New trails and walk focus on pollinators
Strolling through wildflowers and butterflies might sound idyllic – but area residents can actually do just that, thanks to two new walking trails.
“We’ve never seen more butterflies than on that trail,” said Aurora resident Chrys Cook. Cook is on the Board of Oak Heritage Conservancy, the local nonprofit that has opened the new trails. She recently led a “Pollinator Walk” at Hilltop Farm Nature Preserve in West Harrison.
Oak Heritage has a new, 2-mile walking trail at the preserve. The path wanders through a meadow and forest, crosses a creek, and then makes a loop around a recently restored “pollinator” habitat.
“We took 13 acres of old hay fields and planted in native wildflowers and grasses of all shapes and sizes,” said OHC Executive Director Liz Brownlee. “Our pollinator habitat is providing food and shelter for butterflies, bees, and birds.”
The pollinator planting, and the new walking trail, were supported by grants from the Dearborn Community Foundation and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Visitors can see the wildflower planting and hike on the trail any time from January through October.
The parking area for the trail is located near the intersection of Stout and Kocher Roads. Visitors can find driving directions to the preserve by entering “Hilltop Farm Nature Preserve” in Google Maps.
“This preserve has been ‘open’ to the public for years,” said Brownlee, “but now the parking lot is safer, and we have a new walking entrance for hikers. Before, visitors encountered a padlock at the parking lot. Now there’s an entrance and a sign welcoming visitors to the preserve and our new trail. The grant from the Dearborn Community Foundation has let us turn this preserve into a community space.”
The only time the preserve isn’t open to visitors is during deer hunting season, when local Oak Heritage members hunt on the 119-acre preserve to control the deer population.
Oak Heritage has opened another new trail in nearby Ohio County. The community group purchased the property at auction in December, after a whirlwind fundraising effort. All told, over 100 families, businesses, and foundations contributed. In just three weeks, they raised approximately $250,000 to purchase the 80 acres.
This spring, they purchased an adjacent four acres, making the preserve almost 85 acres.
“The preserve has some of the most remarkable monarch butterfly habitat around,” said Cook.
Milkweed and butterfly weed, two plants that monarchs need to feed and for laying their young, grow in abundance on the property.
Oak Heritage is opening the walking trail on this property Saturday, August 25.
“We were going to host a ‘Monarch Walk’ on the 25th, but we’ve seen so many different types of butterflies there this summer that we’ve changed the name to a ‘Butterfly Walk,’” said Brownlee.
The walk starts at 10 a.m., and will cover rolling, grassy terrain through wildflowers. The event is free and family-friendly. Visitors can hope to see monarchs and many other types of butterflies, as well as wildflowers.
After Aug. 25, the trail will be open to visitors. There is not yet a parking area on the property, so visitors should park at their own risk along Dibble Road. Visitors can find driving directions to the preserve by entering
“Monarch Meadows Nature Preserve” in Google Maps.
The group is also hosting a scavenger hunt on the property Sunday, Sept 30. The event is part of the Great Outdoor Weekend, when organizations host over 100 outdoors activities in the Cincinnati area. The event is free and family-friendly. Anyone can drop in from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Oak Heritage has one other “pollinator” themed event up their sleeves this Fall: their Annual Dinner, on Friday, Oct. 19, will focus on pollinators.
Their speaker is Andy Ertel, who has helped lead a community-wide effort to establish 300 pollinator habitats in Jennings County. They set out to reach this goal in three years – but they’ve actually planted over 800.
Guests can hear about the award-winning effort in Jennings County and get to know other nature-lovers at the October 19 event in Rising Sun. For ticket information, visit Oak Heritage Conservancy’s website, www.oakheritageconservancy.org.