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Explore Seneca County’s parks and nature preserves: 10 spots to check out Staff




Now is the perfect time to get out and explore all of the natural beauty in Seneca County.

Get some outdoor relaxation, recreation, and exercise by checking out one (or more) of the many parks and nature preserves Seneca County has to offer.

This information and the attached photos are courtesy of the Seneca County Park District website.

Bowen Nature Preserve

11891 East County Road 24, Republic OH 44867

Bowen Nature Preserve became a reality in 2007 with a gift of 58 acres of land from Johnathan E. Bowen. In 2008, the six acres of woodland was donated by Jonathan’s parents, Yvonne J. and Norman Bowen. The Bowen name was well-known in West Lodi because Johnathan’s great-grandfather was Dr. Adelbert Bowen.

Johnathan lived on this farm in his early years with his parents and grandparents. After his grandparents, Merle and Louise Bowen, died, he acquired the farm.

As manager of this property, Johnathan developed a grass land and reinstalled the wetland to encourage the development of wildlife.

This property lies between County Road 38 to the north, County Road 27 to the east, and County Road 24 to the south.

Clinton Nature Preserve

400 E. Township Road 132, Tiffin OH 44883

The Clinton Nature Preserve and Sandusky River Access is a cooperative effort between the Seneca County Park District, Clinton Township Trustees and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The 33 acres of land leased from ODNR is comprised of parcels acquired by gifts from Burt Brickner and Izaak Walton League, as well as a purchase from Jim and Doris Wise.

The principal trail is located on Clinton Twp Rd 141. Previous to 1941, the road followed the Harrison Trail, which had been earlier developed as the Scioto Trail by Native American tribes. General Harrison moved his army along this trail in 1813 to the battle of Thames.

Because of repeated flooding, in 1941 the county commissioners moved the road 60 feet to the west and the Clinton Trail is location on this new right of way.

Forrest Nature Preserve

701 E. County Road 6, Tiffin OH 44883

The George Forrest family donated five acres of land in 2002 to the Seneca County Park District, which enabled the park district to secure a Clean Ohio grant to acquire a total of 23.5 acres.

An additional 23.4 acres was acquired in the same manner in 2011. This created our current 47-acre Forrest Nature Preserve.

Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve

6777 S. State Route 19, Bloomville OH 44818

Garlo Heritage Nature Preserve was created in 1997 when Dolly and Alma Garlo initiated the gifting of 256 acres of their family farm to the park district. The park is a living legacy in memory of doctors Olgier and Maria Garlo and their son Alex.

Olgierd and Maria immigrated from Communist Eastern Europe in 1948 and began acquiring this land in 1961.

Today, the preserve contains 292 acres of fields, wetlands and deciduous woods with 7.4 miles of developed equestrian and hiking trails.

Geary YMCA Fruth Outdoor Center

10130 W. State Route 18, Fostoria OH 44830

Geary YMCA Fruth Outdoor Center is 20 beautiful acres of camp facility southeast of Fostoria, and is home to the YMCA’s outdoor youth sports and other outdoor programs.

The facility has 10 acres of woods and 10 acres of open area with a picnic area, a shelter and Roppe Lodge, which has restrooms and electricity and is used as a rental hall for family reunions, graduation parties, and weddings.

The YMCA and park district team up on use of the outdoor center. The partnership allows the park district to use the center for wildlife and nature-based activities.

Mercy Community Nature Preserve

45 St. Lawrence Drive, Tiffin OH 44883

Opening in 2013 as part of the 100th anniversary of the founding of Mercy Tiffin Hospital, the hospital, in partnership with the park district, dedicated the 22-acre nature preserve to promote the health and wellness of Tiffin and Seneca County.

Through the pioneering efforts of the Sisters of Mercy, Ohio’s first Mercy Hospital was opened in Tiffin in October 1913.

Located on the hospital campus, the nature preserve includes a walking trail in a peaceful setting, a footbridge and a totem pole that marks the entrance. The area is designed to refresh body, mind and spirit.

Opportunity Park

780 E. County Road 20, Tiffin OH 44883

Opportunity Park became a reality in 2008 with funding assistance from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and is open to the public. Access is off South SR 100 and TR 151 on East CR 20.

The park, in a rural setting with adjacent farm fields, is on the grounds of Seneca County Opportunity Center which provides services to adults and children with developmental disabilities.

The park consists of an 820-foot full accessible paved exercise track along with paved trails surrounded by decorative bushes, trees and flowers. It has two picnic shelters and picnic tables, and a large, fully-accessible playground.

Steyer Nature Preserve

5901 N. County Road 33, Tiffin OH 44883

Steyer Nature Preserve became a reality in 2003 with a gift of land from Tony and Kathy Steyer. The gift, along with money from a Clean Ohio grant and an ODNR Scenic River grant, produced a park of 89 acres with almost a mile of Sandusky River frontage. With additional Clean Ohio and ODNR Division of Wildlife grants, the park has grown to 141 acres.

Local volunteers have developed 4.17 miles of trails with eight bridges over beautiful ravines.

The northern 71 acres is a non-hunting area, and is entered at the Abbott’s Bridge Scenic River Access parking lot off CR 33 at the Sandusky River.

The southern 70 acres is open to hunting in season and is connected to Sugar Creek State Wildlife Area with access off Pleasant TR 148.

Tiffin University Nature Preserve

2375 W. County Road 26, Tiffin OH 44883

Tiffin University Nature Preserve is a regionally significant ecosystem. It was dedicated June 5, 2007. The $1 million riparian restoration was made possible through a partnership between the university, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Seneca County Park District and state of Ohio.

The nature preserve features a 1.23-mile hiking trail focusing on a two-acre restored wetland and vernal pool complex that has enhanced biological diversity in Seneca County. The stream-side forested walkway is highlighted by three bridges, picnic areas and a gazebo.

The nature preserve provides a natural setting for university gatherings and learning experiences as well as providing access to natural areas for Tiffin and Seneca County residents.

Zimmerman Nature Preserve

680 E. State Route 18, Tiffin OH 44883

In 2006, then-director Roland Zimmerman was asked by Seneca County Commissioner Dave Sauber if the 5.5 acres of county property along Willow Creek could be developed into a nature preserve. The federal government, through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), had given the property to the county with the restriction that a natural area could be its only use. Preliminary plans were in place through the leadership from neighboring Autumnwood Care Center.

The nature preserve was cooperatively designed as a disability-accessible area. Funding through an Access to Recreation grant allowed further development in 2008-2009.

The park was named for former director, Roland Zimmerman in recognition of his dedication to the county parks and people with disabilities.