Posted in Hiking, Park review, Southwestern Ohio

Estel Wenrick Wetlands

Estel Wenrick Wetlands is a 255-acre preserve that’s part of the Clark County Park District in southwest Ohio. Bob and I visited the preserve in late June of last year. As the park district makes clear, recreational use takes a back seat to preserving this high-quality wetland. Although there is a trail and even a boardwalk for the benefit of hikers and birdwatchers, portions of the trail are overgrown, and we encountered a couple downed trees stretching across the trail. But as you can see from the photos below, the preserve is a pretty place, and Bob and I both enjoyed it. If like us, you go during the summer, I highly recommend applying DEET, and once you’ve done that, apply DEET again. And if you decide to explore the more overgrown portions of the trail, I’d recommend wearing long pants to protect against poison ivy.

A very green stream; the green color is from the duckweed that was floating on the surface.

From the parking lot off of Union Road, there is a clearly marked trailhead. If you explore the entire trail, you’ll discover that it is a loop trail. The main portion of the loop is a wide, straight trail that was a rail bed for an interurban railway during the early, twentieth century. This portion of the trail is relatively easy to hike.

Entrance to the Estel Wenrick Preserve
The portion of the trail that lies on top of an old rail bed is wide, clear, and easy to hike.

Near this beginning of this part of the trail there was a ground cover of wild ginger.

Wild ginger

To the south of the rail-bed portion of the trail, there is a narrow, overgrown trail that leads down into and through the wetland. The hiking here is more challenging, but interesting. If you would like to leave the  rail bed portion of the trail to explore the wetland, you go down a narrow trail near the bench pictured below.

Behind the bench is the rail bed portion of the trail. In front of the bench there is a narrow, overgrown trail that leads through the wetland.

To give you an idea of how overgrown some portions of the trail were, here are a couple photos of the boardwalk.

Boardwalk at Estel Wenrick

And here’s an even more overgrown part of the boardwalk.

You might not realize it at first, but this is the trail. A boardwalk passes between the two trees pictured here.

And to think I forgot to bring my machete. emoji-doh As I noted previously, there were also a couple trees across the trail.

Tree down across the trail
Fruit-bearing Poison ivy
Bridge across a green stream

The green stream above is the same one featured in the topmost photo of this post. The green is from floating duckweed. Below you can see a bullfrog happily immersed in it.

Bullfrog amidst the duckweed
Bob standing by a Sycamore tree next to the trail. You can see he wasn’t following my “long pants” advice. 🙂
What wetland would be complete without skunk cabbage?
The trail was marked by red blazes
Here the trail passes through a grassy area.

Below are a few photos of areas with pooling, or slowly moving water. You can reach most of these wet areas from the rail bed portion of the trail without having to go through the weeds.

A stream without duckweed
Vegetation in creek
Looking toward the feeder creek

We saw quite a few damselflies during our hike. The ones pictured below are Ebony Jewelwing.

Male Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)
Female Ebony Jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata)

We also passed both flowers and fruit along the trail.

Prairie Rose; since I saw this in a wetland, I thought it might be a Swamp rose, but at the bottom of this post there is a link to an article the describes how to tell the two apart.
Tall bellflower (Campanulastrum americanum)
White sweet clover
Virginia Anemone – a bit past its prime

We followed the trail until we emerged in a small, municipal park in Medway, Ohio. Bob had packed a lunch for us in his daypack, and it was wonderful getting to sit at a picnic table while we ate it. The park had a couple interesting signs about historic people and places related to this part of Ohio. After eating we hiked back to the parking lot off Union Road, this time taking the easier portion of the trail located on the former rail bed.

The park in Medway where we had lunch at a picnic table.

The Mad River passes through the Estel Wenrick Wetlands, but it is quite a ways south of the trail, so it wasn’t visible to us while we were hiking. Had we been here during the spring, we may have been able to observe Great Blue Herons tending their young at the preserve’s heron rookery. According to prerserve’s official site, there are about 60 Great Blue Heron nests located in just two trees; the rookery is  visible from Spangler Road. Although we didn’t see this particular rookery, we have visited others and they are definitely worth checking out.

Among the 255 plant species growing in the preserve is one of North America’s rarest orchids, the eastern prairie fringed orchid (Platanthera leucophaea). Although we didn’t see it ourselves, I’ve linked to an illustrated article about it in Related reading below.

Surprisingly I didn’t uncover any information at the preserve, or at the park district’s website, explaining who Estel Wenrick is. I can only assume she either gave the land to the park district or was instrumental in some way in the wetland becoming a preserve.

Additional information


In the map below the red marker to the far right (east) is the park entrance. The blue marker to the far left is the small, municipal park where we had lunch.

View Larger Map

More on Clark County

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

2 thoughts on “Estel Wenrick Wetlands

  1. That’s quite a swamp – the vegetation looks as thick as the subtropics! It must provide sanctuary to many wet woodland specialist species.

    1. The vegetation was really lush; actually it was nice looking at the very green photos today since we’re currently blanketed in snow again. I’m happy to report that both of us managed to get through the preserve without getting poison ivy or ticks, so we had that going for us. 🙂 And you are quite right about the thriving plant and animal species there. I would have really liked to have seen the rare orchid, but I apparently didn’t know where to look to find it.

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