The focus of this trip will be blooming prairie wildflowers. In 1992, Great Parks of Hamilton County began a native prairie and wetland restoration project of several hundred acres at Miami Whitewater Forest. The project has been a great success and today over 500 acres of a native grassland and wetland community is preserved. Often referred to as the Miami Whitewater wetlands, the entire complex is officially named Shaker Trace and represents the largest wetland/grassland complex in Hamilton County. Late summer is a great time to see these prairie plants in bloom in a stunning array of colors.
Identifying all of these plants can be a challenge. But our trip leader, Jim Mundy, is more than qualified in that regard. In fact Jim has probably planted a large percentage of these plants. Jim is recently retired from the Hamilton County Park District where he worked for almost 30 years in the Stewardship Department. Many of those years were spent working on the Shaker Trace project. Jim is a skilled botanist and overall naturalist and is also a board member of our Audubon Society Chapter and heads up our Preserves Committee.
Jims plan is to take a leisurely morning walk exploring the Shaker Trace complex with lots of stops to look at and identify plants, especially the prairie blooms. This is also a great time of year for butterflies and breeding birds will be at peak and Jim will make a point to identify these and any other wildlife we encounter.
This trip will end around noon. We will be on foot for the duration of the trip but the walking will be slow and level. Some places are likely to be damp as we will at times walk along a marsh. We can expect July 1st to be hot, so to make your trip more comfortable we suggest bringing water, sun screen, insect repellant and wearing a hat. Bring your binoculars if you have any.
Restrooms are available in other areas of the park but there are none at Shaker Trace. A Hamilton County Park Motor Vehicle Permit is required ($3.00 daily, $10:00 annual). Feel free to contact Jim if you have any questions. Directions: Take I-74 west to the Dry Fork Road exit # 3. Turn right onto Dry Fork Road (north) and go 2.2 miles to New Haven Road. Bear right (east) onto New Haven Road and go .8 mile to Oxford Road. Turn left onto Oxford Road and then immediately left again onto Baughman Road. Go .7 mile and look for the gravel parking lot on the right side (north) of the road just after passing the Bike/Hike Trail crosswalk.