Boone County Cliffs State Nature Preserve

Boone County Cliffs, although only 74 acres in size, is well worth a visit during breeding season. Owned by the Nature Conservancy, the area features mature woodland on steep hillsides, and includes a small spring-fed stream. This is the most reliable spot close to Cincinnati for Worm-eating Warbler. Several can usually be heard, and sometimes seen, during a typical visit.

To reach Boone County Cliffs, take the Burlington/Kentucky 18 West exit on I-75. About six miles after passing through Burlington, at the end of a long, winding hill, turn left onto Middle Creek Road. If you reach Kentucky 20, you went too far. The parking area for the preserve is just before the end of the road, on the left side. Follow the trail which leaves from the left side of the parking lot. Shortly after the top of a very steep hill, the trail forks. The right fork leads back to the parking lot, but you will want to keep to the left for the longer loop, through much better birding habitat.

The Worm-eating Warblers can be found in any of the steep ravines along the trail. The Nature Conservancy requests that you please stay on the trail. Just be patient; the birds are there, and you are just as likely to find them from the trail as you would be if you went trampling through the wildflowers.

Louisiana Waterthrush is often found along the stream at the start of the trail. You can expect Pileated Woodpecker, Hooded Warbler, Ovenbird, Kentucky Warbler, and Scarlet and Summer Tanager almost anywhere along the trail. Blue-winged Warbler and Yellow-breasted Chat are found about halfway around the trail, in a scrubby area. Broad-winged Hawk and Barred Owl breed here, but are missed more often than found. Veery and Swainson’s Thrush are likely during migration.

Take your time driving in along Middle Creek Road. You can expect Cerulean Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler and Northern Parula in the wooded area near the start of the road. After the road leaves the woods, Eastern Kingbird, Orchard Oriole and Northern Bobwhite can be seen along the road, and Black Vulture should be looked for overhead.