If you went to school in Geauga County, you probably went on a field trip to Swine Creek Reservation to net Monarch butterflies in the fall. That was the only time I had ever visited the park until recently.
Swine Creek Reservation was once part of a 1200-acre hunting preserve typically used for fox hunting. The hunting preserve belonged to Mesopotamia resident Windsor Ford, who sold a portion of his land to Geauga Park District in 1977. The 268 acres that were sold contained a sugar bush, a pond and a lodge. Additional acres were added along Swine Creek and the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad corridor bringing the park’s total acreage to 412. Located in the heart of Amish country, Swine Creek is one of the most popular parks in the county.
As I mentioned, this park was a popular spot for schools to bring their students to learn about butterflies. The meadows of Swine Creek provide abundant nectar sources with a variety of summer wildflowers and low, dense cover for protection for the butterflies, insects and birds. The majority of the park is covered with a variety of trees. Many small streams branch off from Swine Creek, separating the woods into upland and lowland areas. Two small ponds, Killdeer Pond and Lodge Pond, allow shoreline fishing and have several small decks to fish from. Boating is not permitted.
Swine Creek Reservation offers several shelters for picnicking and parties. The lodge has an indoor and an outdoor fireplace, picnic tables, electricity and nearby restrooms. Woods Edge Shelter and Lake Side Shelter both provide picnic tables, electricity, and nearby playgrounds. The Valley Shelter, which is located on Swine Creek Road, has nearby restrooms and horse-and-buggy parking. Click here to learn how to reserve one of these shelters. Reserving these shelters is FREE to Geauga County residents.
Every spring, Geauga County celebrates the maple sugaring season. Swine Creek has a 32-acre active maple operation managed by the Park District. During that season they host an annual, three-Sunday event called Sap’s-A-Risin’ where visitors can learn about the sugaring process and its history through displays and demonstrations. Guests can observe the process in the sugarhouse and even taste a sample. Quite a few other fantastic programs also take place in this park every year, such as wagon rides and Monarch tagging. Click here to view the program schedule.
There are six miles of hiking trails, varying in length and difficulty. Several trails allow horseback riding. For all the winter fanatics, cross-country skiing is allowed on a few trails. Click here to view a park brochure and map.
In the summer of 2013, I was asked by Geauga Park District to photograph a special event at Swine Creek. This annual event called the BioBlitz happens at a different park each year. Naturalists and volunteers gather at the park to record all of the species in the park; plant, animals, insect, fish, tree, etc. If it is alive, they are identifying it and recording it. I was honored to be a part of the day. I spent time with as many groups as I could before the battery on my camera died. It was amazing to be around such a diverse group of people and learn so many new things.
Here are some photos I captured that day:
Swine Creek Reservation
16004 Hayes Road
The online home for Swine Creek Reservation, from which information for this article was obtained, can be found HERE.
Have you ever been to Swine Creek Reservation? What do you like about this park?
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