Flower Power: Wildflower Viewing in Ohio State Parks - Official Ohio State Park Lodges and Conference Centers

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Flower Power: Wildflower Viewing in Ohio State Parks

Here are the best places to see the showy blooms of spring

The spring wildflower season in the Ohio state parks is one of the year’s best displays of Mother Nature. A keen eye can spot the rare Snow Trillium in central and west-central Ohio or the Lakeside Daisy in the northern Ohio limestone quarries.

Due to the delicate nature of spring wildflowers, the window to see them is small. Flower buds usually emerge in early April in southern Ohio and late April/early May in the northern regions of the state. Their vibrant burst of color is only visible during a few short weeks when there is full access to sunlight on the forest floor before the leaves emerge on the trees.

Searching for Ohio’s wildflowers gives you a reason to explore the trails a little closer and observe the untouched elegance of buds on the Blue-eyed Mary, Purple Cress, and Swamp Buttercup.

The Ohio State Park Lodges at Deer Creek, Salt Fork, Mohican, and Punderson Manor are based in some of the best parks for wildflower viewing. So grab your camera (or smartphone) and hit the trails to capture some of Ohio’s most colorful and diverse wildflower spectacles.

Deer Creek

Deep in the forest and meadows of Deer Creek State Park some of the most common Ohio wildflowers dot the landscape. Take a stroll on one of seven trails outside the lodge and search for the Trout Lily, Spring Beauty or the Cutleaf Toothwort. Trails range from the short ¼-mile Waterloo Trail through the woods to the more adventurous 2.5-mile Rolling Hills Trail that takes you past the lake and ravines for a hearty 5-mile round trip. There are several species of violets found in the heavily wooded areas of Deer Creek.

Salt Fork

Ohio’s largest state park, Salt Fork, has a spring wildflower scene that can satisfy both an experienced botanist and an amateur enthusiast because of its vast and diverse habitats. There are hundreds of species of plants including several rare and endangered species. The Stone House Nature Trail, one of the best trails for spring wildflowers, hosts an annual spring wildflower walk in late April. Beneath a canopy of oak and hickory leaves along the trail, hikers can spot Bloodroot, Cutleaf Toothwort, several species of buttercup, violets like the common Blue Violet and Sweet White Violet, and three species of trillium, including the Large-flowered Trillium.

Other wildflower hotspots within the park include the Hosak’s Cave Trail, where a natural sandstone overhang and moss-covered cliff create a microclimate for species like Showy Orchis, Orange Jewelweed and Yellow Jewelweed that spill out of the trailhead in the summer. Other hiking trails with exceptional wildflower habitat are along the Morgan’s Knob/Pinecrest trail and Gunn’s Glenn loop in the campground. Non-hikers can observe wildflowers in the meadows and roadsides throughout the park such as goldenrod, milkweed, ironweed, Butterfly Weed and Joe-Pye Weed. Drive down Rocky Fork Road north of the park to see the Virginia Bluebells, Spring Beauties and Rue Anemones on the banks and gravel roadsides.

Mohican

Thanks to the massive Wisconsin glacier that pushed its way through the Mohican State Park region 13 million years ago, there is a diverse landscape and habitat for plants and wildlife. The result is the magnificent Clearfork Gorge and Clearfork River rushing through in a north and south direction setting the stage for delicate wildflowers on the banks. Naturalists have identified five different habitats within the state park producing an array of spring wildflowers. You will find species like trillium, buttercups, violets, Marsh Marigold, Cutleaf Toothwort, Spring Beauties, Skunk Cabbage, Trout Lily, Pink Ladies Slipper, Rue Anemone, Wood Anemone, Spring Cress and many more. You might want to grab a wildflower guide and check off your finds as you explore some of the 13 miles of trails in the state park and additional hiking paths in the Mohican Memorial State Forest.

Punderson Manor

Punderson State Park, which surrounds the elegant Punderson Manor, features 741 acres of glacial plateau that invites unique wildflowers to its northern Ohio habitat. Spring wildflowers can be seen throughout the park but are best observed from one of the 11 miles of hiking trails. The Beach Trail and Whitetail Trail are easy ½-mile hikes that enable you to search for Trout Lillies and Wild Geranium. For more strenuous wildflower viewing try hiking the 2.2-mile Erie Trail, the 1.1-mile Mohawk Trail or the ¾-mile Iroquois Trail and search for phlox, Jack-in-the-pulpit and May Apples.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources releases a wildflower report with weekly updates on the parks and the wildflowers in bloom. It is an ideal way to plan your weekend hikes around the locations of peak blooms.

How to Explore

In addition to exploring the parks for the state’s best wildflower viewing, Ohio State Park Lodges provide opportunities all year round for recreation, outdoor adventure, family fun, meetings, and relaxation.

All pictures appearing in this story were contributed by park guests.

Written by: Anietra Hamper

Ohio resident Anietra Hamper is an award-winning travel writer who specializes in covering outdoor activities.