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Amenity: Hiking

Tupelo Bottoms

Tupelo Bottoms is a 41-acre park in Sullivan Township located just north of Sprinkle’s Serenity and across the road from Hurdle Waterfowl Park where parking is available. Visitors can park in the Hurdle parking lot. There are plans for a loop trail, but there is only a short “trail to nowhere” into the woods. The park is open to the public, but, at this time, because of the thick undergrowth and the mixture of wetlands and vernal pools, it is not ideal hiking especially in the springtime. However, for ambitious and dedicated hikers, the reward will be a fascinating hike encountering a mixture of unique habitats and an immense diversity of plants and animals.

Tupelo Bottoms has over 250 identified plants including tupelo, Freeman’s maple, swamp cottonwood, Shumard oak; many unique wetland wildflowers including cardinal flower and small wild orchids; and dozens of species of sedges, grasses, and shrubs. The park also supports a wide variety of birds, mammals, insects, and amphibians including leopard frogs and four-toed salamanders. In springtime, the park is filled with the songs of these many different frogs and toads.

Carpenter Nature Preserve

Situated along the Black Fork River, the 63 acres comprising this park hold a varitey of habitats. Twenty acres of seasonal wetlands constructed by the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife service (USFWS) host flocks of waterfowl during spring and fall migrations. Trails and bridges wind through grasslands, forests, and wetland meadows.

This park is best suited for summer and fall hiking since spring time often brings heavy flooding. For the ambitious hiker, bird watching is excellent. You can expect to see a wide variety of species from red-headed woodpeckers to sandhill cranes to prothonotary warblers. You might even have the opportunity to see eagles feasting on fish trapped in the basins left by the receding river.

In addition to the wetlands, there are a great many wildflowers that have been planted by USFWS for perfect viewing in the summer and fall. There are also a number of leopard frogs that grequent the wet areas. Access to boating and riverbanks is provided for fishing. Canoeing and boating is available to north and south, but log jams especially to the south, may require returning to Carpenter to complete your trip. Your canoeing/kyaking experience meanders through woodland meadows and farm country. Take a break near the parking lot and enjoy the picnic pavilion. Trips are best in the early summer before the river gets low. This area of the river is a popular fishing spot for pike in the spring time and catfish and red horse suckers in the summer and fall.

Cooke Family Wildlife Conservation Park

This gorgeous 163-acre park is located along the Blackfork of the Mohican River, 10 miles west of Ashland. It has over three miles of hiking trails that run through a unique mixture of prairie grasslands, hardwood forests, pine forests, wetlands, swamps forests, marshes, beaver ponds, and floodplains.

The 16-acre marsh that lies in the park is home to a myriad of wetland loving birds, mink, muskrat, amphibians, and a wide variety of native sedges and unusual plants. The winding Black Fork River which is surrounded by floodplains that host an unusually large population of leopard and pickerel frogs. The river is available for fishing with a State of Ohio license. Beavers have occasionally damned up a tributary entering the river.

The park was made possible by the Cooke family of Ashland, and being an avid sportsmen, the park includes a trap shooting range and a three-acre fishing pond. The enclosed pavilion over looks the beautiful three acre pond. This park also has hunting access, which is restricted during parts of the hunting season. Hunting for deer (bow and gun) turkey, and small game is permitted at this site.

Byers Woods

Byers Woods is an 215-acre park, in a repurposed landfill, where visitors will find over three miles of well-maintained trails looping through a wide variety of habitats – including forest, grasslands, wetlands, fishing ponds and more. This site hosts a tremendous diversity of birds and wildlife.

In the middle of Byers Woods are two fenced-in retired 50-acre landfill mounds, which are off limits to the public until the 30-year EPA closure is completed in 2030. The cold-season grasses on the landfill mounds are a great habitat for birds and deer.

There are 50 acres of hardwood forest, which includes a large variety of native species attractive to wildlife including oaks, maples, hickories, and beech trees. Most notable are the massive and majestic swamp white oaks that stand in the heart of the forest.

