Bacon Woods TrailsVermilion River Reservation
Operated by Lorain County Metro Parks
Vermilion (Lorain County)
Access Bacon Woods area of Vermilion River Reservation from near the intersection of Vermilion Rd. and North Ridge Road, four miles south of Vermilion. The entrance is just before the road crosses the camel-back bridge over the Vermilion River.
Four interconnected loop trails span this area, for a total of approximately 3 miles if you follow the longest loop.
Duration: two to three Hours
Accessibility: slight to moderate slopes, wide boardwalks, fairly even surfaces.
This oxbow wetland was formed when the Vermilion River migrated to a new channel, leaving the old riverbed to hold water supplied by rain and during floods.
Trail DescriptionThe Hiking trails at Bacon Woods are well marked, with a large kiosk near the parking lot to orient the visitor. The first trail is the Bacon Woods Trail, which connects to the Sycamore Trail, Bluebird Trail, and Cooper's Hollow Trails in sequence. Although each trail is named separately, they form a single trail network and hence we have reviewed them together.
These hiking trails traverse the floodplain of the Vermilion River. As you enter the woods on the Bacon Woods Trail, the river is through the forest to the left. In the woods between the hiking trail and the river are a number of wetlands. Some of these ecologivally diverse areas are known as oxbow wetlands because they were formed when an old bend in the river is cut off as the river migrates and changes course over time.
These bends resemble an ox-yoke when viewed from the air. In and around these wetlands, you are likely to find standing water as well as some areas of open mud flats. Emergent vegetation growing in these areas includes burr reed, cat-tails, arrowhead, as well as a variety of rushes and sedges. You will not get a great view of these from the trail, but just a bit of the trail toward the river and you will be walking in them.
This nearly three foot diameter Sassafras tree is growing in the forest near the Bacon Woods Trail next to a small wetland.
Most of this system of trails is wooded, but as you pass from the Bacon Woods Trail to the Bluebird Trail, you will enter a large field where birdwatching is very fruitful. In addition to bluebirds, swifts and swallows, along these trails you may be pleasantly surprised by golden-winged warblers and other fascinating songbirds.
The Bottomland forests along these trails offer opportunities to observe not only birds and wetlands, but also a wide variety of wildflowers and tree species. Keep your eyes open for a very large Sassafras tree worth seeking out. It is at least 30 inches in diameter. These light loving pioneer trees are often found in smaller diameter along fence rows and near clearings, but to find one that is approaching thee feet in diameter is an amazing sight. A sycamore can be identified during the growing season by its three varieties of leaves. It has a simple smooth unlobed leaf, a mitten shaped leaf, and a three lobed leaf, all without teeth.
Another thing worth noting is that there are very few non-native invasive plants along the trail. This is a sign that this forest has not had much disturbance in the recent past. The trails are kept narrow enough to keep out excess light in most places, and the native plant diversity is high enough to keep non-natives from impacting these great floodplain plant communities.