Bluebell Valley Open to the Public

Just in time for visitors to experience the peak colors of fall, Medina County Park District has opened its newest natural area: Bluebell Valley in Harrisville Township located at 8500 Richman Road.

The 87-acre site is under the umbrella of Black River Nature Preserve, which includes Hidden Hollow Camp (open by reservation only) and the future East Fork area. Together, they protect more than 400 acres of woodlands, meadows, and streams in the headwaters region of Northeast Ohio’s Black River.

“If you’ve come to Hidden Hollow Camp for an event, you know how special this river corridor is,” said Medina County Park District Director Nathan Eppink. “Over the past several years, our natural resource team has carried out major restoration work designed to protect the water quality of the Black River and rebuild native habitats that attract the birds, butterflies, and wildlife visitors love to see. We’re excited to finally open this nature preserve for public access. It’s the first of many more great things to come for this ecologically rich area of Medina County.”

Bluebell Valley includes a 0.5-mile compacted limestone trail (accessible for wheelchairs and strollers) and a 0.65-mile mowed, natural-surface trail. In terms of hiking difficulty, both are rated as easy, though footing on the natural-surface trail can be uneven. The trails loop around fields of warm-season prairie grasses that provide forage for pollinators and cover for migrating birds to rest and refuel. Visitors will encounter multiple habitats within a relatively short span, including woods, restored wetlands, and an overlook of the preserve’s namesake — a floodplain carpeted in spring-blooming Virginia bluebell wildflowers along the West Fork of the East Branch of the Black River.

Nature preserves offer fewer amenities and activities than parks in order to minimize disruption to plants and wildlife. Phase One improvements at Bluebell Valley include the trails and a 20-space gravel parking lot. Phase Two, slated for 2021, will include a small picnic shelter and restroom. Leashed pets are welcome in nature preserves; however, bicycles are not permitted.

For details, download the Bluebell Valley trail guide at www.MedinaCountyParks.com. A virtual ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place in the coming weeks. Follow Medina County Park District on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more

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