If you are looking for a place for some great bird watching, or for just observing wildlife and nature in general, Bass Lake Preserve is the place to be.
In the 1800s, Bass Lake was popular for vacationing, swimming, boating, fishing, and many social events. In 1877, a hotel was opened on a point of land called “The Island” on the east bank of the lake. However, fire and poor finances ended the hotel era in the early 1900s.
The Trust for Public Land was the catalyst in preserving Bass Lake. Years ago, it purchased the Bass Lake property from the Burlington Group for approximately $5.75 million and transferred the ownership to Geauga Park District, which now manages and preserves the property as a park.
“We are thrilled to protect one of the most important natural resources in northeast Ohio,” said Christopher Knopf, Ohio Office Director for the Trust for Public Land. “This is a big win for everyone who is familiar with the beauty of Bass Lake, and an even bigger win for those who have yet to discover its treasures.”
This 606-acre preserve is nestled in the Bass Lake residential community in Munson Township. In the 1950s, members of this community started converting their summer homes into year-round residences. This land was not only being used for recreation, but also for farming and maple syrup production.
Park District Director Tom Curtin said, “Bass Lake offers excellent opportunities for enjoying nature and observing wildlife. Its preservation is critical to hundreds of species of fish, birds, and wildlife and even more important for water quality. Families can look forward to bird watching, fishing, and canoeing across the waters of Bass Lake.”
Bass Lake is a 160-acre natural lake on the Chagrin River. The shallow lake lies in an ancient glacial flat. Ninety percent of the shoreline consists of trees, shrubs, and marsh vegetation. The lake is largely surrounded by wetlands, which have protected the lake from shoreline development. The woodland surrounding the lake contains red maple, silver maple, swamp white oak, pin oak, and American elm trees. Some of the wildlife residing here are white-tailed deer, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, masked shrew, and northern long-eared bats.
Bass Lake Preserve provides ideal nesting grounds for birds that are not commonly seen nesting in our county such as yellow-bellied sapsucker and dark-eyed junco. We are even lucky enough to have a pair of American bald eagles nesting in the preserve. During spring and fall migration, Bass Lake is a very important stopover point for waterfowl and some neotropical songbirds. Check out this video below by Field Naturalist Tami Gingrich of a huge flock of tundra swans landing on Bass Lake in November.
Access to Bass Lake for boating and/or fishing is open to the public by permit only from dawn to dusk. Geauga Park District does restrict the number of boats permitted on the lake each day. To reserve a boat permit, click here. Shoreline fishing is not permitted. Fish may be taken only with rod and reel or cane pole. Geauga Park District encourages catch-and-release practices to help maintain a balanced and healthy fish population. Some fish commonly caught in Bass Lake are largemouth bass, yellow bullhead, bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, and white crappie. This preserve is also protecting Ohio’s last known indigenous population of brook trout.
Like several of the other parks I have featured, Bass Lake Preserve offers an indoor/outdoor shelter with an outdoor fireplace that is available to reserve. It is free to Geauga County residents with only a nominal heat fee in the winter months. There is a covered walkway to heated restrooms. View Bass Lake Lodge guidelines here. Click here to reserve the lodge.
“This is a tiny park with no trails and no plans to develop any, but bald eagle and osprey sightings are pretty common here, and some say it’s one of the most serene places to enjoy lakeside nature in Geauga County. You be the judge! (Also, another very, very popular place to reserve the shelter – and with good reason!)” ~ Sandy Ward, Geauga Park District
On our trip to this park last weekend, we did not see any birds, but we did hear them. They were singing away letting us know that spring is near. There was still a thin layer of ice on the lake, so I did not expect to see an osprey or the bald eagles out fishing here. I definitely plan to visit Bass Lake Preserve once the ice melts and hope to be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of some of those rare birds. You should stop by, pull up a park bench, and experience the beauty for yourself.
“Take a hike, bring your binoculars and your camera,
and enjoy what nature has to offer.”
Bass Lake Preserve
11445 Lakeview Road
The online home for Bass Lake Preserve, from which information for this article was obtained, can be found HERE.
Have you ever been to Bass Lake Preserve? Tell us about your experience below in the comments.