Marblehead Lighthouse State Park is a 9 acre state park containing the oldest lighthouse in continuous operation in the United States. The lighthouse is located on the Marblehead Peninsula on the shoreline of Lake Erie.
The Lakeside daisy is Ohio’s rarest, native plant species. This plant only grows in four areas. Its largest population is in Ohio’s Marblehead peninsula, part of Ottawa County. This is where the Lakeside Daisy State Nature Preserve is located. Lakeside daisies are also found in Michigan’s upper peninsula, and in Ontario, Canada they can be found in the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island.
A trio of Lakeside daisies (Hymenoxys herbacea).
These two, large outcroppings are across the creek from Gorge Trail
Two thousand years ago, the Hopewell people built a massive earthwork enclosing a 40-acre hilltop in southwest Ohio. This earthwork which resembles a fort was later dubbed Fort Hill.
Fen habitats are America’s most diverse habitat for vegetation, and many rare plants are found in fens. A fen is a type of wetland formed when water bubbles up from an underlying aquifer via an Artesian well or seep. In the case of Gallagher Fen, the water emerges from a hillside seep because two aquifers intersect nearby increasing the underground water pressure. Since the water is emerging from deep within the earth through limestone gravel dumped by glaciers during the last Ice Age, the water is very alkaline and very cold, about 56 degrees year round.
Although it is a wetland, it is difficult for many plants to absorb the very cold water. So ironically drought-tolerant prairie plants thrive in fen meadows. Many of the plants found in local fens moved into the area when there were glacially fed lakes in Ohio. As the glaciers retreated these plants were unable to tolerate the warmer weather, and they disappeared from Ohio, but pockets of them remained in these scattered fens. Outside of Ohio’s fens you would have to go to northern habitats like northern Michigan or Minnesota to find other representatives of these plant communities.
A boardwalk leads visitors around the edge of Gallagher Fen.
Glen Helen began when alumnus Hugh Taylor Birch donated a wooded glen to Antioch College in 1925 in memory of his daughter, Helen. The college continued to acquire adjacent land over the years, and the Glen Helen Nature Preserve now encompasses 1000 acres and 25 miles of hiking trails. The preserve is managed by the Glen Helen Ecology Institute. Within the preserve there is a yellow spring that has given its name to the town where the college and preserve are located. The preserve also includes limestone cliffs, waterfalls, 400-year old trees, 69 species of wildflowers, 153 species of birds, a Hopewell Indian mound and much more.
At a separate entrance to the preserve there is a Raptor Center that admits about 150 to 200 injured birds per year. The Raptor Center is able to rehabilitate about half of these birds to the point where they can be released back to the wild. Birds that are permanently handicapped live in large, outdoor cages on the premises.
One of the cascades on Birch Creek; the footbridge above the falls connects the Inman Trail on the left with the Birch Creek Trail on the right.
I was delighted at how many species of wildflower were in bloom at Fort Hill this past weekend. We saw many of the same flowers that appeared in April Wildflowers at Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve. So rather than posting duplicate flower photos, I’ll just post ones that were newly seen at Fort Hill.
Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Located in Franklin and Delaware counties, Highbanks Metro Park is 1,159 acres in size with over 10 miles of hiking trail, including a 3.5 mile, mowed path that’s available for dog walking and cross-country skiing. The park is bounded on one side by the Olentangy River, and it’s crisscrossed by small streams flowing in ravines.
One of our favorite attractions is an observation deck that’s perched on a shale bluff 110 feet above the Olentangy river. For a number of years a pair of eagles have nested in a large sycamore tree just upstream from the observation deck. We’ve watched from the deck as an eagle flew over the river beneath us. If you direct your attention upstream, you can often spot an eagle perched on a tree on either side of the river. The eagles have become the park’s most famous residents. It’s easiest to catch sight of them before foliage appears on the trees, and for a better view I recommend bringing binoculars, or a spotting scope.
We are looking down towards this eagle from the observation deck.