Sandy Ridge Reservation is a 310 acre wetland and wildlife preserve located in North Ridgeville. The park opened in 1999 and has quickly become a favorite of outdoor enthusiasts and one of the most popular parks for birding in Lorain County. The reservation lies on level, soggy ground flanked to the north and south by ancient beach ridges and consists of forests and open lands to explore. Bring your binoculars or a camera to see the wildlife that visit Sandy Ridge.
|Live video stream of the Bald Eagles at Sandy Ridge|
Johnson Wetland Center
The obvious attraction to this park is the wildlife, but there are other reasons to visit. Stop by the Perry F. Johnson Wetland Center to receive updates on recent bird sightings, see the butterfly/hummingbird garden and children can enjoy the playground nearby. There is a small shelter with a picnic table to enjoy a quick lunch as well. The building can be used as a classroom for school outings and may be reserved for outside functions for a small fee by calling (440) 327-3626. The two small ponds located at the park serve as part of the wastewater treatment system and the building’s geothermal heating/cooling units. You can walk along the pond’s perimeter and over the footbridge to study the colorful vegetation and aquatic life.
The trail that begins at the Johnson Wetland Center enters into the “wet woods” section of Sandy Ridge. The pin oak and red maple dominated forest is also home to a great variety of wildflowers and ferns. Spring amphibian songs are not to be missed also!
After the woods, the trail opens into the wetlands area of Sandy Ridge. Wetland and wildlife enthusiasts will find few areas in Lorain County to compare to Sandy Ridge. The dike-enclosed restoration area supports expansive marsh habitats along with open water and scrub/shrub wetlands. A graveled loop trail topping the dikes offers long views across the wetland for both wildlife and bird watching. Waterfowl, wading birds, and shore birds in particular, can be abundant. Stop by the observation mound for an elevated view of the marsh area as well. Tram rides are scheduled every weekend during summer months for those unable to make the hike back to marsh. Because this area is more “nature preserve” than park, please leave your bicycles and pets behind. Fishing is not permitted, at this reservation.
You can also enjoy the Wet Meadow with a hike around a one-mile unimproved trail which begins by the larger picnic shelter. This trail is open to pets kept on handheld leashed. The Marsh Loop Trail is closed to pets.
Our Valuable Wetlands
Sandy Ridge’s most notable feature are its wetlands. Wetlands are valuable not only because they provide a habitat for wildlife, but they also help filter pollution from water and act as flood control by taking excess water from overflowing rivers. There’s the obvious recreational value as well.
The marsh area of Sandy Ridge Reservation is a favorite of bird watchers. New species continue to appear and add to the breeding list of over 100 birds. Sand hill cranes, egrets and American bittern are regularly spotted in the summer months. A pair of bald eagles has resided here since the summer of 2002.
Wildlife is not confined to birds. Muskrats are well populated in the wetland as evident by the haystack-like homes they make. Other wildlife includes deer, raccoon, coyote, and mink.
From Wetland to Farm
to Wetland Again
Sandy Ridge opened to the public in 1999. While the area was originally a wetland (hydric soils and vegetation types are evidence of this) it had been drained and used as farmland for many years. Then, after sitting fallow for several years again after that (during which time it began to revert to a wetland) it was purchased by Lorain County Metro Parks in 1990.
Construction took two years and required a great deal of architectural planning, earth moving (to create the raised trail system, for example), seeding areas, creating paths and putting up signage. After construction on the wetland area was completed, it was left untouched for a year while construction proceeded on the front or “public” end of the park. During this time, wildlife species began to repopulate the marsh on their own. In fact, new arrivals are still appearing every year, even those that are endangered such as bald eagles.