Oak Openings Preserve

4139 Girdham Rd.
Swanton , OH 43558

419-407-9700   |  https://metroparkstoledo.com/explore-your-parks/oak-openings/
Daily 7 a.m. until dark

The Preservation of Oak Openings

The Oak Openings Region continues to endure most significantly through Oak Openings Preserve, which offers travelers an experience like no other in the world.

The Oak Openings Region is a unique ecosystem that developed thousands of years ago when sand was deposited here by an ancient river delta flowing out of the Detroit area. The name refers to oak savannas, which are large forested areas with widely spaced trees. The openings under the tall white and black oak trees allowed light to filter in, creating numerous habitats for a wide variety of plant species. The region is a globally rare habitat, with oak woodlands, savannas, wet prairies, swamp forests, sedge meadows, and sand barrens all visible in Oak Openings Preserve. This rare ecosystem survived because of a public push for its conservation. The conservation movement of the early 1900s influenced civilians and officials to preserve and protect scenic spaces and rare natural resources. In 1931 the Toledo Metropolitan Board acquired 273 acres of land in the Oak Openings Region with the intent of preserving it from development. Over the years, Metroparks has acquired more of the Oak Openings land and expanded the preserve’s area, making it the largest holding in the Toledo Metropark system at a total of about 5,000 acres. Today, the preserve is mostly comprised of vegetated dunes and differing wetlands.

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Notes for Travelers

The Oak Openings Region was named one of the 200 Last Great Places on Earth by the Nature Conservancy and supports a rare ecosystem like no other place in the world. Visitors to Oak Openings can traverse trails that cut through the area, allowing an immersive experience of the native habitats and its species of plants, animals, and insects. Buehner Center, located on the Preserve, is available for public rental and offers one of the Metroparks Toledo’s Window on Wildlife experiences where visitors can view the area without disrupting the wildlife. Oak Openings has two campgrounds, a Caretaker’s Cottage, and the Pine Ridge Chalet that offer prolonged visits to this unique area.

Additional Resources

Wild Ohio: The Best of Our Natural Heritage, James S. McCormac and Gary Meszaros.