Thanks to the Ashland County Chapter of Pheasants Forever, there are 75 acres of grasslands containing five species of prairie grasses and many native wildflowers. A state of Ohio Clean Ohio grant also provided another 40 acres of grassland in December 2019. These fields are home to jumping mice, prairie voles, dozens of butterfly species, and grassland nesting birds. Most notable of these birds is the endangered bobolink, which lives and nests in the park in large numbers. Because of this, the Mohican Audubon Society (GMAS) holds a well-attended “Bobolinks and Butterflies Festival” every year in June. GMAS has identified 161 different species of birds!

There are four fishing ponds in the park. These ponds provide fun for sportsmen and families alike – catching bass, bluegill, and catfish. There is no fishing license required, although all fishing is catch-and-release only. These ponds are also especially attractive to dozens of unique and beautiful species of dragonflies – attracting naturalists and photographers.

In 1971, Ashland County bought 180 acres of farmland that became the Ashland County Landfill. This landfill was in service for 26 years and ceased operation in 1997. Required environmental monitoring and regular maintenance are done each year by the county solid waste district.

Byers Woods was named in honor of the late State Representative Eugene Byers and longtime County Commissioner Marilyn Byers for their service and dedication to Ashland County. In 2004, Ashland County Park District was given a 99-year lease to operate Byers Woods as a county park.

Thanks to the levy, the park district completed several capital improvement projects at this park.  A beautiful 1.1 mile paved trail was added as well as paved parking lots, an accessible playground, an accessible restroom, a restroom, and a pavilion. The paved trail starts at the front parking lot, travels around the middle pond and finishes the loop around the east mound. The 50×40 playground and 12×20 pavilion is easily accessable from the front parking lot as well.

Sprinkle’s Serenity

This land has been in the same family since it was acquired by David and Ruth Shanks in 1914. David Shanks purchased a prize stallion in Iowa and led him all the way back to Sullivan on foot to insure he got there unharmed. His daughter Hazel and her husband Carl Sprinkle purchased the farm from the Shanks. The Sprinkles had an innovative feeding and breeding program for milk cows that produced “Suzanna King Pheobe,” an Elite Iron Grandma cow that still ranks high on the Ohio list for lifetime butterfat production. This cow is buried at a marked grave on the property.

The couple had a daughter who was pictured milking one of her cows in a children’s book called “All About Farm Animals.” She lived on the farm with her husband until her death in 2003 at the age of 96. Their two children both received their own State FFA Degrees, and their son was named Star Farmer of America at the National FFA convention in 1983.

Part of the mission of Ashland County Park District is to preserve its agricultural heritage. With such rich farming history, ACPD is proud to have this property as a county park.

Sprinkle’s Serenity was opened in June of 2014. Twenty acres of the park will continue to be farmed. A 16-acre overgrown field, with the remnants of an apple orchard, provides excellent food and cover for animals. The park district has planted over 4,000 new trees and shrubs on ten acres to compliment the existing eighteen acres of swampy forest. Pheasants Forever has planted 17.5 acres of prairie grasses and wildflowers.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources have spent $16,460 to create a twenty-two acre marsh at Sprinkle’s Serenity. This marsh will compliment a marsh found at Hurdle Waterfowl Park. Be sure to view the waterfowl during the migrating season.

Hurdle Waterfowl Park

This 66-acre wooded park was originally designed to attract waterfowl. Today, it is ideal for hiking and bird watching. In addition to two miles of hiking trails, the site contains a 4.5-acre fishing pond, a 12-acre shallow pond complex, and a 2.5-acre duck pond. The park also has mature woods and a small buttonbush marsh. A large observation tower overlooking the park is temporarily closed for maintenance.

In 2019, a second parking lot was installed just 500 feet north of the main parking lot for quicker and easier access to the fishing pond. The original corn crib was also converted into a picnic shelter. Two interior walls were removed along with the garage doors, the concrete pad was replaced, and picnic tables will be installed. In 2023, a paved trail will be added and both parking lots will be paved.

