Witness the return of Dayton’s only fen.

Woodman Fen

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This 33-acre natural area contains a rare groundwater-fed wetland known as a fen. Fens contain thick deposits of peat and support many rare and usual plants. Restoring the fen has included planting over 100 types of native wetland plants.

Main Entrance
2409 Newcastle Drive, Dayton OH 45420

 

Parking
Free parking is available.

Park Hours
Apr. 1 – Oct. 31, 8 AM – 10 PM
Nov. 1 – Mar. 31, 8 AM – 8 PM
Closed Christmas and New Year’s Day

Pet Policy
Dogs are welcome, but, for the safety and comfort of all patrons, must be leashed and under control at all times.

Park Features

Boardwalk

The 1,800-foot ADA accessible boardwalk snakes around the wetland and keeps your feet dry. It is the longest boardwalk in the MetroParks system and includes three small observation decks were visitors are able to view this stunning wetland. The boardwalk also includes a signage system that mark points of interest and provide educational information regarding the plant and animal species that can be observed in this rare ecosystem.

Nature Trail

The majority of Woodman Fen is covered by up to six feet of black muck and peat. Because peat is a soft and easily compressible substrate, dirt or gravel walking trails are not practical access routes through the wetland.

That said, there is a 0.6 mile loop nature trail. Be aware, the loop is messy! However, it offers an up-close look as some of the best birding in the region.

Iron Horse Trail

The 7 mile long Iron Horse Trail connects Centerville’s Iron Horse Park to the South with Creekside Trail to the north using a combination of trail, shared roadway and wide sidewalk. Along the way, the trail passes by the northern border of Woodman Fen near the Woodman Drive intersection. Exit the trail at Woodbine Ave to reach the park entrance.

Click to Explore

The 1,800-foot ADA accessible boardwalk snakes around the wetland. It includes three small observation decks were visitors are able to view this stunning wetland.

Take RTA Bus Route 11 east from downtown to the intersection of Woodman Dr. and Patterson Rd. Walk 0.7 miles to park via Patterson Rd. west to Flesher Ave. Head east four blocks to Eastgate. Turn right for half block until you reach Newcastle Dr. Left on Newcastle for one block. The park entrance at the end of the road.

Bike and pedestrian access is available via Iron Horse Trail with a .5 jaunt the adjacent neighborhood.

The boardwalk features a signage system that mark points of interest and provide educational information regarding the plant and animal species that can be observed in this rare ecosystem.

Alkaline wetlands, like Woodman Fen, were once very common throughout southwestern Ohio; however, due to increases in development, relatively few remain today.

These 33 acres were a victim of development, too. Because of the rich peat soils, this area was thought to be a good choice for growing crops. It was drained and vegetable crops were grown. Crop production was abandoned and the area became a dump. Five Rivers MetroParks purchased the land in 2003 and began restoring the fen. Invasive plants were removed and 20 tons of trash was hauled away. Water was restored with the elimination of drainage tiles and the installation of the sheet wall on the northern end of the fen. Many of the original plants began to return from dormant seed waiting in the soil for the right growing conditions. Five Rivers MetroParks staff and volunteers went to work planting another 10,000 plants to restore this diverse habitat you see today.

Fens provide important benefits to the watershed, such as filtering run off. A fen is different than a bog. A bog is filled from rainfall and run off and has more acidic soils, whereas a fen is feed by underground water sources, typically higher in calcium, so it is less acidic. A fen can support more diverse plant and animal communities.

The 7 mile long Iron Horse Trail connects Centerville’s Iron Horse Park to the South with Creekside Trail to the north using a combination of trail, shared roadway and wide sidewalk. Along the way, the trail passes by the northern border of Woodman Fen near the Woodman Drive intersection. Exit the trail at Woodbine Ave to reach the park entrance.

From spring to fall, many blooming plants will be on display, including skunk cabbage, queen of the prairie and jewelweed. Bird watchers will delight in the variety of species. Woodman Fen has one of the highest humming bird populations within Five Rivers MetroParks.

Local birders have called the fen a hotspot, sighting Great Horned Owls, Gnatcatchers, Warblers, Vireos, Orioles, Flycatchers and a variety of Thrush in recent years.

The majority of Woodman Fen is covered by up to six feet of black muck and peat. Because peat is a soft and easily compressible substrate, dirt or gravel walking trails are not practical access routes through the wetland. Boardwalks on the other hand, offer a safe trail surface, allowing individuals to experience this rare ecosystem.

That said, there is a 0.6 mile loop trail. Be aware, the loop is messy! However, it offers an up-close look as some of the best birding in the region.

As you explore along the boardwalk, you’ll forget you are in a city. The fen has soggy rich peat soils fed by underground water and run off.  The soil is flaked with white calcium carbonate from water evaporation. The ground is so saturated it that bounces when you walk. This creates habitat for several types of grasses and sedges. From spring to fall, many blooming plants will be on display.

The fen supports diverse plant and animal communities. There’s nothing else like it in Dayton.

Park Amenities & Activities

Latitude: 39.729461

Longitude: -84.127909

The 33-acre Conservation Area sits next to the Iron Horse Trail near Woodman Drive. It offers a rare opportunity to see restoration of unique ecosystem.

Park Amenities
Park Activities

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