Located between Whitehouse and Swanton, Oak Openings Preserve takes its name from the surrounding region, which is 23 times larger than the park itself. Still, at 5,000 acres, Oak Openings Preserve is the largest of the Metroparks -- by far.
Oak Openings is home to the nation's only public treehouse village, two campgrounds and two cabins where families can immerse themselves in nature.
Pioneers trudging through the dense Great Black Swamp named this area the “Oak Openings” because of the widely-spaced oaks dotting vast prairies, which made travel a breeze compared to the quagmire they endured to reach this beautiful oasis.
The natural habitats in the park range from oak savanna to wetlands to vegetated sand. The Nature Conservancy once named the sandy region one of the 200 “Last Great Places on Earth.”
Prickly-pear cactus, wild lupine and sand cherry bloom atop dry, hot dunes just yards away from orchids thriving in low, wet swales.
Oak Openings is a birder's paradise. It is the nesting place of bluebirds, indigo buntings, whippoorwills, Lark sparrows and many other species, as well as an excellent location to see migrating songbirds in the spring.
Stands of isolated pine and spruce planted decades ago are still visible, though many are nearing the end of their life. While not natural to the region, the spectacle of thousands of pines planted in straight rows create an irresistible scene for photographers.
There are more than 70 miles of trail in the preserve, including a network of horse trails that attract riders from around the state, a dedicated cross-country ski trail and a popular singletrack (mountain bike trail).
A book about northwest Ohio's incredible Oak Openings Region, first published by Metroparks in the 1940s, is now available to a new generation, now illustrated with more than 50 photographs.
If you visit Oak Openings Preserve or the surrounding region in the spring or the summer, you may have heard a Red-shouldered hawk loudly calling a repeated “kee-errr” or may have even caught sight of one flying above. As a member of the buteo group, they are robust, soaring raptors with broad wings and a wide tail. Several black and white bands on the underside of the tail and light, rusty-red barring across the chest and belly make for easy identification components.