Nestled in the heart of Crawford County, halfway between Bucyrus and Galion, lies a natural sanctuary that boasts a rich tapestry of biodiversity and history. Heckert Nature Preserve, a 43-acre haven, is a testament to the beauty and complexity of Ohio’s natural landscapes. This preserve offers a unique blend of upland forests, riparian bottoms, and old field habitats, making it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

A Trail Through Time and Nature

The preserve features a one-mile hiking trail that invites visitors on a journey through diverse ecosystems. As hikers meander through the forest and along the rim of the riparian bottom, they are greeted by a canopy of leaves that, in the fall, is carefully marked with orange flagging to guide their path. This trail not only offers a serene escape into nature but also serves as a portal to the past, hinting at the land’s historical significance and its role in the natural history of Crawford County.

A Tapestry of Flora and Fauna

The flora and fauna of Heckert Nature Preserve are emblematic of Crawford County’s woodland beauty. In spring, the forest floor is ablaze with the colors of wildflowers, while the old field habitat near the parking lot becomes a bustling hub for butterfly species in the summer. Come fall, hickory nuts and acorns litter the trails, and winter reveals a quiet beauty, with birds flitting among bare branches and the occasional butterfly making a surprise appearance on warmer days. The preserve is also home to potentially threatened plants, safeguarding the biodiversity that makes this area so special.

Historical Echoes

Beyond its natural wonders, Heckert Nature Preserve is steeped in history. It is believed that a trading post once operated near the park in the 1700s, serving as a crucial portage site for Native Americans. The 1800s saw part of the preserve incorporated into the now-defunct village of Olentangy, revealing layers of human history that have shaped the land. The nearby Seccaium Park, which was an early 1900s amusement park, adds another layer of historical intrigue to the area, though it now remains privately owned.

A Commitment to Conservation

Dedicated in 2006 and acquired through Clean Ohio Funds with a portion donated by Gerald Heckert, the preserve is a living laboratory for conservation efforts. The Park District’s ongoing monitoring and surveying of the area’s plants and animals contribute to the understanding and preservation of Crawford County’s rich biodiversity. This commitment ensures that Heckert Nature Preserve remains a vital part of Ohio’s ecological and historical heritage.

Visit Heckert Nature Preserve

Location: 1601 SR 19 — Parking is on the south side, just before the Seccaium Park curve

For those seeking an immersive experience in nature’s beauty and history, Heckert Nature Preserve offers an unparalleled opportunity. Whether you’re an avid hiker, a history enthusiast, or simply in search of tranquility, this preserve promises a journey through the heart of Ohio’s natural and historical landscapes.

Source: Crawford Park District; Image by 👀 Mabel Amber, who will one day from Pixabay