Gallant Woods Preserve is part of Delaware County’s Preservation Parks system. In contrast to many of the parks that we have discussed which are tourist attractions in their own right, Gallant Woods is more of a local community resource. It consists of 231 acres of mixed habitat including old growth woods, a wetlands woods, a meadow that’s being converted into prairie, and glacial moraine. There’s now 1.8 miles of developed trail with more trails planned for the future. The existing trails are all loops, so it would be possible for joggers to up their mileage by doing multiple loops.
Public restrooms with plumbing are attached to the picnic shelter. A children’s playground is nearby, and there are plans to expand it. In the fields near the shelter there are a number of nesting boxes for tree swallows. When I was there May 9th, I could see swallow couples inspecting nesting boxes in preparation for setting up household.
I’ve been to a number of Delaware County’s Preservation Parks, and people are allowed to walk their leashed dogs on nearly all of their trails. The Park District provides “mutt mitts” at the beginning of the trail to make it easier for people to clean up after their dogs, and from the looks of things they do. And since there are typically trash cans at different places on the trail, often the pet owner can discard their little package while on the trail instead of carrying it with them for its entire length.
During my visit there was still no foliage, so there was a lot of light reaching the forest floor, and there were a lot of wildflowers. Among the wildflowers I saw were spring beauty, cut-leaf toothwort, violets, and blue phlox.
In Ohio when you come across a large boulder in a field or woods, you are usually seeing a little bit of Canada that was carried here during the last ice age.
Most of the trees that I saw were relatively immature since this apparently is recovered pasture land. However I did occasionally see a large tree like the white oak below. The park description provided by the county says there are old growth trees here, and I don’t know if they were referring to these, or to some other part of the forest where there aren’t trails now.
While checking out the trees, this enormous bug caught my eye nestling within the bark.
When it occurred to me later that it was a cockroach, I fainted. Seriously, I am so accustomed to thinking of cockroaches as nasty, household pests that it didn’t even occur to me that I might see one in its natural habitat.
After walking the Acorn Trail through what’s known as “Charlotte’s Woods” (Charlotte Gallant donated the initial park land), I went on Pheasant Run Trail through meadows, crossing what were once the tree line bounding farm fields. The mixture of trees and meadows makes for great bird watching. The Park District is in the process of converting meadow into prairie. This is done by eliminating non-native plant species.
I’m not sure exactly what happened below, but this “path” if it actually is one, is basically from the tracks of tractor wheels. I don’t know if I had accidentally strayed from the real path, or whether this just had been mown yet. However I will say in passing that walking through such narrow passage ways amongst tall grass is exactly how ticks latch on the people. Note how wide the path was before… that’s what a good, meadow path should look like.
As I made my way through the meadow, I occasionally reached clearings where I had a good view of the neighboring farms.
I grew up in a rural area, and I still like seeing farms. 🙂
Then I had one last walk through the woods as Pheasant Trail passed through Walter’s Grove. There was a lot of wildflowers here, most notably blue phlox. In the photo below the little light spots on the forest floor are wildflowers.
Near the end of my circuit I passed by a man-made hill, “Buttermilk Hill”, which was made for sled riding. Having spent somewhere near a bazillion hours sledding as a child, I heartily approve! I swung by for a closer look.
Opposite the sledding hill is a small marsh. While I was there the Park District was in the process of constructing a deck which would serve as an overlook of the marsh. It should be a good vantage point for bird watching later on.
I plan on coming back later this summer. Although spring is a great time to see woodland wildflowers, the meadow wildflowers should be in full bloom in the summer. According to an interpretive sign, I should be able to see Purple Coneflowers, Indian Grass, Little Blue Stem, Royal Catchfly, and Stiff Goldenrod (sorry, hay fever sufferers 🙁 ).
- TrekOhio: Delaware County Parks & Nature Preserves — This is the county where Gallant Woods Preserve is located; check out this page for official links and for information on nearby parks and preserves.
Address: 2150 Buttermilk Hill Road, Delaware, Ohio 43015
GPS coordinates: 40.351123,-83.11473
View or get directions from Google Maps.