Have You Been to This Beautiful Park Lately?

Geauga Park District was established in 1961 to ensure that the most delicate ecosystems and the best park sites in the region remain protected from development while providing county residents the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors in a safe and wholesome atmosphere. Starting off small with the 4-acre Woodin Road Park in 1964, Geauga Park District now manages nearly 9,500 acres in 19 open parks, other preserves, and future parks. I plan to visit and feature one park each week, showing all of you what they have to offer. These parks are hidden gems in our county and I encourage all of you to take the time to experience them for yourselves.

First up: The West Woods

Sunset Overlook at the West WoodsI have spent a lot of time walking the trails here; by myself, with friends and their dogs, and with the kids I babysit. My favorite time of the year to hike here is definitely in the spring. During that time, you can experience the sounds of thousands of deafening frogs in the vernal pools, the wildflowers, and the wildlife emerging from their winter’s nap. There is a platform called Sunset Overlook located in the woods and away from the busy street where you can relax and just enjoy the sunset and the sounds of Mother Nature.


[Video of spring frogs provided by the Geauga Park District.
Click HERE to check out some other great videos of the parks.]

The bird feeding station is also a favorite of mine and of the kids. You can sit inside (any time of the year) and learn about so many different types of birds by using the binoculars and bird guides provided. There is always a volunteer or staff member close by if you have questions or need help identifying any of the birds. We even found a wildlife guide for sale in the gift shop that the kids love to bring along on our hikes. They get so excited when they find something along the trail that is in the guide.

The bird feeding station at the West Woods

What does this local treasure have to offer?

This 900+ acre park, located in Newbury and Russell townships, has so much to offer; from picnic shelters to the Lewis & Ruth Affelder House, hiking and bridle trails (nearly 7 miles), and the Nature Center with its various programs. The West Woods Nature Center is wheelchair accessible. Both picnic shelters, which are available for reservations, have electricity and nearby restrooms.

Pavillion at the West Woods

The Nature Center provides innovative displays and hands-on exhibits that explain how the geology (rocks) and hydrology (water) of Geauga County gave rise to the area’s diverse natural communities. There is something here for all ages. Check their event calendar often to see all of the great programs the Park District offers. For example, the first Thursday of every month the Shutterbug Camera Club holds a meeting at the West Woods from 7 – 9 p.m. This is definitely one that I would love to start attending. There are so many amazing photo opportunities in our local parks. I am just an amateur photographer and this FREE program would be the perfect stepping stone to advance me in this hobby.

The West Woods Nature Center

Many have sought refuge here: people and animals

According to local legend, Ansel’s Cave once sheltered Civil War soldiers and munitions, runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad, Prohibition-era bootleggers, and Geauga County resident Ansel Savage. In the mid-1800’s, the David Robinson family set up their homestead on land that would one day be part of The West Woods. Remnants of the Robinson family cemetery still remain. The West Woods is named after a story first published in 1885: A.G. Riddle’s The Young Sugar Makers of The West Woods, which takes place where the park is now located.

Ansel's Cave at the WestWoods

The natural diversity of The West Woods is not only pleasing to the eye; it provides refuge for a variety of wildlife. Wetlands, mature forests, reclaimed farm fields, and Ansel’s Cave, which is composed of Sharon conglomerate sandstone ledges, provide habitat for a great number of plant and animal species. Three tributaries of Silver Creek – a high quality cold-water stream and a tributary of the Chagrin River – have been used by the Ohio Department of Natural Resource’s Division of Wildlife to successfully reintroduce a “threatened” species of native brook trout. Many rare and threatened species of plants and animals have been found here at The West Woods.

Going Green

Obviously, protecting and preserving the environment is very important to the Park District. Take a look at this brochure to see what steps the West Woods is taking to Go Green. Also, while you are visiting this amazing park, check out their Green Roof building. What a fantastic way to reduce rainwater runoff and increase insulation!

The boardwalk at the West Woods

So, if you are looking for something fun to do by yourself, with your kids, or with your pets, stop by The West Woods and soak up some nature. The Nature Center is open daily from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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

The West Woods
9465 Kinsman Road (Route 87)
Russell & Newbury Twps.
(Russell, OH 44072) 

For more information on what the Affelder House is available for, click HERE.
To reserve the Affelder House, call Denise Wolfe at 440-279-0894.

Download a trail map and brochure HERE.

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

Come back next week to see which I park I am going to explore next!

Geauga News
Author: Geauga News