Freer Field

This 78-acre park lies near the heart of the city of Ashland. Freer Field has two miles of hiking trails, including a one-mile paved loop that seems to be in constant use every day of the year by hikers, runners, bikers, strollers, and more. These trails travel through several habitats. There are 30 acres of woods – half of which are magnificent stands of hickories, oaks, and other hardwoods – and the other half a peaceful pine forest full of holly bushes.

The trails also travel through grassy meadows that draw birds and butterflies with the variety of native grasses and wildflowers. The trail circles a large grassy area that offers opportunities for kite flying, frisbee throwing, and other family fun.

This park is a popular site for community events such as BalloonFest. There is a historic barn at Freer Field and a unique playground that was designed to be used by children of all abilities. Parking is available by the barn and off of Park Street.

Freer Field was donated to the Park District in 2008 by the Ashland County Commissioners to remain as open green space and to never be developed. Today, the park still benefits kids and their families. The new visitor center provides a space for families to picnic in the open air pavilion, reserve the community room for any occasion, and utilize the public restrooms. These restrooms and lobby are open from dawn to dusk year round. The visitor center also provides office space to staff which is open to the public from 8 a.m. to Noon Monday through Friday.

The park district has provided a new program “Everybody Rides” at Freer Field which provides hadicapped or disabled adults and children access to adaptive bicycles to ride on the paved trail. The bikes were purchased for the Park District by the Samaritan Foundation and a private interested citizen. These bikes available to the extent we have citizen volunteers to help us with the program. Citizens interested in volunteering should call the Park District office at 419-289-3524.

Pine Hill Park – Sauers Farm

The 283-acre Pine Hill Park was created by combining two land parcels – 186 acres of the historical Sauers family farm and 97 acres of woodland owned by the Crall family. The property naturally divides itself into Crall Woods and Sauers Farm, each with its own district and unique characteristics.

Pine Hill Sauers Farm
This 99-acre park is a hiker’s delight with over three miles of trails that wind through a mixture of habitats. There are roughly 25 acres of tranquil hardwood forest, with a deep ravine and meandering creek. Visitors will also enjoy 25 acres of mixed young forest and thickets, full of song birds and the highest butterfly population in the park district. There is another 25 acres of prairie grasses and wildflowers that are calming to walk.

The land was aquired by the Sauers family and Clean Ohio grant. The heart of the park is the Sauers family homestead. ACPD park managers live in the historic farmhouse, which is not open to the public. There are several other buildings, including two timber framed barns. The oldest barn was built in the 1850’s and is available for rental. It also serves as home for a two-story cider press from the 1880’s. An orchard on the property grows 45 varieties of apples which help supply the stock for the cider press demonstration held at the park. The homestead area also has a fishing pond, a picnic area, a playground, and a 12×20 picnic pavilion.

From 2018 to 2020, a concrete paved parking lot was added, a public restroom facility, playground, and picnic pavilion.

Reserve Sauers Barn at Pine Hill: Sauers Barn location offers picturesque hiking trails, picnic areas, fishing pond, new playground, and new handicap accessible restroom facility with a paved parking lot. The barn contains an 1850’s cider press and farm implements from the 1800’s. There is currently no running water at the site, but has electric capability and ample table/chairs. Rental also includes tables and chairs for 250 people. For more information, or to reserve a date, please contact our park office at (419) 289-3524.

Pine Hill Park – Crall Woods

The 283-acre Pine Hill Park was created by combining two land parcels – 186 acres of the historical Sauers family farm and 97 acres of woodland owned by the Crall family. The property naturally divides itself into Crall Woods and Sauers Farm, each with its own district and unique characteristics.

Pine Hill Crall Woods

Crall Woods is known regionally through an extensive study performed by the Ohio Biological Survey (1964) that resulted in the publication of the Ohio Biological Survey book entitled An Ecological Study of Crall Woods: A Remnant of Forest Primeval in Ashland County, Ohio. The site is nationally recognized as a national natural landmark by the National Park Service (1974).

Enjoy the new swing set near the parking lot including a harness swing, double facing bench swing, double facing toddler swing, and reglar bench swing.