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  • At-A-Glance
  • What to Look For
  • Noteworthy Rarities
  • Natural Features
  • Local Resources
  • 20 - Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve

    Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority
    1100 West 9th Street - Suite 300
    Cleveland, OH 44113


    Public Access

    Open during daylight hours; permit no longer necessary


    Hiking Trails

    GPS Coordinates

    N 41° 32'41.40"; W 81° 37'58.20"

    Driving Directions

    Take I-90 East to the University Circle/Martin Luther King Jr Drive exit (#177) and turn left (north) onto Martin Luther King Jr Drive. Go under the I-90 overpass and immediately turn left (west) onto the North Marginal.

    What to Look For

    The 88 acres now known as the Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve began life in 1979 as a dredge impoundment to contain spoils excavated from the Cuyahoga River. Sediments were deposited in the basin until 1999, and since that time the formerly open mudflats have grown over with a variety of woody and herbaceous plants. Birders who are long familiar with the site will recall that it was originally known as Gordon Park (the name of the adjacent state park), then Dike 14, before it was branded with its current name.

    About 280 species of birds have been recorded to date, and spring and fall migration can bring spectacular fallouts of birds. The preserve is particularly noteworthy for the numbers and variety of sparrows that can occur in autumn, with October the peak month. On a big day, well over a thousand individuals might be noted, which might include Chipping, Field, Savannah, Song, Lincoln's, Swamp, White-throated, and White-crowned sparrows. Other, scarcer sparrow species are possible and one-day tallies of 15 species of sparrows are not unheard of.

    Fall migration is good for a great diversity of warblers, including Orange-crowned Warbler, and most other songbirds. Large numbers of Chimney Swifts often congregate overhead in late fall, and good numbers of American Pipits, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings can be heard flying over.

    Noteworthy Rarities

    There are many records of Le Conte's and Nelson's sparrows, and these shy skulkers are undoubtedly annual fall visitors. One of Ohio's few Say's Phoebe records comes from here, and Northern Saw-whet and Long-eared owls are sometimes found in thick grapevine tangles or in the ornamental conifers just south of the preserve. In its early days, much of the impoundment was open mudflat, which created excellent shorebird habitat. Ohio's first—and still one of only two—record of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was found here, in October 1984.

    Natural Features

    The Cleveland Museum of Natural History is only ten minutes to the south, at 1 Wade Oval Drive, University Circle, Cleveland OH 44106-1767. The museum can be reached at 216.231.4600, or by visiting their website. There is always an interesting array of exhibits and programs, and a large collection of stuffed birds in dioramas is housed in the museum.

    Calvary Cemetery is located at 10000 Miles Road, a few miles due south of Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve. It is locally renowned for its wintering Merlins. As many as three birds can be present, and sometimes good numbers of winter finches can be found.

    Local Resources

    Calvary Cemetery
    Cleveland Lakefront Nature Preserve
    Positively Cleveland
    Western Cuyahoga Audubon Society
    Wildwood Park/Villa Angela

    Nearby Lake Access Sites

    Euclid Beach Area. A nearly 19-acre lakefront site that is part of the Cleveland Metroparks' Lakefront Reservation. There is a sandy beach, and the park offers great vistas of Lake Erie. The park is located on the north side of Lake Shore Boulevard (State Route 283) just east of 165th Street.

    Villa Angela/Wildwood areas. These two sites, which are separated by Euclid Creek, are part of the Cleveland Lakefront State Park system, and of the six sites that make up the park, these are the easternmost. There is almost a half-mile of sand beach, and a fishing pier provides good lake-watching opportunites. The parks are at the northern terminus of East 174th Street, just north of Lake Shore Boulevard (State Route 283).