Burton Wetlands is a 305 acre preserve in Geauga County whose terrain was shaped by glaciers during the most recent Ice Age. Most notably there are two glacial kettles in the preserve. A glacial kettle forms when a glacier calves over a land surface (that’s when a huge chunk breaks off). As the glacier recedes and the calved ice melts, a lake takes its place. The plants living in and around the glacial kettles of Ohio would normally be found farther north in Canada. They are living remnants of Ohio’s icy past.
Lake Kelso is a short walk from the parking lot (0.22 miles, 0.35 km). To get there go through the stone entry way and follow the Glacier Trail. This will lead you through a woods of relatively immature trees. Surprisingly the site’s restroom (a porta-potty) is located near the lake rather than the parking lot.
To protect the delicate environment around the lake, the trail turns into a boardwalk as you approach the lake. There is a large observation deck at the end of the boardwalk with many interpretive signs.
Although one of the interpretive signs spoke of an osprey platform, neither of us could spot one at the lake, nor did we see any osprey.
After checking out Lake Kelso, we walked back to the parking lot, crossed to the other side of Old Rider Road, and picked up Kettle Trail. This loop trail passes by the smaller of the preserve’s two kettle lakes, Wild Calla Kettle. The outer loop is just 1.12 miles (1.8 km).
We were there on May 18th of this year, and it was a lovely time to visit. A number of trees and shrubs were in blossom. There were also many nesting boxes for tree swallows, and we had many occasions to watch the parent swallow feeding its young through the hole of the nesting box.
Kettle Trail began as a mown path through a meadow. The path was wide and well-maintained. We passed by low, rolling hills that I believe are moraine left behind by a melting glacier. These are ridges of debris dumped by glacier as it melted.
Eventually we entered a woods and soon came within sight of the second kettle, Wild Calla Kettle. Wild Calla Kettle was smaller and more shallow than Kelso Lake. Wild Calla Kettle is also heavily covered with aquatic plants, so it looks green from a distance.
Another treat for me while we were walking through the woods was catching sight of a Northern spring peeper. This is a common tree frog in Ohio, but despite its numbers its something that I usually hear, not see.
Since this is a small park, it didn’t take long to see it, but it made for a pleasant walk. Due to the sensitive area of the wetlands here, no fishing or boating is permitted. During you can cross-country ski on Kettle Trail. The park is owned and managed by the Geauga County Park District.
- TrekOhio: Geauga County Parks & Nature Preserves: this page links to the preserve’s official sites and provides information on nearby parks, too.
- TrekOhio: Ohio Geology in 10 Minutes or Less – this page provides some more information on the impact of glaciation on Ohio.
- TrekOhio: Review of Boyer Nature Preserve: Boyer Nature Preserve also contains a glacial kettle; in this post I go into more detail about such lakes are formed.
- Wikipedia: Kettle (landform)
The Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve is located at 15681 Old Rider Road, Burton, OH 44021. You can use the map below to get directions to it from your point of origin.