Gilmore Ponds is a 200-acre wetland nestled in the midst of an industrial park within the city limits of Hamilton, Ohio. Recently added to Ohio’s “Watchable Wildlife” list, Gilmore Ponds is bordered by two tributaries, Walker’s Run to the east, and the historic Miami-Erie Canal to the north. There is one permanent body of water, Old Ice Pond, which is just that–an old ice pond used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide ice for use in Cincinnati-area breweries–and three larger ponds that flood seasonally and provide the best habitat for breeding and migrating waterfowl, shorebirds and long-legged waders such as Great Egrets, Black Crowned Night Herons, Green Herons and Great Blue Herons.
Numbers are greatest in the spring and fall during migration, but if the spring is wet enough Gilmore Ponds is sure to be host to a number of wetland birds, some of which even breed there from time to time. Among the usual visitors and sometime-breeders are Pied-billed Grebe, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Green Heron, Black Crowned Night Heron, Least Bittern, Prothonotary Warbler, and Willow Flycatcher. Rusty Blackbirds are often seen in season, while a walk along the Symmes Road dike in late February and early March evenings is almost guaranteed to offer an excellent opportunity for observing the aerial courtship flights of Woodcock.
To reach Gilmore Ponds, take the Route Four Bypass to Symmes Road. If you are traveling north on the bypass, turn left onto Symmes; if traveling South, turn right. There is limited parking off of Symmes Road across from the entrance to Beck Boulevard, but this could disappear anytime now when the city of Hamilton widens Symmes Road. Therefore, you are better off continuing west on Symmes Road until you reach Gilmore Road, the first intersection. There is a National Guard building on the right side of the road. Turn right onto Gilmore Road and travel about a quarter mile. Look for a park sign and a paved parking lot on the right side of the road. You can’t miss it.
There are three loop trails for hiking at Gilmore Ponds, as well as an observation tower and two raised decks that provide good vantage points in any season, but particularly when water conditions are good. Beware, though, that if the water is up, portions of the trails are inaccessible, to say the least!