Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary

The Mill Creek Wildlife Sanctuary is a 264-acre former fish farm is located along the Mill Creek corridor in Beaver Township, and supports a diverse array of aquatic, wetland, and upland habitats. It was established in 2005 with funds from the NatureWorks and Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant programs.

More than half of the Wildlife Sanctuary’s acreage consists of large ponds that were constructed as part of the former fish farm operation. These ponds are located within the floodplain of Mill Creek, which historically consisted of various wetland and riparian habitats prior to being altered by farming and pond construction. Through careful management of water levels within the ponds a unique diversity of wetland habitats is maintained, including open water, marsh, and mudflat environments. This variability in habitats attracts a wide variety of wildlife species, particularly migrating birds. During the spring and fall migration months, numerous bird species use the Wildlife Sanctuary as an important resting point on their journey. Shorebirds and wading birds are especially attracted to the high quality wetland and mudflat habitats, and hundreds of birds can be seen foraging in these areas as they refuel for their long flights. To date, more than 225 species of birds have been documented at the Wildlife Sanctuary. In addition, 7 dragonfly species, 3 butterfly species, 3 tiger beetle species, and 1 tree species have been sighted and recorded within the Wildlife Sanctuary. These various species had not previously been observed within Mahoning County.

In 2013 an elevated observation platform was constructed to allow visitors to freely view the ponds at the Wildlife Sanctuary without disturbing the birds and other wildlife there. The deck elevation combined with the natural topography of the site puts observers approximately 50 feet above the ponds. No permit is required to use the observation platform; however visitors are not permitted to access any other parts of the property.

Access to the Wildlife Sanctuary property is restricted, however an observation platform next to the parking lot is open, and allows viewing of the habitats and wildlife. Binoculars or spotting scopes are recommended.

Directions: From Western Reserve Road, head South on New Buffalo, turn East on Calla Road. Parking and observation platform will be on the left.

Access is by authorized permit only. There are no restrooms or other facilities on-site.

Vickers Nature Preserve

This 262-acre preserve, acquired in 1993, is located on Akron-Canfield Road (Route 224) in Ellsworth Township. The Preserve is located between the Buckeye Horse Park to the south and Mahoning Valley Sanitary District (MVSD) property to the north. Vickers Nature Preserve consists of diverse habitats, including meadows, woodlands, wetlands, and ponds. There are also several small streams flowing through the Preserve that flow directly into Meander Creek just upstream of the Meander Reservoir. By preserving these stream habitats, Vickers Nature Preserve helps protect the drinking water resources relied on by nearly 220,000 Trumbull and Mahoning County residents.

An adequately sized parking lot allows park users to access the site for recreational and educational purposes. Hiking is permitted throughout the site, as is access to the Buckeye Horse Park Trail. Programs such as naturalist-guided nature hikes and educational programs are frequently held at this facility. Hiking is permitted; parking available at this facility, and restrooms are located at the Buckeye Horse Park.

Sebring Woods

Mill Creek MetroParks’ newest preserve is located in the Village of Sebring in Smith Township. It’s also the MetroParks’ westernmost location in Mahoning County. Situated at the intersection of Courtney Road and Johnson Road in Sebring, this 39-acre preserve was established in 2010 with a grant through the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund. Sebring Woods consists primarily of floodplain forest, wooded wetlands interspersed with open marsh and upland habitats. Fish Creek, a tributary to the Mahoning River, meanders through the property and helps create and maintain the wet conditions throughout the property.

In May 2010, staff and volunteers from the MetroParks, Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Northeast Ohio Naturalists performed an inventory of Sebring Woods and discovered three plant species that had not been previously documented in Mahoning County. Other rare plants and insects were also observed, as well as a large variety of more common wildflowers and songbirds. Pretty remarkable for such a small preserve!

A hiking trail is still under development.

Access is currently limited to MetroParks educational programs; there are no parking or restroom facilities available on-site.

Mill Creek Preserve

Located in Boardman Township, the Mill Creek Preserve consists of over 300 acres of upland and wetland habitats. Formerly the Orvets Sod Farm, the MetroParks acquired the property using grants from the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund and Wetland Resource Restoration Sponsorship Program (WRRSP). Due to its location along Mill Creek and the presence of a regionally significant large forested wetland complex, the MetroParks identified this property for acquisition in order to protect these sensitive habitats.

The Mill Creek Preserve also has an upland ridge to the west which overlooks the Mill Creek valley. Habitats here include a large wooded ravine, several small streams, young forests, fallow fields, and a prominent ridge of low, densely covered shrubby vegetation ideally suited as cover for wildlife of all types.

