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

Sign coordinates (The West Woods)
N 41° 27.779 W 81° 18.252
Sign coordinates (Lewis & Ruth Affelder House)
N 41° 27.221 W 81° 20.206

The West Woods Nature Center
Open Daily
10 AM - 5 PM

picnic shelter

  • About this Park
  • Facilities
  • Trails
  • Habitat
  • Green Features
  • Directions

The West Woods is a 902-acre park that protects the historic sandstone ledges of Ansel’s Cave, Silver Creek and its watershed, extensive wetlands and mature forests. It is Geauga Park District’s intent to protect this natural area in perpetuity, and utilize the nature center to provide quality nature education.

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.

In 1933, Mr. W.H. Eisenman purchased 600 acres here and eventually donated 100 acres to ASM International for their headquarters. In 1961, ASM (American Society for Materials) purchased the remainder of the homestead. The West Woods began taking shape in 1992 when Lewis and Ruth Affelder offered the Park District 85 acres west of ASM. In 1994, the Park District purchased 192 acres near ASM from Miller & Company. In April of that same year, ASM offered the Park District the opportunity to purchase more than 500 acres. With support from local conservationist William D. Ginn, who obtained a loan and spearheaded a successful fundraising campaign, the preservation of this large parcel was possible. An additional 100 acres were added in 1996 with the support of neighbors and friends of the Park District, making the park a true community treasure.

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.

The West Woods Nature Center houses 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.

Two picnic shelters are available for reservations. Both include electricity and nearby restrooms. There is no playground in The West Woods. Click here to reserve shelters.

Deer Run
Deer Run Shelter, Turkey Ridge Shelter

The Lewis & Ruth Affelder House is open for reservation by the public by phone or in person only, with groups not to exceed 24 persons. It will be made available for small group meetings and gatherings, but not youth groups to protect the sensitive ecosystem surrounding the facility.

The Lewis & Ruth Affelder House is available by permit only for small civic or conservation agencies, with groups not to exceed 24 persons. Please review the Affelder House guidelines here. The house offers a large meeting room with tables and chairs, wood burning fireplace, kitchenette with refrigerator and sink, and an outdoor patio with grill. No kitchen stove is provided. To reserve the Affelder House, call Denise Wolfe at 440-279-0894.

Affelder House
The Affelder House

There are currently nearly 7 miles of trails in The West Woods, traversing through woodlands, across streams and past outcroppings of Sharon conglomerate. Enjoy the Discovery Trail, which leads visitors past vernal pools; take the Trout Lily Trail to Sunset Overlook; or follow Neighbors Way from the nature center to the picnic shelters. Download the trail map here.

Pioneer Bridle Trail is open to horseback riders and hikers, making a large loop west of the nature center and connecting to the Music Street Link and Affelder Link trails. Horse trailer parking is available in the north parking lot.

Ansel’s Cave Trail leads from the picnic shelter area to Ansel’s Cave. Ansel’s Cave Link Trail provides additional access to and from the Nature Center.

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.

Several potentially threatened species have been identified in The West Woods, including the butternut tree, closed gentian, blunt mountain mint wildflowers, tall manna grass, and the mourning warbler. More than 100 species of fungi have been identified here, several of which are rare in North America.

As the forest continues to mature, the undisturbed habitat becomes increasingly valuable to wildlife, including woodland songbirds like tanagers, warblers, thrushes, vireos and flycatchers; pileated woodpeckers; and barred owls and others that depend on sizable forest stands with undisturbed interiors.

Frogs, toads and a large variety of salamanders benefit from the abundance of seeps, springs, streams, and both naturally occurring and manmade wetlands located within the park.

Download the brochure on the The West Wood's Green Roof Building.

Download the brochure on The West Wood's Green features.

Click below for a map to The West Woods Nature Center, courtesy of Mapquest®. (Click here for a map and step-by-step directions to Affelder House.)

From Erie and points north: Travel I-90 to Route 306. Travel south on Route 306 for approximately 12.7 miles to Route 87. Turn east on Route 87, and travel 1.9 miles to the park entrance on the south side of the road.

From Akron and points south: Travel I-422 to 306 exit. Turn north onto Route 306, travel approximately 5.3 miles to Route 87. Turn east on Route 87, and travel for approximately 1.9 miles. Park entrance is on the south side of Route 87.

From Warren and points east: Travel Route 87 approximately 3 miles west of Auburn Road. Park entrance is on the south side of Route 87.

From Cleveland and points west: From Cleveland and points west: Travel I-271 N to US 422W. Exit 29 Chagrin Blvd. OH -87. Travel Route OH-87 1.9 miles east of Route 306. Park entrance is on the south side of Route 87.