Shaker Trace Wetlands at Miami Whitewater Forest

The wetlands area of Miami-Whitewater Forest, a Hamilton County Park, has become perhaps the best area for marsh birding in southwest Ohio, surpassing even Spring Valley. Pied-billed Grebe, American Bittern, Least Bittern, Blue-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Virginia Rail, Sora, Common Moorhen, American Coot, Sedge Wren, and Marsh Wren are among the summer residents which are otherwise very difficult to find in our area. The area is good for dabbling ducks and fair for diving ducks in migration. Common Snipe are abundant in early spring, and other migrant shorebirds may be found in numbers that vary with water levels.

The wetlands are surrounded by fields, which the Park District is in the process of converting from cropland to prairie. Grasshopper and Savannah Sparrows are present in summer, while Northern Harrier and Short-eared Owl have been found in the winter. Dickcissel and Upland Sandpiper appear occasionally in migration.

One advantage which Spring Valley still holds over this area is access. There is no boardwalk into the marsh such as may be found at Spring Valley. The only official trail into the area, Shaker Trace, is designed for skateboards and bicycles, and misses most of the better birding areas.

To reach the Miami-Whitewater wetlands, take the Dry Fork Exit (exit 3) from I-74. Coming from Cincinnati, turn right onto Dry Fork, right onto New Haven (2.3 miles), left on Oxford (0.7), and left again on Baughman (0.1). Park on the right in a dirt area just past a small pond (0.6). Walk back to the pond, and follow the dike out to the north into the fields, following the unofficial birder’s paths. Another group of ponds, which is good for ducks but not so productive for marsh birds, may be found on the other side of Baughman Road, another hundred yards past the parking area. These ponds may also be viewed from New Haven Road.