The focus of this trip will be blooming prairie wildflowers and butterflies. In 1992, Great Parks, aka the Hamilton County Park District, 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. It’s also happens to be a great time to see a diversity of butterflies.
Identifying all of these plants and butterflies can be a challenge. But we have two more than able leaders to help us in that regard, Jim Mundy (Preserves) and Ned Keller (President), both of whom are current board members of our Audubon Society.
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. Ned will modestly say that he is no expert on botany or butterflies but he is very knowledgeable on both subjects. He is also an expert birder so we should have things pretty well covered on this field trip.
The 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, and butterflies and birds and for that matter any other aspects of nature we come across.
This trip will end around noon. Walking will be slow and level but we will be on our feet for 3 to 4 hours. Some places are likely to be damp as we will at times walk along a marsh. To make your trip more comfortable we suggest bringing water, sun screen, insect repellant and if you have any, binoculars. 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 or Ned 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.