Geauga Park District
The Geauga Park District, among the Ohio Metroparks, manages a system of nature preserves scattered throughout Geauga County, Ohio. The network of 18 open parks, other preserves and future parks encompass nearly 9,500 acres (38 km2) and includes hundreds of miles of walking, bicycle and horse trails, picnic areas, two nature centers and abundant fishing holes.
The park district is operated by a three-member Board of Park Commissioners, each appointed to three-year terms by the Geauga County Probate Judge. According to Chapter 1545 of the O.R.C., the Board is empowered by state law to hire professionals to manage park property, acquire land, designate law enforcement officers, and levy taxes to fund its operations. To sell or lease land, the Board must gain approval of the Probate Judge. The Board must maintain accurate and permanent records of its proceedings and is subject to open records laws in Ohio.
In 1959, the Geauga County's League of Women Voters and several local garden clubs began to explore the creation of a park district modeled after neighboring Cleveland Metroparks in order to preserve natural areas and protect animal habitats in Geauga County. The Geauga Park District was established in August 1961 under authority of Ohio Revised Code Chapter 1545 http://codes.ohio.gov/orc/1545 by Geauga County Probate Judge Robert B. Ford. The first park operated was a 4-acre park on Woodin Road in Chardon Township.
The first employee of the district was Donald W. Meyer, who served as the agencies director from 1965 to his death in 1987. The districts administrative and nature center at Big Creek Park in Chardon Township bears Mr. Meyer's name.
The park system has completed thousands of programs for the public and continues to do so both on and off site. The rich base of volunteers and the expertise of the naturalist staff makes these programs possible and they continue to be a staple in the community. Members of the community are encouraged to reserve the many lodges and shelters scattered throughout the parks for meetings, parties, and family reunions. Big Creek, Chickagami, and Headwaters park all have camping reservations available year round and provide lean-to sites and tent pads. Rooms available at the Meyer Center and The West Woods Nature Center also provide space for county groups and organizations to host meetings.
Parks, Reservations and Preserves
|Reservation||Acreage (Hectares)||Notes||Park Amenities||Map or Directions|
|Bass Lake Preserve||606 acres (245 ha)||Located in Munson Township, the park is along the Chagrin River and includes a natural lake formed by glacial activity. The area is surrounded by wetlands and a forest of red maple, silver maple, swamp white oak, pin oak and American elm with natural diverse wildlife, including migrating waterfowl, neotropical songbirds, and native brook trout,||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, indoor lodge, boating, and fishing.||Directions|
|Beartown Lakes Reservation||149 acres (60 ha)||Located in Bainbridge Township and Auburn Township. Features include three interconnected lakes and pond forming 22-acre open waters, migrating waterfowl, bass, northern pike and bluegill, diverse wildlife, and 70-acre mature beech-maple forest.||Picnic areas with open-air shelters, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, horse trails, fishing, and winter sledding.||Map|
|Bessie Benner Metzenbaum Park||65 acres (26 ha)||Located in Chester Township. Natural habitat of diverse wildlife in a mature beech-maple forest and natural creek with wetlands.||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, playground, hiking and cros-country skiing trails, and geocaching.||Map|
|Big Creek Park||642 acres (260 ha)||Located in Chardon Township, the Donald W. Meyers administrative building and nature center is located here. The area is surrounded by a mature beech-maple forested land with streams. Home to a certified Monarch Waystation butterfly garden.||Picnic areas with open-air shelters, playground, four primitive campsites, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, horse trails, and fishing.||Map|
|Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve||287 acres (116 ha)||Located in Burton Township and Newbury Townships, the preserve is a portion of the 1,000-acre Cuyahoga Wetlands. The area includes glacial kettle bogs, lower slope seeps, and wet flats formed in the last glacial ice age. The parks neighbors include the White Pine Bog Forest, owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, and Fern Lake, owned and managed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.||Hiking and cross-country skiing trails.||Map|
|Chickagami Park||139 acres (56 ha)||Located in Parkman Township, the park is a former Boy Scouts of America campground. Chickagami is a Native American word meaning “camp by the lake.” Located at the headwaters of the Grand River, the area includes wetlands, streams, uplands, and beech-maple forests with diverse wildlife.||Picnic areas with open-air shelters, hiking trails, and group camp sites.||Directions|
|Eldon Russell Park||132 acres (53 ha)||Located in Troy Township along the Upper Cuyahoga River, a designated Ohio Scenic Rivers. The park's landscape is characterized by kames ( knolls of sand and gravel) and kettles (depressions) formed by melting glacial ice. Currently, the area includes wetlands and a swamp forest of elm, ash, silver maple and swamp white oak with diverse wildlife.||Picnic areas with open-air shelters, playground, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, boating, and fishing.||Map|
