblers, blue-winged warblers, and redstarts set up their nesting territories; while rarer warbler species, like golden-winged, occasionally drop in during migration.

For the best birding, turn north of North Ridge Road into the Bacon Woods section of the Vermilion River Reservation. Drive to the north end of the parking lot, and you may hear yellow-throated or cerulean warblers calling before you even get out of the car.

A wide, flat, packed-gravel path, popular with dog-walkers, heads north through the deep woods, with bluebells lining the path. This .85-mile-loop Bacon Woods Trail is easily traversed, while further paths that wind around a field (.7-mile-loop Bluebird Trail) and deeper into the woods (1.4-mile-loop Coopers Hollow Trail) are sometimes muddy. The trails are consecutive, so to walk the entire Cooper’s Hollow Trail, one also walks the Bacon Woods and Bluebird Trails, for a total round-trip of nearly 3 miles.

An unofficial “fisherman’s trail” hugs the riverbank and can be good for birders in April and May. It’s sometimes tricky to walk because it’s not maintained, and downed trees, mud, and steep portions can be an obstacle to some.
From Diana Steele, Ohio Ornithological Society Northeast Regional Director

Bacon Woods is the larger, more natural, part of the Vermilion River Reservation, which was the first Lorain County Metro Park. (The smaller part is called Mill Hollow and is mostly given to historic buildings and picnic areas.) Less than 10% of Bacon Woods is developed, with picnic and open recreation areas and an amphitheater. About 5% is a managed meadow and the rest is bottomland deciduous forest. A tornado in 1992 knocked down many trees and the replacement growth gives a variety of vegetation ages. The mix of river, meadow, and woods gives a bird list approaching 175 species.

From the farthest north parking area, the Bacon Woods Trail is a wooded 0.85 mi. loop; the short Sycamore Trail makes it a rough figure eight. The Bacon Woods Trail leads to the Bluebird Trail, a 0.70 mi. loop most of which skirts the edges of the meadow. At two points if offers an overview of a secondary channel, usually dry, of the Vermilion River. The 1.15 mi. Coopers Hollow Trail branches from the northernmost point of Bluebird (there is no sign at the junction) and becomes a loop. It is entirely wooded and follows the riverbank for part of its length.

The Bacon Woods Trail is crushed stone with two boardwalks over intermittent watercourses. Bluebird is mowed grass, a boardwalk, and packed earth; in spring parts may require wading in standing water. The Coopers Hollow Trail is packed earth and may also be very muddy in spring. The trails are open to leashed pets but closed to bicycles.

From Vermilion: Go south on OH-60 for about three miles from the center of town. Turn left onto Trinter Road (TR-68). At the “T” intersection, turn left onto North Ridge Road. Immediately after crossing the Vermilion River, turn left into the park entrance.
From OH-2: Exit at Vermilion and Sunnyside Road; you can only go south. At the “T”, turn right onto Jerusalem Road. At the next “T”, turn left onto Vermilion Road. At the next “T”, turn right onto North Ridge Road. The park entrance is on the right just before the Vermilion River bridge.
From the Ohio Turnpike: Exit at Baumhart Road, Exit 135. Turn left (north) on Baumhart to North Ridge Road. Turn left onto North Ridge and follow it to the park entrance, on the right just before the Vermilion River bridge.

Open 8:00 am – 4:30 pm November through April; 8:00 am – dusk May through October; closed Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Parking: A few slots near the entrance give access to the river at the bridge; the large far northern lot gives access to the trails.
From Ohio Ornithological Society

Birds of Interest

Winter birds are limited to resident raptors (at a minimum, Red-shouldered and Cooper’s Hawks and Barred Owl) and the typical wintering deciduous-forest birds of northern Ohio.
Raptors; passerines including flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, warblers, and sparrows.
Breeding birds include the above raptors, many woodpeckers and flycatchers, vireos including White-eyed and Yellow-throated, several swallows, House Wren, Eastern Bluebird, warblers including Blue-winged, Cerulean, and Hooded, several sparrows, and Baltimore Orioles.
Fall migration is similar to spring.

About Vermilion River Reservation

Spanning two adjacent areas separated by the Vermilion River, Mill Hollow on one side and Bacon Woods on the other, the Vermilion River Reservation is great for family picnics and nature lovers.

If you’re looking to picnic in a beautiful place with plenty of activities for both adults and children, this is an ideal place to come. The Vermilion River Reservation draws over 230,000 people a year, making it one of the most popular picnic areas in the Lorain County Metro Parks system. It’s not surprising considering the spotless maintenance, plenty of open space, 5 miles of wooded trails, two playgrounds, and two ponds that attract visiting waterfowl year-round.

The Vermilion River Reservation is known as a habitat for bald eagles and several other wildlife. These magnificent creatures can be seen almost daily at Mill Hollow, perched in one of the tall trees near the center of the park. Local wildlife sightings include Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, and various geese and ducks.

Wildflower lovers come from all over in spring and early summer to see the color and variety of these indigenous species which include Dutchman’s Breeches, Bloodroot, and Virginia Bluebell along with an extensive list of other species found throughout northeast Ohio.
From Vermilion River Reservation webpage