It’s finally summer in Ottawa County. And one of the best-loved pastimes of local residents during these warm weather months is to enjoy the beautiful nature that we are lucky to have in our backyard.
Whether you’re looking to hit the beaches of Lake Erie, take a hike along one of Ottawa County’s famed swamps and marshes, or wanting a relaxing weekend of camping, Ottawa County’s range of parks offers something for everyone.
Get outside with this list of nature preserves in Ottawa County!
Photo credit: Jeff Burcher
Magee Marsh is a 2,202-acre marsh located between Port Clinton and Oak Harbor off of SR 2. The area was permanently secured by the Ohio Division of Wildlife in the 1950s to preserve the area and protect the pristine wetlands from development. Magee Marsh is all that is left of the Great Black Swamp that once existed through most of northwest Ohio.
While the Magee Marsh Wildlife Area provides areas for walking and viewing a range of wildlife species, the marsh is famous for being one of the best place in all of North America to observe the annual migration of songbirds. The marsh is home to more than 156 species of songbirds that can be seen during the spring and fall migration. That’s why every year during the month of May, thousands of visitors from across the country travel to Northwest Ohio to participate in the birding trail, which serves as a main attraction for tourism in the Ottawa County area.
Learn more about Magee Marsh here.
East Harbor State Park
Photo credit: Ryan Miller
East Harbor State Park provides unlimited opportunities for outdoor recreation on the shores of Lake Erie. Visitors can enjoy swimming, boating, fishing, picnicking, and camping at this 1,831-acre state park. Nature enthusiasts enjoy East Harbor’s abundance of marine animals, shorebirds and other species of wildlife found in the park’s scenic wetlands.
East Harbor State Park is situated on a peninsula of land stretching into the waters of Lake Erie. A two-mile-long strip of beaches and dunes separates the harbor from the open waters of the lake. The harbor itself is the former mouth of the Portage River, which once crossed the Catawba Island peninsula to flow into Lake Erie before the glacial period of the ice age. Lake Erie was created when massive sheets of ice gouged and scoured the bedrock of Ohio. After the glaciers retreated 12,00 years ago, they left behind deep depressions that filled with meltwater, forming the Great Lakes. Evidence of the force of the ice is found throughout the lake area, including on Kelleys Island, where rare glacial grooves are visible in the rock.
Check out East Harbor State Park here.
Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge
Photo Credit: USFWS Midwest Region
The Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge is a beautiful part of the Ottawa County region, boasting wetlands, marshes, and forested habitats common to the Northwest Ohio area. Much of the Ottawa Refuge and the surrounding lands were once part of the Great Black Swamp, which has mostly dried up as a result of human settlement in the area. The refuge provides valuable habitat for a diversity of animals, including migratory birds, resident wildlife, and endangered and threatened species. It also provides a place for people to enjoy wildlife-dependent activities and learn about the complexities of the natural world through educational programming. The refuge plays an important part in protecting and maintaining a fragile area of the Great Lakes ecosystem.
Learn more about the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge here.
South Bass Island State Park
Photo Credit: Putinbayresort.com
Located far from the crowds of downtown Put-In-Bay, South Bass Island State Park sits at the end of Catawba Avenue and is the largest park on the island. The park offers a public boat launch located near the main picnic area, and boats can freely use this doc for lake access.
For visitors who don’t own a boat but want to participate in the fun, Put-in-Bay Watercraft Rentals, also located on the dock, offers affordable rentals for power boats, jet skis, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards. These crafts quickly sell out, so it is recommended that you make reservations to ensure that the equipment is available for your trip.
To the side of the dock is a beautiful pebble beach, which offers a picturesque spot for swimming. If you’re taking a day trip to the park, a picnic area is nearby with grills and a playground, perfect for families looking to get away for the day. Cabins and campsites are available as well.
Learn more about South Bass Island State Park here.
About Ottawa County It’s All Here
The Ottawa County It’s All Here campaign is sponsored by the Business Advisory Council (BAC), with the goal of highlighting everything there is to love about living, working, and playing in Ottawa County, Ohio. The BAC works with local businesses, schools, and community members to build up the community. You can learn more about BAC and the It’s All Here initiative here.