Trillium Trails is a 23-acre designated State Nature Preserve that is owned and managed by Great Parks of Hamilton County. State Nature Preserves have special protections by the State of Ohio that limit development to ensure the natural features remain unspoiled for future generations.
The land that would become Trillium Trails was previously owned by the Benedict family. By the early 1900s, most of their property, as well as the surrounding landscape, had been cleared for agriculture. However, a small section of about 15 acres of forest was preserved. Each spring, the Benedict family took wildflower hikes in these woods and recorded annual blooming dates for species like Harbinger of spring (Erigenia bulbosa), yellow corydalis (Pseudofumaria lutea) and bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis).
In the 1960s, Sam Benedict donated 85 acres to the Park District, including those 15 acres of remnant forest. The high biodiversity of the forest led to its dedication as a State Nature Preserve. In order to meet the criteria of a State Nature Preserve, a natural area must contain outstanding remnants of Ohio’s natural heritage. Trillium Trails meets these special criteria because of its mature forest and diverse display of spring wildflowers, many of which are rare in our region. Walking through the woods of Trillium Trails is like walking through a tract of Ohio’s pre-settlement past.
Because of the foresight of these previous land managers, the natural community of that forest has been preserved, and because of their generosity, this natural treasure can be carefully shared with the public. Remnant natural areas like Trillium Trails are so small compared to the surrounding landscape, and so they are under great pressure from the effects of development.
One way Great Parks balances conservation with recreation is by limiting access to sensitive areas like Trillium Trails. However, Great Parks nature interpreters still lead spring wildflower hikes where members of the public, much like the Benedict family in the 1930s, can experience the beauty of these woods and learn about our rarest natural ecosystems.
Great Parks of Hamilton County owns and manages four other dedicated State Nature Preserves: Sharon Woods Gorge, Spring Beauty Dell at Winton Woods, The Greenbelt at Winton Woods, and Newberry Wildlife Sanctuary. Sharon Woods Gorge State Nature Preserve is the most accessible and can be visited by hiking the Gorge Trail at Sharon Woods. In addition to these state-designated preserves, Great Parks protects many other high-quality natural areas within the parks.
Because these habitats are sensitive to disturbance, development and access is often limited to preserve the unusual species that live within them. Some of the most important conservation work that Great Parks’ does is “behind the scenes” in these out-of-the-way natural areas, but this is necessary to give the plants and animals the space and conditions they need to thrive in a highly-populated county.
Daniel Kovar, Conservation Biologist & Jack Stenger, Conservation Biologist