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Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve
15681 Old Rider Road
Burton Township
Open daily 6 AM to 9 PM

Sign coordinates N 41° 26.559 W 81° 10.854

Burton Wetlands
  • About this Park
  • Trails
  • Habitat
  • Directions

Burton Wetlands Nature Preserve in Burton Township is a 305-acre parcel that includes the Charles Dambach Preserve. Located within the upper Cuyahoga River watershed, Burton Wetlands was officially dedicated in 1999 as an Ohio State Nature Preserve. It is Geauga Park District’s intent to protect this natural area in perpetuity.

Burton Wetlands grew through a series of acquisitions in the 1980s. The property surrounding Lake Kelso, purchased from Eric Westgren, once housed a private fishing club from the 1950s to the 1970s. The Dambach Preserve, named for renowned conservationist and onetime Burton resident Charles A. Dambach, was previously owned by The Nature Conservancy.

More than 1.5 mile of trails travel through Burton Wetlands. Download the trail map here.

The parking area off Old Rider Road marks the head of two trails, one heading to the east towards Lake Kelso, the other to the west into Dambach Preserve. The pergola provides a convenient and comfortable assembly area for small groups at the head of the .22-mile Glacier Trail, which leads from the parking lot to the boardwalk and observation deck overlooking Lake Kelso. These allow closer observation of wildlife and the bog habitat, and also maintain safe and easy access over sensitive wetlands.

The 1.12-mile Kettle Trail, located on the west side of Old Rider Road, enables hikers and cross-country skiers to get a closer look at the rolling glacial topography of a large meadow, as well as a forest with oak, beech, and maple trees. Visit a beaver pond, observe native white pines and see lush ferns on the eastern edge of the Wild Calla Kettle.

Today, Burton Wetlands remains part of a 1,000-acre system of kettle bogs, lower slope seeps, and wet flats known as the Cuyahoga Wetlands, an area that has remained relatively undisturbed since the last Ice Age. In addition to Burton Wetlands, Ohio’s finest remaining wetlands also include the neighboring White Pine Bog Forest, owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy, and Fern Lake, owned and managed by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Together, Geauga Park District, The Nature Conservancy, the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and the City of Akron, which also owns land in the region, are instrumental in the cooperative management and preservation of the ecologically significant Cuyahoga Wetlands and its threatened and endangered species.

Some of the uncommon animal species found here include northern waterthrush, veery, spotted turtle, and four-toed salamander. Bird watchers will not be disappointed, as at various times throughout the year, bald eagles, ospreys, tundra swans, common loons, and a wide variety of migrating ducks and geese are spotted on Lake Kelso.

Due to the vulnerability of park's aquatic habitats, public boating and fishing is not permitted on Lake Kelso.

Click the map below to see Burton Wetlands plotted by Google Maps and get directions.

From Akron and points south: Travel I-422 to Route 44 exit. Take OH-44 exit toward Chardon. Turn left on Ravenna Road/OH-44. Right on Burton Heights Rd. Burton Hts Rd. become Rider Rd. Travel 1 mile to the park entrance on the east side of the road.

From Erie and points north: Travel south on Route 44 approximately 1 mile south of Route 87. Turn east onto Burton Heights Blvd. Follow Burton Heights Blvd. approximately 1 mile, around the bend to Old Rider Road. Cross Hotchkiss Road. Travel 1 mile to the park entrance on the east side of the road.

From Cleveland and points west: Travel east on I-422. Take OH-44 exit toward Chardon. Turn left on Ravenna Road/OH-44. Right on Burton Heights Rd. Burton Hts Rd. become Rider Rd. Travel 1 mile to the park entrance on the east side of the road.