Located about 10-15 minutes north of Mansfield, Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve is one destination that you won’t want to miss if you’re looking for some of the best places to hike in Ohio.
Fowler Woods is a 187-acre state nature preserve located outside Mansfield, Ohio that was formerly owned by the Fowler family who left it to the state. The property was acquired in 1971 and dedicated in 1972. It remains the only state nature preserve in Richland County.
It is said to be one of the best places in Ohio to view the spring wildflowers. You’ll find marsh marigolds in April and trilliums, violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, phlox and more blooming in May. You’ll also see and hear and see a variety of birds making it an ideal location for birdwatching.
The entire trail winds 1.25 miles through the woodlands where you’ll see wildlife, an old-growth beech-maple forest which is beautiful during the fall, vernal ponds and buttonbush swamp which combine for the perfect breeding ground for amphibians during the spring and summer. It’s not uncommon to see tree frogs, salamanders and snakes (don’t worry, they aren’t poisonous) so keep an eye out for them. No matter what time of year you choose to visit, if you look closely, your walk is sure to be full of surprises!
Part of the trail was closed several years ago when it became unsafe in part due to the Ash Borer Beetle that was ravaging the Ash trees. I had grown up in the area and as a teenager, had walked the wooded path several times with my grandparents and other family members but the last time I visited, the preserve had lost much of its appeal. The boardwalk was moss-covered and slippery and it became such a challenge not to slide that it was no longer relaxing.
The remaining part of the nature preserve was closed this past spring so installation on a new boardwalk could begin.
I was thrilled when I heard that the nature preserve had reopened with brand NEW ADA and stroller accessible boardwalks where the entire original loop had been. I couldn’t wait to visit and experience it for myself.
The park reopened the end of October and I could see from the parking lot that the community is putting it to good use. We arrived in the late afternoon and found the large parking lot to be more than half full.
The trailhead is easily found from the parking lot and leads you to a kiosk where the boardwalk splits in two. The trail splits into a loop about 50 feet in where you’ll find the kiosk. Habit generally leads us to the right which appears to be what everyone else had done too. With the exception of the very beginning of the trail leading to the kiosk, we didn’t pass anyone else.
Things to Know Before You Go
1. The nature preserve is free to visit.
2. There are no restroom facilities at Fowlers Woods State Nature Preserve and there aren’t any close by.
3. Pets are not allowed so leave Fido at home this time.
4. There are no picnic facilities on the property.
5. The parking area is large and with more people getting outside due to Covid, plan to arrive early in the day or towards evening for fewer crowds.
6. The boardwalk is only about four feet wide and may make some people uncomfortable to pass. If this is you, make sure you pack your mask.
7. If you’re visiting during the summer, make sure you to apply bug spray to keep the biting insects at bay.
8. The trail is open from dawn to dusk.
9. You must stay on the boardwalk at all times.
10. Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve is beautiful but unfortunately, it’s right around the corner from the county dump and if the wind is blowing the right direction, you’ll smell more than the wildflowers. Even so, this nature preserve is something to see.
Address: 7815 Olivesburg-Fitchville Road Greenwich, OH 44837
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Directions to Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve
From Mansfield: Head North on State Route 13 towards Norwalk. You’ll go about 12-15 miles or so to Crum Road. Turn right onto Crum and drive about one mile down the road to the first crossroad which is Olivesburg-Fitchville Road. Turn left and travel about 1/2 mile. You’ll see the parking lot for Fowler Woods State Nature Preserve on the left.
Do you have a favorite nature preserve? Share it in a comment below.