|Frohring Meadows||298 acres (121 ha)||Located in Bainbridge Township, the park features a 100-acre prairie and trails through red and sugar maples, beech, black cherry, tulip, red oak, ash, and hickory woodlands. The prairie includes warm season grass species such as Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem, Indian Grass, and Switch Grass.||Picnic areas with open-air shelters, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and bicycling.||Map|
|Headwaters Park||926 acres (375 ha)||Located in Huntsburg Township and Claridon Townships, the park is the site of a 420-acre reservoir formed from a glacial lake along the east branch of the Cuyahoga River. The area is surrounded by a beech-maple forest, meadows, and evergreen plantations. The park is home to diverse wildlife and is a stop-over for migratory waterfowl, including loons, tundra swans and ducks.||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, primitive camping, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, horse trails, bicycle trail, boating, fishing, and geocaching.||Map|
|The Maple Highlands Trail||12.4 miles||Located in City of Chardon, Hambden Township, and Claridon Townships, the trail consists of two sections, a 4.2-mile trail on the north side of Chardon from the Lake-Geauga line to Chardon, and an 8.2-mile trail from Chardon to Headwaters Park. A 7-mile trail will extend from Headwaters Park to Parkman when completed.||Hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and bicycling.||Map|
|Mountain Run Station||32 acres (13 ha)||Located in Hambden Township, the park provides access and parking for the Maple Highlands Trail.||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, hiking and cross-country skiing trail, and bicycling.||Directions|
|Observatory Park||1,100 acres (450 ha)||Located in Montville Township, the park is currently under construction. The park is home to the Warner and Swasey Observatory, formerly the Nassau Station for Case Western Reserve University. Observatory Park protects the watershed of the Cuyahoga River, and holds a diversity of habitats, such as old growth forest, wetlands, and open fields.||When complete, will include observatories and hiking trails.||Features|
|Orchard Hills Park||237 acres (96 ha)||Located in Chester Township, the park is the site of a former golf course that currently being reclaimed and reforested to its original beech-maple forest ecosystem. The park includes headwater streams and wetlands for the Chagrin River.||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, indoor shelter, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, bicycling, and winter sledding.||Map|
|Sunnybrook Preserve||73 acres (30 ha)||Located in Chester Township, the park is dominated by unique wetlands, including a fen, which is fed by alkaline, mineral-rich groundwater that was formed by glacial deposition. This fen is home to several “listed” species, including the American Cranberry Bush, which is an “endangered” species in Ohio. Also includes sedge grass meadow and a conifer forest that is home to diverse wildlife.||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, indoor shelter, hiking, and cross-country skiing trails.||Map|
|Swine Creek Reservation||412 acres (167 ha)||Located in Middlefield Township and Parkman Townships, the park includes mature forests of walnut, sycamore and cottonwood trees, meadows, streams, and diverse wildlife.||Picnic areas with open-air shelter, indoor shelter, playground, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, horse trails, and fishing.||Map|
|The Rookery||562 acres (227 ha)||Located in Munson Township, the park is parallels the Chagrin River at the sight of the abandoned Interurban Railroad Junction. The wetlands are located in an ancient glacial lakebed and are home to a large colony of great blue heron and diverse wildlife. The picnic area is surrounded by brush land, as well as a beech-maple forest.||Picnic areas with indoor shelter, playground, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and bicycling.||Map|
|The West Woods||902 acres (365 ha)||Located in Russell Township, the park protects the historic sandstone ledges of Ansel’s Cave, Silver Creek, wetlands, and mature forests. The park includes many tributaries to the Chagrin River and is home to diverse wildlife.||Picnic areas with open-air shelters, hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and horse trails. The park is the site of West Woods Nature Center.||Map|
|Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve||101 acres (41 ha)||Located in Munson Township, the park is the site of a manmade 30-acre lake that is home to diverse wildlife including waterfowl.||Hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and fishing.||Map|
|Whitlam Woods||141 acres (57 ha)||Located in Hambden Township, the park is characterized by a deep Hemlock ravine surrounded by a mature beech-maple forest and diverse wildlife.||Hiking and cross-country skiing trails, and geocaching.||Map|
- The West Woods Nature Center is located in the West Woods Park.
- The Donald W. Meyer Center is located at Big Creek Park.
- "Ohio Laws and Rules". Ohio Revised Code. State of Ohio. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- "Geauga Park District". About. Geauga Park District. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- Frischkorn, Jeffrey L. "Geauga Park District prepares to mark 50 years". The New-Herald. The News-Herald. Retrieved 2011-09-09.
- "Big Creek Park". Donald W. Meyer Center. Geauga Park District. Retrieved 2011-09-09.