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Preserve Spotlight: Baker Woods State Nature Preserve

Posted on 5/22/2017 by State Nature Preserves
Baker Woods

Mercer County’s Baker Woods State Nature Preserve in west-central Ohio represents the legacy of landowner Lela Mae Baker, who donated the Baker family woodlot in 1992 to the ODNR Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. The area is a superb example of a high quality old-growth forest. Walking through the preserve, you can see numerous large trees, including shagbark and shellbark hickories, bur, swamp white, white and chinquapin oaks. The area remained undeveloped until 2009, when a 1-mile trail system and small parking lot were developed.

Lester Huelskamp, 94, who lives in Fort Recovery with his wife Millie (pictured), is perhaps the visitor that knows more about Baker Woods than any other Ohioan. His brother, Don Huelskamp, 90, is on the right in the picture, and he is also active at the site. Lester started walking the Baker Woods trail to help with knee pain, and now he walks 5 miles a week. In May 2016, Lester logged his 1,000th mile! Not to fall behind his older brother, Don walks often and also clears trails at Mt. Gilead State Park. The two brothers are pictured holding license plates, which show their ages. We want to thank the Huelskamps for being great examples for all of us on the importance of staying active and exploring Ohio.

If you’ve never been to Baker Woods, every season holds a surprise for the hiker. In the spring, the forest awakens with a carpet of spring wildflowers. In the summer, a cloud of mosquitoes will faithfully follow you on your ramble. If you can tolerate them, it’s well worth the visit. The fall, with its blaze of color and sweet, rich woodsy smell, will astonish you. Winter brings a beauty all its own–the quiet solitude of a sleeping forest with just footprints in the snow. Make plans to visit Baker Woods State Nature Preserve in Mercer County in the near future!