Hidden Gems: Johnson Nature Preserve

Southwest Ohio comes alive in the spring, and if you’re looking for a new, off-the-beaten-path place to stretch your legs, consider Johnson Nature Preserve.

Tucked away at the border of Montgomery and Blue Ash, Johnson Nature Preserve is a total hidden gem that’s just the right size for kids. The .35-mile loop is a great hike for little legs, and the preserve features an abundance of plants and wildlife.

Deer scamper throughout the Johnson Nature Preserve’s very accessible seven acres, which is also home to birds, turtles and other Ohio wildlife. Wildflowers bloom along the trail. A wooden bridge halfway through the path provides lots of entertainment for kids.

If your kids are older, hike through Johnson Nature Preserve and into the Harris M. Benedict Nature Preserve, a 65-acre site owned by UC for research on deciduous plants and animals. It’s actually a national preserve, because of the amount of rare species that have been found there.

If you were a Southwest Ohio resident in 1999, you’ll remember the devastating tornado that hit the area. Montgomery was one of the areas most affected, and the nature preserve stands as a testament to the tornado’s damage. Some 90% of the trees at the Johnson Nature Preserve were destroyed. Animal habitats were completely wiped out. Native plants were violently uprooted. In the 20 years since, the preserve has flourished, with new trees and foliage sprouting throughout. (The wind from the tornado actually dispersed seeds across the preserve, resulting in the abundance of plant life you’ll see today.) Johnson Nature Preserve serves as a timely reminder that out of devastation can come beauty.

With most of us still cautiously dipping our toes into 2021, Mother Nature is boldly playing by her own rules. Spring is arriving in Ohio, and we’re bearing witness to the most delightful changing of seasons. Trees are blossoming, flowers are blooming, temps are climbing and birds are providing a joyful spring soundtrack. It’s a much-needed reminder that this season we’re in, too, shall pass.

10840 Deerfield Rd., Montgomery | montgomeryohio.org/johnson-nature-preserve


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