Great Blue Herons.
Limited Access to the Preserve
The Rookery is the next local park featured in my series. By definition, rookery means a breeding place of gregarious birds; in this case, great blue herons. This 603-acre park is home to over 150 active nests, which are built mostly of sticks. The nesting ground is only accessible by hikes that are led by naturalists of the Park District. These guided hikes generally take place in November when the nests are inactive. Disturbing this area during their breeding season (March – June) can cause the nest and any eggs/babies to be abandoned. This particular rookery has been active for over 60 years. For more information on the Great Blue Heron, click HERE.
[This video was provided by the Geauga Park District. Click HERE to watch more videos about the parks]
Now for the part of the park that is accessible.
In the early 1900’s, this property belonged to the Cleveland and Eastern Traction Company, who operated an electric powered interurban railroad. This railroad brought passengers from Cleveland out to Geauga County. Located on these grounds is a place formerly called the Junction, a wye in the tracks where passengers could either continue their trip northeast to Chardon or could catch a trolley to Burton/Middlefield. This small structure pictured here was recently built on the former spot of the Junction. It is a great spot to sit back and just enjoy the sights and sounds of nature around you.
The Interurban Trail was created on the old abandoned rail bed. On this trail, hikers, bicyclers, and cross-country skiers will pass through the wetlands, through a covered bridge that goes over the Chagrin River, and past the Junction. The Woodcock Trail, a shorter loop trail, features a deck overlooking an abandoned oxbow of the Chagrin River. Click HERE for a brochure and map of The Rookery.
Park visitors may enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables in the Silo Picnic Area with water and restrooms available nearby. For larger groups, the enclosed Great Blue Heron Lodge with its stone fireplace and beautiful wood paneling is available by reservation or on a first-come, first-served basis. You can find the Lodge guidelines here. There is also a small playground close the the Lodge.
I have attended several family functions at the Rookery and been hiking there many times. The trails are easy and flat, and there is a good chance you will spot some wildlife while you are there.
I have taken the kids I babysit several times, and this park was perfect for them. Playground, picnic lunch, bathrooms, short easy trail, and lots of frogs, turtles, and birds. They loved finding animals along the trail having a “party”, meaning a bunch of them sitting on a log sunning themselves on those beautiful summer days, or a group of ducks or geese splashing around the wetlands. They also enjoyed standing on the covered bridge tossing stones in the river. We always take our binoculars and that handy wildlife guide I talked about in my last feature, and the kids try to identify the plants and animals we see on our hike. I get such gratification in knowing that they are learning about nature. It is amazing to watch them telling and teaching their friends the things they learned while on our nature hike.
Even this time of the year, The Rookery is full of the
sights and sounds of Mother Nature.
A beautiful sunset
Some pretty amazing things that the ice can do.
Have you ever thrown a rock across a shallow pool of water that is frozen over?
It makes quite an interesting chirping sound as the rock glides across the ice.
A few small abandoned bird nests, ready for some new tenants.
The river rushing along its way under the covered bridge
This park is definitely worth a visit anytime of the year if you have never been there before.
“Take a hike, bring your binoculars and your camera,
and enjoy what nature has to offer.”
10110 Cedar Road
Munson, OH 44026
To reserve the Great Blue Heron Lodge, go to this website.
The online home for The Rookery, from which information for this article was obtained, can be found HERE.