The West Woods is a 902-acre park that
protects the historic sandstone ledges of Ansel’s
Cave, Silver Creek and its watershed, extensive
wetlands and mature forests. It is Geauga Park District’s intent
to protect this natural area in perpetuity, and utilize
the nature center to provide quality nature education.
According to local legend, Ansel’s Cave once sheltered
Civil War soldiers and munitions, runaway slaves on the
Underground Railroad, Prohibition-era bootleggers, and
Geauga County resident Ansel Savage. In the mid-1800’s, the David Robinson family set up
their homestead on land that would one day be part of
The West Woods. Remnants of the Robinson family cemetery
In 1933, Mr. W.H. Eisenman purchased 600
acres here and eventually donated 100 acres to ASM
International for their headquarters. In 1961, ASM
(American Society for Materials) purchased the remainder
of the homestead. The West Woods began taking shape in 1992 when Lewis and
Ruth Affelder offered the Park District 85 acres west of ASM. In 1994, the
Park District purchased 192 acres near ASM from Miller
& Company. In April of that same year, ASM offered
the Park District the opportunity to purchase more
than 500 acres. With support from local conservationist
William D. Ginn, who obtained a loan and spearheaded a successful fundraising campaign,
the preservation of this large parcel was possible. An
additional 100 acres were added in 1996 with the support
of neighbors and friends of the Park District, making
the park a true community treasure.
The West Woods is named after a story first published in
1885: A.G. Riddle’s The Young Sugar Makers of The
West Woods, which takes place where the park is now
The West Woods Nature Center houses innovative displays
and hands-on exhibits that explain how the geology
(rocks) and hydrology (water) of Geauga County gave rise
to the area’s diverse natural communities.
Two picnic shelters are available for reservations. Both
include electricity and nearby restrooms. There is no playground in The West Woods. Click here to reserve shelters.
Deer Run Shelter, Turkey Ridge Shelter
The Lewis & Ruth Affelder House is open for reservation by the public by phone or in person only, with groups not to exceed 24 persons. It will be made available for small group meetings and gatherings, but not youth groups to protect the sensitive ecosystem surrounding the facility. Please review the Affelder House guidelines here. The house offers a large meeting room with tables and chairs, wood burning fireplace, kitchenette with refrigerator and sink, and an outdoor patio with grill. No kitchen stove is provided. To reserve the Affelder House, call Geauga Park District at 440-286-9516.
The Affelder House
There are currently nearly 7 miles of trails in The West Woods, traversing through woodlands, across streams and past outcroppings of Sharon conglomerate. Enjoy the Discovery Trail, which leads visitors past vernal pools; take the Trout Lily Trail to Sunset Overlook; or follow Neighbors Way from the nature center to the picnic shelters. Download
the trail map here.
Pioneer Bridle Trail is open to horseback riders and hikers, making a large loop west of the nature center and connecting to the Music Street Link and Affelder Link trails. Horse trailer parking is available in the north parking lot.
Ansel’s Cave Trail leads from the picnic shelter area to Ansel’s Cave. Ansel’s Cave Link Trail provides additional access to and from the Nature Center.
The natural diversity of The West Woods is not only
pleasing to the eye; it provides refuge for a variety of
wildlife. Wetlands, mature forests, reclaimed farm
fields and Ansel’s Cave, which is composed of Sharon
conglomerate sandstone ledges, provide habitat for a
great number of plant and animal species. Three
tributaries of Silver Creek - a high quality
cold-water stream and a tributary of the Chagrin River -
have been used by the Ohio Department of Natural
Resource’s Division of Wildlife to successfully
reintroduce a “threatened” species of native brook trout.
Several potentially threatened species have been
identified in The West Woods, including the butternut
tree, closed gentian, blunt mountain mint wildflowers,
tall manna grass, and the mourning warbler. More than
100 species of fungi have been identified here, several
of which are rare in North America.
As the forest continues to mature, the undisturbed
habitat becomes increasingly valuable to wildlife,
including woodland songbirds like tanagers, warblers,
thrushes, vireos and flycatchers; pileated woodpeckers;
and barred owls and others that depend on sizable forest
stands with undisturbed interiors.
Frogs, toads and a large variety of salamanders benefit
from the abundance of seeps, springs, streams, and both
naturally occurring and manmade wetlands located within
Download the brochure on the The West Woods' Green Roof Building.
Download the brochure on The West Woods' green features.
Click the map below to see The West Woods plotted by Google Maps and get directions.
(Click here for a map and step-by-step directions to Affelder House.)
From Erie and points north: Travel I-90 to Route 306. Travel south
on Route 306 for approximately 12.7 miles to Route 87.
Turn east on Route 87, and travel 1.9 miles to the park
entrance on the south side of the road.
From Akron and points south: Travel I-422 to 306 exit. Turn north
onto Route 306, travel approximately 5.3 miles to Route
87. Turn east on Route 87, and travel for approximately
1.9 miles. Park entrance is on the south side of Route
From Warren and points east: Travel Route 87 approximately 3 miles
west of Auburn Road. Park entrance is on the south side
of Route 87.
From Cleveland and points west: From Cleveland and points west: Travel I-271 N to US 422W. Exit 29 Chagrin Blvd. OH -87. Travel Route OH-87 1.9 miles east of Route 306. Park entrance is on the south side of Route 87.