Posted in Hiking, Northwestern Ohio, Park review

Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve

The Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve occupies 132 acres of Huron County. At one point it was named the Vermilion River Preserve, but it was renamed after the woman whose initial donation of land to the state made the preserve possible. Among other things the preserve is known for its large variety of spring wildflowers. We visited May 20th of this year with the hope of seeing some of the spring wildflowers.

Wild Hyacinth with the Vermilion River in the background




The entrance to the preserve is well-marked, and there is a kiosk near the parking area with a trail map. I’ve also included a GPS trace of our hike at the end of this post. You might note that the GPS trace doesn’t entirely match up with the official trail map even though we stayed on the trails. We explored the River Trail, the River Loop Trail, and part of the Old Field Trail

Entrance to the Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve
Trail Map of Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve

The Old Field Trail is a mown path that starts near the parking lot and soon leads around a small pond. There is a small office near the pond with no trail leading to it. I don’t believe the office is open to the public.

Looking across the pond back toward the parking lot
Office by the pond
Black locust tree coming into bud not far from the pond

After rounding the pond the Old Field Trail splits in two. We followed the northern branch that borders the woods.

This is where the Old Field Trail splits. We followed the left path next to the woods.

Because we were there in May some of the field grasses were in bloom.

The grass that is in bloom here is called “Timothy”.
A closer look at Timothy in bloom

A thorny shrub that pops up in many Ohio fields is black raspberry. This was also in bloom at Augusta-Anne Olsen.

Black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)
Black Raspberry bloom just opening (Rubus occidentalis)

I also noticed some chickweed growing near the field.

Chickweed (Stellaria) growing near the edge of the field

We took the first trail that led into the woods which took us on a short loop. We went through an area where a lot of trees had been cut down, possibly to combat Emerald Ash Borer. As the small loop turned and began to lead us back toward the field, we passed through a pine plantation.

First left into the woods from the northern branch of the Old Field Trail
Felled trees
Bob leading the way through the pine plantation
Almost back to the field

Once this short loop terminated at the field again, we took the Old Field Trail to its most eastward point. Here we had the option of choosing between two trailheads that lead back into the woods: the Sassafras Trail to the right or the River Trail to the left. We chose the River Trail.

Sassafras Trail to the right and the River Trail to the left. We followed the River Trail to the left.

The River Trail soon took us to a bluff overlooking the river.

Part of the River Trail follows a bluff over the Vermilion River. The river is below and to the right.
Peeking over the bluff

Eventually we descended down to the level of the flood plain around the Vermilion River.

At the level of the river
View of the trail on the flood plain

The photos of the flowers below were photographed on the flood plain along the River Trail and the River Loop Trail. One of my favorite flowers was the Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) like the one shown in the topmost photo of this post and the one below. Although I’ve seen this wildflower before, I had never seen so much of it at once.

Wild Hyacinth (Camassia scilloides)
A patch of Wild Hyacinth. Due to the lighting here, they are the white looking flowers.

Another treat for me was encountering a flower that I had heard of, but had never seen before: Oneflowered Broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). This strange little flower emerges out of the grown with no greenery whatsoever, so it is incapable of photosynthesizing. It is a parasitic plant that has to draw its nourishment from nearby plants. I thought it was so interesting that I wrote a post about it earlier here.

A group of flowering stalks of One-flowered Broomrape (Orobanche uniflora); the surrounding green leaves do not belong to the same plant and in fact might be host plants.

The following flower is a cultivated species that has escaped into the wild. It is Star-of-Bethlehem.

Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum). So who else thinks that the green and while bud in the lower left looks like a candy?

The following wildflowers are relatively common.

Wild Geranium
White violet
Phlox
Woodland Stonecrop
Common Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus)
False Solomon’s Seal (Maianthemum racemosum); the flower extends horizontally parallel to the ground.

I did see some Drooping trillium and Sessile Trillium, but these flowers were past their prime by May 20th, so if you’d like to see trillium you should probably visit in April.

At some point on the flood plain, we came to the River Loop Trail, and we followed it.

Sign announcing the River Loop Trail
There were views of the river from the River Loop Trail.
The River Loop Trail bends away from the river after a while. At this point I believe we are walking beside a feeder creek.
A little island
Another view of the trail
On our way back
Almost back at the field

Once we got back to the field, we returned to the parking area via the same northern branch of the Old Field Trail that we had followed on the way out.

What we missed

According to the official site, American chestnut trees grow near the River Trail and the River Loop Trail. I wasn’t looking for these, and I didn’t see them. The official site didn’t say whether these trees were blight-free, but that would be an impressive sight if they were. Almost all of the continent’s American chestnut trees were wiped out when a fungal blight was introduced to North America in 1904. In addition to missing the American chestnut, we also missed seeing one of the largest Sassafras trees in the state when we skipped the Sassafras Trail.

Additional information
  • TrekOhio: Huron County Parks & Nature Preserves; this is the county where the Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve is located. Check out this page for links to the official site and for information on nearby parks and preserves.




Location

The Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve is about one mile north of Wakeman, Ohio on West River Road (GPS Coordinates: N41.272791, W82.408279). You can see the location of the preserve and a trace of our hike on the Google Map below. If you click on the link to “View Larger Map”, you can get directions form Google by right clicking on the preserve entrance and selecting “Directions to here.”


View Larger Map

More on State Nature Preserves

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2012 to 2017


5 thoughts on “Augusta-Anne Olsen State Nature Preserve

  1. I like the photo where the trail splits and the wild flowers , especially the wild geranium and violet. You both look like you are in your element “in the woods.”

    1. Thanks, Jane. We loving being in the woods. 🙂 Speaking for myself, it’s a bit harder getting motivated to get out in the winter, but even then I typically enjoy it once I get there.

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