A Diverse Habitat and Over 500 Species

The next park to be featured in my series is Sunnybrook Preserve. In 1928, this property was purchased to establish a family business and to provide the children of the family “a chance at productive living outdoors.” The Ruh family ran Sunnybrook Farms Nursery for decades. In 2001, a conservation easement was placed on their property to protect the land for generations to come. The Western Reserve Land Conservancy purchased the land and sold 72 acres of it to Geauga Park District to be used as a public park.

Sunnybrook Preserve

The habitat at Sunnybrook is quite unique. This park features a sedge grass meadow, a conifer forest, a ravine, a cool spring, and a fen (a shrub-meadow habitat that is fed by cold, alkaline (high pH) springs seeping through gravel deposits). All of these types of terrain provide homes to a very diverse list of wildlife and plant life, even some that are endangered or threatened. Some examples of endangered or threatened species found at Sunnybrook are the American Cranberry Bush and Water Avens. Also, there are some pollution-sensitive fishes found in the cool waters of the spring here (pictured below).

threatened species

Southern Redbelly Dace & Redside Dace

In 2007, Geauga Park District’s annual Bioblitz was held at Sunnybrook. A Bioblitz is an attempted inventory of all living organisms in a given area during a given amount of time (usually 24 hours). To see the full list of living organisms found at Sunnybrook Preserve, click here.

There are three trails totaling 1.7 miles at this park: Pine Ridge Trail, Woodland Trail, and Jumping Mouse Loop. The Pine Ridge Trail is paved and fully accessible through the forest and nearby wetlands. The Woodland Trail loops through several forest habitats, even passing by a vernal pool on the way back to the parking area. Take the Jumping Mouse Trail to extend your hike an extra half mile. Download a trail map here.

There is a fantastic shelter at Sunnybrook with both an enclosed space with heaters and an open air section with a fireplace. Sunnybrook Lodge is available by reservation or on a first-come, first-served basis. Here are the lodge guidelines. There is no running water inside the lodge. Click here to reserve this shelter. Rental is FREE to Geauga County residents with the exception of a nominal heat fee in the winter months.

Sunnybrook Lodge - inside with heaters available
Sunnybrook Lodge – inside with heaters available
Sunnybrook Lodge - outdoor fireplace
Sunnybrook Lodge – outdoor fireplace



[This video is from 2010. Naturalist John Kolar invites you to come along as he listens for the Voices of Nature at Sunnybrook Preserve. To see more videos from the Geauga Park District, click HERE]

park bench in the woods.

Take a hike, bring your binoculars and your camera, and enjoy what nature has to offer.

Sunnybrook Preserve
12474 Heath Road
Chester Township

The online home for Sunnybrook Preserve, from which information for this article was obtained, can be found HERE.

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News