Posted in Geology, Hiking, Northeastern Ohio, Park review

Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve

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 22-acre glacial kettle.

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.

The trail head for Glacier Trail is through the stone entry way.
The *Glacier Trail*

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.

Bob on the observation deck at Lake Kelso. You can see some of the interpretive signs along the railing.

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.

Crossing Old Rider Road, which is a gravel road
Dogwood in blossom
More blossoms…
Tree Swallow parents at nesting box
A tree swallow showing off its iridescent plumage

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.

I believe that low ridge with the two trees on it is a moraine.
Red-winged blackbird in the meadow
Dried teasel above, dandelion puffs below

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.

Kettle Trail; Wild Calla Kettle lies to the left
The wetland is to the left.
Wild Calla Kettle
Canada mayflower in bud

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.

Spring peeper clinging vertically to a maple leaf.
What a small frog it is!

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.

Additional information

  • Address: 15681 Old Rider Road, Burton, Ohio 44021
  • GPS Coordinates: 41.442686, -81.180962
  • Google Maps: View on map or get directions

More on Geauga County

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

One thought on “Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve

  1. How interesting post full with cool, enjoyable photos. I think that it would be nice to walk around there with some nice coffee in a thermos bottle – to stop in some nice place and enjoy the life around the man.

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