The expansive acreage of the Mill Creek Preserve and its diverse, high quality habitats create many opportunities for bird watching, hiking, and other passive recreation activities. Look for white-tailed deer, coyote, eastern cottontail rabbits, red-tailed hawks, and a wide variety of songbirds, which have all been observed at this unique site. The Preserve offers visitors the opportunity to observe wetland habitats up close throughout the year, and each season brings with it new colors and activity.

About 2 miles of trails have been created through wetland and upland habitats at the Preserve, allowing visitors to experience these habitats and the wildlife within them up close. Parking is available off of Western Reserve Rd.; there are no restroom facilities on-site.

MetroParks Farm Natural Areas

In addition to its agricultural fields and educational facilities, the 400 acre MetroParks Farm in Canfield Township has significant acreage dedicated to the conservation and preservation of natural habitats. Over 150 acres of land at the Farm consists of woodland, meadow, shrub thicket, pond, and wetland habitats. Two small tributaries to Indian Run also flow throughout the Farm fields.

The Mindy Henning Memorial Trail can be accessed from the MetroParks Bikeway. This trail was established to allow hikers to access some of the natural habitats of the Farm. Natural characteristics and features found on the Farm are explained in a self-guided tour by a series of strategically identified locations along the trail. The tour brochure is available at the trailhead. Hikers gain valuable knowledge about their surrounding environment as they traverse through deciduous forests, navigate around ponds and skirt cultivated fields and pastures. Look for bluebirds and tree sparrows using the nest boxes that have been placed along the trails.

Access to the natural areas of the MetroParks Farm is from the MetroParks Bikeway trailhead parking area and trail spur. The MetroParks Farm is located at 7574 Columbiana-Canfield Rd. (Route 46).

Hiking is permitted; parking, restrooms, and drinking water are available at this facility.

McGuffey Wildlife Preserve

Donated to the MetroParks in 1998 by the William Holmes McGufey Historical Society, this 78-acre retreat is located on McGuffey Road in Coitsville Township. The Preserve is a National Historic Landmark. Parking is available/ hiking is permitted

Hitchcock Woods

Hitchcock Woods is a densely wooded preserve spanning the Mill Creek corridor south of Boardman-Canfield Rd. (Route 224) in Boardman Township. This preserve was acquired over the course of thirty years through several grant and funding sources, including the Wetland Reserve Program and Clean Ohio Conservation Fund.

Mill Creek meanders north through Hitchcock Woods and is met by Sawmill Run from the east and Indian Run from the west. Located within a largely developed suburban area, this expansive tract of wetland and upland forest is home to a wide array of wildlife species. Hitchcock Woods is primarily undeveloped with the exception of several primitive trails.

Hiking is permitted on primitive trails; there are no parking or restroom facilities on-site.

Sawmill Creek Preserve

Located on Turner Rd. in Canfield Township, Sawmill Creek Preserve was established in 2002 with a grant through the Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program. Sawmill Creek is a major tributary entering the Meander Reservoir, and protection of this important resource is one of the reasons that the Sawmill Creek Preserve was established. With just under a mile of Sawmill Creek flowing within it, and thousands of feet of other small waterways traversing the property, this 154-acre preserve provides a significant degree of protection for the region’s natural resources.

Sawmill Creek Preserve consists of numerous distinct habitat types, ranging from young forests and meadow habitats in the west, to extensive forested areas in the east. Prior to acquisition the western parts of the Preserve were used in crop production, and the forests here consist mainly of pioneering trees and shrubs such as eastern cottonwood and black willow. The adjacent open meadows with various goldenrods, asters, and rushes support numerous small wetland habitats. In the east, riparian forests dominated by sugar maple grow along Sawmill Creek, while American beech and other mixed hardwoods dominate the forests on the eastern slopes overlooking the creek. Several small vernal pools are located within these forested habitats, providing breeding opportunities for the spotted salamander and other amphibians in the early spring before the pools dry up. Beautifully carved sandstone cliffs stand out in Sawmill Creek, providing a testament to the erosive power of flowing water.

Sawmill Creek Preserve is directly adjacent to the MetroParks Bikeway and provides Bikeway users with a shaded, natural corridor in the summer months and a spectacular color display in autumn. Several events, including naturalist-guided hikes, are held at Sawmill Creek Preserve each year.

Access is limited to MetroParks educational programs; there are no parking or restroom facilities available on-site.

Eqypt Swamp Preserve

Situated along the Middle Fork Little Beaver Creek in Green Township, this 57-acre preserve is comprised of wetlands, ponds, streams, and floodplains. Acquired by the Clean Ohio Conservation Fund grant in 2013 through partnership with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, this preservation area protects diverse flora and fauna and serves an important environmental role as a prominent riparian corridor.