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  • At-a-Glance
  • What to Look For
  • Noteworthy Rarities
  • Natural Features
  • Local Resources
  • 84 - Irwin Prairie State Nature Preserve

    Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Natural Areas and Preserves
    9987 W. Bancroft
    Holland, OH 43528


    Public Access

    Open daily from sunrise to sunset


    Hiking Trails, Handicap Accessible Trails

    GPS Coordinates

    N 41° 39'23.17"; W 83° 46'54.89"

    Driving Directions

    From I-475/U.S. Route 23, follow U.S. Route 20 west approximately 3 miles to Centennial Road; south about 1 mile to Bancroft Street; and then west on Bancroft Street to the preserve entrance. Parking lot and trail system present.

    What to Look For

    In the Oak Openings, shifts in elevation of just a few feet mean radical changes in plant communities. Dry sandy ridges support black oak and other upland species, while low-lying areas are often permanently saturated. Irwin Prairie is of the latter type, and its dominant feature is a massive twig-rush wet prairie that covers much of the 226-acre preserve. A boardwalk that is over a mile in length offers easy access to the wetlands. Spring—April and May—is the most productive season, but be aware that the incredibly loud din raised by legions of spring peepers and western chorus frogs can down out the birds near dusk. An early evening stroll should produce displaying American Woodcock and Wilson's Snipe—this is one of few breeding sites in Ohio for the latter. Listen for both bitterns, and Virginia Rail and Sora. Some years, both Alder and Willow flycatchers are present, as well as Marsh and Sedge wrens.

    Noteworthy Rarities

    There are a number of records of Yellow Rail from along the boardwalk. Late April and May is the time to listen for this secretive species. A Black Rail was found here in 1980. Bell's Vireo once bred here and could turn up again, and Canada and Mourning warblers have summered. There are a number of records of Connecticut Warbler from the scruffy woods at the end of the boardwalk; late May is the time to seek this rare migrant.

    Natural Features

    At least 18 species of state-listed rare plants occur in the preserve. In late fall, fringed gentian (Gentianopsis crinita) can be found along the boardwalk. The endangered grass-leaved arrowhead (Sagittaria graminea) can be seen in bloom in May near the observation tower at the fair end of the boardwalk. An endangered dragonfly, the frosted whiteface, was found in the preserve in 2010.