Welcome to the virtual home of Columbia Reservation! This 409 acre reservation was opened in August of 2003. As a wetland reservation, Columbia hosts a number of created ponds built around waterways near the west branch of the Rocky River. With miles of trails, a playground, miniature golf, concession stand, outdoor movie theatre, and a shelter, you can bring the whole family out for some fun!
Trails, Ponds and Waterways
Like so many of the Lorain County Metro Parks, Columbia Reservation offers something for everyone, from man-made to natural. Primarily a wetland reservation, Columbia has 1 mile of paved trail, 2-1/2 miles crushed limestone, and 3/4 mile mowed unimproved trail. Although parts of the reservation are wooded, with more tree plantings in the works, the park in general is characterized by open, scenic views of waterways and wildlife. The trails provide many views of the park including ponds, marsh, meadows, and woods. There are also several overlooks to enjoy these beautiful views. Ask for one of our self guided trail maps and learn about the flora and fauna along the Heron Trail. The trails are a great place to walk, jog, rollerblade and walk the dog—though some parts are off limits to dogs out of respect for the wildlife.
Picnics & Programs for All
A day can easily be spent at Columbia Reservation. You can reserve a shelter for a picnic for 45 and it has 2 grills. There is a modern play set for the kids nearby. When you're ready to take a walk and enjoy the rest of the park, you'll find the trailhead sign with a large map to help you get your bearings. Year-round programs are available to explore the trails with a naturalist and special events such as outdoor movies on Saturday nights in the summer are a great way to spend time at the park. Programs also take place at Briarwood Lodge, off of Briarwood Lane, year round. You just can't get bored at Columbia!
Sundae Funday’s is a family-owned and operated business located on the Columbia Reservation. We are a full service pizzeria and ice cream parlor open year round for lunch and dinner. An 18-hole Miniature Golf Course is available for play in the summer months and as weather permits. Throughout the year we team up with the Lorain County Metro Parks for family fun activities such as Breakfast with Santa, an Easter Egg Hunt, Trick or Treating, Luau, 50's nights, pajama day, and much more! Make sure to like us on Facebook for promotions, hours, and our menu or give us a call at (440)236-FOOD (3663). We look forward to seeing you soon!
A Wetland Restored
Columbia reservation is the result of one of Northern Ohio's largest wetland mitigation projects—285 acres of which are restored wetland. Hydric soils already present due to the flood plain and close proximity of west branch of the Rocky River, helped accommodate the conversion back to wetland. The wetland was constructed with a system of ponds and trails that act as dikes, similar to those at Sandy Ridge Reservation, to help maintain the water levels necessary for a wetland environment. Extensive landscaping was done to build the system of dikes and ponds necessary to create a more consistent environment for wetland plants and animals. These ponds have been constructed in raised tiers, all of which flow back down to the river.
Wetlands are not necessarily just areas of standing water, but can contain areas that become saturated only at certain times of the year. Columbia Reservation has both of these areas and a range in between—it’s considered a Class 3 wetland, the most diverse kind.
A Growing Population
Plenty of wildlife already calls Columbia Reservation home. Typical species include muskrat, deer, skunk, rabbit, raccoon, frogs and turtles. Some unique mammal species include a healthy population of mink, beaver, least shrew, and the secretive star-nosed mole. A huge number of spiny soft-shelled turtles are often seen basking in the sun in early spring on the sandy shoreline. There's also a growing bird population including waterfowl, raptors and songbirds. Some notable species include pileated woodpecker, red-shouldered hawk, herons, and barred owl. Predominant flora includes rushes and sedges—all of which are common to and indicate hydric or water-saturated soils. Other herbaceous species include ironweed (distinguished by a rich purple flower), wild hyacinth, tickseed, wing-stem, bur-reed, bottled gentian, and purple vervain. Tree species that are typical of wetland areas include box elder, pin oak, dogwood, bur oak, black walnut, willow, sycamore, wild black cherry, sassafras, lots of buttonbush and even some sizeable stands of paw paw.
A Little History
While Columbia Reservation opened in 2001, it was actually part of the original Metro Parks master plan in the 1960s. Using the wetland mitigation process to acquire land (as a result of Cleveland Hopkins airport expansion), construction finally began in 2000. The conversion began-from an unimpressive area of old river meanders and thick strips of bottomland hardwoods, fallow farm fields and a few large tracts of crop fields, to one of the largest and most diverse wetlands in Northeast Ohio.
Hitchcock Lake started in the 1920’s when Charley Hitchcock started damming up the bottom lands which created flooding as the area is spring fed by several springs. In the 1950’s Charley Hitchcock’s children hired a contractor to dig out the 7 acre lake. The lake was 10 feet at its deepest and would be use for canoeing, swimming, and fishing in the summer months. As time went on, the lake size remains the same but the depth is much shallower as natural succession and filling in occurs. In 1998 the Metro Parks purchased the Lake and surrounding area as part of the Columbia Reservation. The lake can be viewed from a beautiful observation deck off Heron Trail.