Ottawa National Wildlife Preserve

I usually whiz past the Ottawa National Wildlife Preserve as I'm on my way to Cedar Point from my home near Lansing. And that was why I was in the area again, to attend Cedar Point's Winter Chill Out, where you get behind the scenes looks at the park. But it didn't last all day like a normal CP visit, so I had a little time to spare on my return trip to Michigan.

Off of US2 between Oregon and Sandusky (Ohio) is the ONWP, a wetland preserved for migratory birds. While not a hiking area per se, there are a few trails. I hiked the ones whose trailheads were nearest the visitors center, so if you're looking to duplicate my journey, park in the visitor center parking lot.

The trailhead is just north of the impressive looking center. The paved path turns into a well-maintained wooden walkway over the marsh. After taking a short look into the wetlands from several observation areas, I continued on the meandering trail through the reeds, and the walkway reaches lands and becomes a gravel path that leads into the woods.

Several branches split off from that path. I stayed on the main trail that continued under the tree canopy. On a warm February day, over 60, the snow was gone and the path was mushy. Bring your boots on those types of days. Or stilts. A flare gun to signal in case you are stuck in very deep mud is also advisable. The path wound its way until a wider, well-worn path through the grass. Short on time, I returned to the visitors center by a path that ran beside a water and ice-filled channel.

Looking at the map, there are a few more trails to explore. Since I take yearly trips to CP, I will return to explore some of the other paths on a future visit. While not a hiking destination (i.e. not worth a long drive just for the preserve), it's a nice spot for a short break.

Latitude: 41.607304
Longitude: -83.209734

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