In 1926, it was Samuel Livingston Mather’s intention to create a high class resort on 1000 acres of land in northern Geauga County. Even though the Depression ruined those plans, Mather still wanted to preserve this land. Half of the property was donated to the State of Ohio in 1955. About 35 years later, Geauga Park District obtained ownership of the 505 acres from Mather and several adjoining parcels, bringing the total to 624 acres.
Big Creek Park has a variety of options for all-season fun. The Donald W. Meyer Center is open year-round, with the exception of cold-weather weekends, offering a large meeting room, exhibits, a wildlife feeding area, and an outdoor amphitheater for various programs and events. This park also has four primitive camping sites, a 6.4-mile network of trails, three ponds for fishing, bridle trails, and three picnic shelters.
Camping at Big Creek Park is available by permit throughout the year. For more information on camping here, download the Camping Brochure. Two of the four primitive sites have a lean-to with a fireplace. Restrooms are available nearby as well.
Three picnic shelters are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but can also be reserved. Click here to find out how to reserve one of the shelters at Big Creek Park. I attended a graduation party at the Maple Grove Shelter a few summers ago. There was plenty of parking and seating. A grill was available, restrooms were close by, the kids had a small playground to play on, and we were able to set up a volleyball net. Everything is back in the woods, so it was cool and shaded. Access to several trails was located just behind the shelter. Did I mention shelters can be reserved for FREE by Geauga County residents?
The trails at Big Creek Park are perfect for hiking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, dog walking, and a couple are even wheelchair accessible. The Buckeye Trail passes through a portion of Big Creek Park. You can download a brochure and trail map here.
Anglers can enjoy fishing in the Chestnut, Wild Goose, and Tupelo ponds for bluegill and bass. A current Ohio fishing license is required, and fish may only be taken with rod and reel or a cane pole. Boating and wading are not permitted.
[Field Naturalist Tami Gingrich talks about some different amphibians that you might find this time of the year in the vernal pools around the parks. Click here to see more videos by the Geauga Park District]
Most of the property here is covered in beech-maple woods. Spring’s wildflowers will be abundant in the upcoming months. Big Creek and its many streams zigzag through the valleys and wetlands. The forest is home to many woodland animals including several species of songbirds that migrate from the tropics to nest here.
A certified “Monarch Waystation” has been established near the Meyer Center as well. The butterfly garden attracts many types of hummingbirds and butterflies all summer long, even into the fall. I am excited to check out their “waystation” since my yard is also a certified site.
Stop by the Geauga Park District building at the Geauga County Fair in September to see the amazing work they do all summer with the Monarchs and learn why it is so important. Also, keep an eye out for an article from me at the beginning of the summer showing how you too can raise Monarch butterflies and help preserve their populations.
So, if you are looking for an adventure, take a trip to Big Creek Park, just north of Chardon High School, and see what I am talking about for yourself. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
“Take a hike, bring your binoculars and your camera, and enjoy what nature has to offer.”
Big Creek Park
9160 Robinson Road
Donald W. Meyer Center
Open November – April
Mon. – Fri. 8 AM – 4:30 PM
Open May – October
Mon. – Fri. 8 AM – 4:30 PM
Sat. and Sun. 10 AM – 5 PM
The online home for Big Creek Park, from which information for this article was obtained, can be found HERE.
Have you ever been to Big Creek Park? Tell us about your experience below in the comments.