Taking in spring’s many splendors
At some point soon, the weather will be nice enough for spring wildflowers to start popping their blooms in the wooded areas of Seneca County.
Among the first to appear is great white trillium, Ohio’s state flower. The white flower features three petals and three leaves and is fairly common in all 88 counties.
Wildflowers that bloom in wooded area are known for their short lifespan. They must grow, bloom and set seeds all within the time when the forest floor gets warm enough for seeds to sprout and when the green canopy of new leaves begins to shade them too much.
Anyone who would like to see trillium, Dutchmen’s britches, marsh marigold or any number of other spring wildflowers has some great choices of parks and nature preserves to visit.
One of the best-known preserves to hike in spring is Howard Collier State Nature Preserve, a 115-acre state preserve on TR 38 not from far McCutchenville.
The natural area is a woods with large oak, sycamore, ash, tulip and cottonwood trees along the Sandusky River. Part of the 1 1/2-mile trail is a wooden boardwalk.
At this time of year, visitors can see spring wildflowers, including sharp-lobed hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, squirrel-corn, three trillium species, twinleaf, white and yellow trout-lily and marsh marigold.
Marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage on the floodplain usually is best to see in early May.
The preserve is three miles northeast of McCutchenville at the southwest edge of the county.
In addition to the state park, Seneca County parks offer a beautiful array of hiking trails where spring wildflowers can be found this time of year.
Steyer Nature Preserve at Abbott’s Bridge east of Fort Seneca offers several miles of hiking trails, which can be moderately challenging but offer some beautiful views of the Sandusky River, large trees and lots of wildflowers.
Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve, south of Bloomville on SR 19, offers trails around Olgierd Lake and some three smaller ponds. At this time of year, visitors can hear a cacaphony of birds, frogs and other wildlife as well as enjoy some beautiful wildflowers.
During a hike along Honey Creek at Forrest Nature Preserve, visitors also can find wildflowers and wildlife amid the serenity.
Although less numerous, hikers also can find spring flowers at Bowen Nature Preserve, West Lodi; Tiffin University Nature Preserve, Miami Street, just outside Tiffin’s city limits; and along the river at Clinton Nature Preserve, TR 132 off SR 53 North.
For a different kind of spring experience, take a walk on the boardwalk at Springville Marsh State Nature Preserve on TR 24 off US 23, north of Carey.
The 161-acre marsh provides views of a different type of environment coming alive in spring. About a milelong boardwalk runs through a section of the marsh.
As the largest inland wetland in the area, it is home to water-loving plants and wildlife. Some of them are threatened and endangered species in Ohio. Fen orchids, bottle gentian, Kalm’s lobelia and little yellow sedge can be seen along the boardwalk. One of Ohio’s largest populations of twig-rush, a typical Atlantic coastal plain species, is located throughout the preserve. There also are smaller areas of more northern plants.
An observation tower that used to be there is no longer usable.
In neighboring Crawford County, Sears Woods is another wooded area with excellent views of wildflowers along its boardwalk.
The 99 acres adjacent to the Sandusky River is an example of an old-growth forest that formerly covered much of the region. May is the best time to view wildflowers.
The preserve, operated by Crawford Park District, is a mile southwest of Bucyrus on SR 4, and then two miles west on Mt. Zion Road.
A little farther south is Kendrick Woods State Nature Preserve, operated by Allen County’s Johnny Appleseed Park District.
The 159-acre area contains hiking trails and is a great place for bird watching as well as seeing wildflower such as swamp saxifrage, Virginia bluebells, green dragon, fire pink and blue cohosh.
Near the southern end of area, a flowing artesian sulphur spring can be seen along the south tail, adjacent to Six Mile Creek.
Located about 10 miles west of Lima, take SR 81 west to Defiance Trail. The preserve is a half-mile north.
To the east in Richland County, Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve provides 187 acres of old-growth woods, a swamp forest and spring wildflowers.
In April, the area has a colorful display of marsh marigolds, and in May a diverse group of wildflower bloom including trilliums, violets, Dutchman’s breeches, jack-in-the-pulpit, spring beauty and phlox.
The preserve has a 1 1/4-mile loop boardwalk trail and an observation tower.
It is 13 miles north of Mansfield on Olivesburg-Fitchville Road off SR 13.
To the northwest in Fulton County, Goll Woods State Nature Preserve provides 321 acres of old-growth woods that show how the area looked during the time of the Great Black Swamp. It is the least disturbed woodland known to remain in extreme northwest Ohio and features some of the largest trees remaining in the state.
In addition to the more common wildflowers, visitors along the trails in Goll Woods can find spotted coral-root and three-birds-orchid.
The preserve is 1 1/2 miles north of Archbold. Take SR 66 north, then three miles west on TR F and a quarter mile south on TR 26.