Mentor Marsh, one of the largest natural marshes remaining along the Lake Erie shoreline, became Ohio’s first state nature preserve in 1971. The marsh is an important breeding and nursery area for several fish that live in Lake Erie.
Mentor Marsh and the adjacent Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve are among the best places in the state to witness spring migrations of songbirds. Great numbers of waterfowl also stop at the marsh during seasonal migrations, such as blue-winged teal, American wigeon, gadwall, American black duck, Northern shoveler and hooded merganser.
Hours & Directions
Mentor Marsh trails are open year-round, dawn to dusk. The Carol H. Sweet Nature Center is open to the public Saturdays and Sundays noon to 5 pm from April through October. From November through March, the Nature Center is open 11 am to 4 pm the first Sunday of the month. Special nature programs and guided hikes are offered every Sunday the Nature Center is open at 2 pm. Hikes are free with registration. During the week, programs for groups are available by appointment at a nominal charge. For more information, call the Nature Center at (440) 257-0777.
The Nature Center is located at 5185 Corduroy Road, Mentor. From Cleveland, take Ohio Route 2 east and exit at Ohio Route 44. Go north on Route 44 about a half mile to the Ohio Route 283 overpass (Lakeshore Boulevard). Go west on Lakeshore to Corduroy Road. A right on to Corduroy will take you to the Nature Center. To reach the northern portion of Mentor Marsh, take Ohio Route 44 north to Headlands Road. Turn left (west) on Headlands. You will see signs for the Zimmerman Trail to the south.
On January 8, 1960, the Carrol Hill Plan for the “Mentor Regional Park Development” came to the attention of Harold Zimmerman, president of the Burroughs Nature Club, and two other members of the club’s conservation committee. The club discussed the threat to Mentor Marsh with their membership, and several groups (including the Museum) became involved in an effort to protect the marsh. On April 7, 1961, the first Mentor Marsh Committee meeting was held at Holden Arboretum. Then-Museum director William Scheele was a member from the committee’s inception.
On June 28, 1961, The Nature Conservancy agreed to become involved in the project. Through Scheele’s efforts, several Museum trustees, including Harold T. Clark, many Lake County citizens and The Nature Conservancy worked together to raise money and negotiate a purchase agreement for an 80-acre tract owned by the New York Central Railroad. During the public campaign to buy the New York Central tract, the Morton Salt Company donated 320 acres and Diamond Alkali donated 90 acres to preserve the marsh. Two hundred twenty-three acres of the Morton Salt Company land was donated to the Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation in 1964 and was leased to the Museum in 1965).
In 1964, the Museum board of trustees agreed to accept custodianship of Mentor Marsh.
The Museum acquired 420 acres of Mentor Marsh property in 1965 and approved setting up a Mentor Marsh Committee consisting of board members and members of the original Mentor Marsh Committee. Additional gifts and purchases since 1965 have brought the amount of land managed by the Museum, as the Mentor Marsh Preserve, to 691 acres.
In 1971, Mentor Marsh was dedicated as the first State Nature Preserve. In 1973, the Museum and the state of Ohio signed an agreement that made Mentor Marsh an Interpretive Nature Preserve. The Mentor Marsh Committee continues to raise stewardship and education funds for Mentor Marsh from annual appeals.
In April 2003, fire destroyed the Wake Robin Trail Boardwalk. It was replaced the same year and formally dedicated on November 13, 2003 along with a $5,000 check presentation by the Lubrizol Corporation to offset the cost of the $84,000 boardwalk.