Are you interested in waterfowl? You know – ducks, geese, swans, and other aquatic birds. Walter C. Best, the founder of the nearby Best Sand Corporation, built a 30-acre lake because of his interest in waterfowl. When he passed away, his wife Edna May donated the lake and surrounding area to Geauga Park District.
Best Lake is a very busy place (for the birds, at least) during the spring and fall migrations. More than 100 types of birds have been seen in this park. Some not-so-common waterfowl that you may spot here are grebes, mergansers, gulls, loons, terns, and herons. Bald eagles have been known to visit Best Lake on occasion as well. Bluebirds, tree swallows, and wood ducks find shelter in various nesting boxes in the preserve. If you are lucky, on early spring evenings, you may be able to observe the aerial courtship display of the male American woodcock.
Some other wildlife that you may come across while at Best Preserve – woodchuck, squirrel, chipmunk, deer, raccoons, beaver, red fox, mink, voles, muskrat. A patch of tall-grass prairie has been planted near the waters edge using Ohio seeds where butterflies, hummingbirds, and other fascinating insects are often seen nectaring on flowers.
Best Lake has quite a few fishing platforms (8 to be exact) along its shoreline, and because it is stocked, anglers are welcome to take their fish home for dinner. Gamefish include largemouth bass, yellow perch, channel catfish, bluegill, and other sunfish. Just note that boats are not permitted on this lake. Anglers must have a current Ohio fishing license.
Go Take A Hike
A relaxing stroll, a power walk on your lunch break, a quick run, or a dog walk – you can do all these things on the paved trails at Best Preserve. The Goldenrod Trail (.5 miles), Cattail Trail (1 mile), and Waterfowl Walkway (.1 miles) are all wheelchair accessible. Waterfowl Walkway takes you to a wildlife observation blind with benches to sit, relax, and enjoy wildlife activity. Download a brochure and trail map here.
If you have read any of my previous park features, you know that we have some pretty great shelters that are reservable for FREE for Geauga County Residents. Sunset Shelter at Best Preserve is also reservable. This open air shelter has plenty of picnic tables perfect for a family picnic or gathering.
[Check out Naturalist John Kolar as he takes you on a journey around Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve and shows you what you might find on your visit to this park. He is such a character.
He is definitely NUTS……about nature!]
I have been to this park several times with the kids that I babysit. They enjoyed stopping at EVERY fishing platform to look in the water for any fish that may be swimming underneath. The bridge that goes over a portion of the lake was a big hit with the kids as well. We spotted quite a few types of birds and fish. We were there in the early spring, so it was too cold to see any butterflies, or insects. With spring right around the corner, this park is sure to be buzzing with wildlife activity very soon. Check it out for yourself!
“Take a hike, bring your binoculars and your camera, and enjoy what nature has to offer.”
Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve
11620 Ravenna Road
The online home for Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve, from which information for this article was obtained, can be found HERE.
Have you ever been to Walter C. Best Wildlife Preserve? Tell us about your experience below in the comments.