2018 Annual Conference: Hiking and birding in Northeast Ohio

Contributed by the Ohio Chapter of TWS

Purple sandpipers are one of many species that birders may catch a glimpse of on the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland. ©Alberto_VO5

Don’t forget to pack your binoculars when you come to Cleveland! With it’s location on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland provides a great opportunity to check off species on your birding list, including rare species like the red phalarope and purple sandpiper.

Early October will bring some of the early migrants, including waterfowl, to the Cleveland area.  For those that don’t want to travel far from the convention center, start your mornings out with some fresh air and a short 10-minute walk to the lakeshore looking for birds. On calmer days birds can be found inside the breakwall. But if it’s windy, the birds can often be found congregating in the marinas and bays.

For those wanting a unique experience, a one-hour drive to the west brings you to Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, one of only two Great Lakes-type freshwater estuaries in the country, which can provide some more great birding opportunities.

If you’re feeling even more adventurous, take an extra day before or after the conference to travel the Lake Erie Birding Trail, featuring 88 stops on seven loops stretching along the shores of lake, including a Cleveland loop. While not required, a guidebook can be purchased for just $13 from Ohio State University’s online bookstore if you would like more detailed information about each stop.

The Cleveland Metroparks offer more than 100 hiking trails and some of the best hiking in the area, for those looking to pack their hiking boots as well. There is a trail for everyone — from the beaches of Lakefront Reservation, Squire’s Castle at North Chagrin Reservation, the Watershed Stewardship Center at West Creek Reservation, or a hike along the steep shale cliffs in the Rocky River Reservation.

Just 25-minutes away is Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Ohio’s only National Park, which emphasizes the cultural and natural history of the Cuyahoga River valley. Brandywine Falls, a 65-foot waterfall, is a local favorite. Or stop by the Canal Exploration Center, which highlights the history of the Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath, used in the early 1800s to connect Lake Erie with the Ohio River. For a unique experience, take a trip through the National Park on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Tickets can be purchased through their website starting in July.

So grab your backpack, binoculars and hiking books, and we’ll see you in Cleveland!

To learn more about our 25th Annual Conference, visit www.twsconference.org.