This Special Place

If you were driving the busy road running along the Scioto River and Griggs Reservoir you would never know it’s there. Not unless you were real curious. It’s the area, just below the Griggs Reservoir Dam on the Scioto River, essentially in the middle of Columbus. The installation of a Frisbee golf course along the river in recent years has given the area some legitimacy lacking when a abandoned campground occupied the area. Then, only occasional dog walker or late night carp and cat fishermen frequented the place. Judging from what was typically left behind, the fishermen may have been more interested in just having a good time.


The below link shows the area:


So moving forward to today what makes this place so special?


To start, it’s only about a three mile walk from our house which is located on a typical rectangular block in this mid-sized mid-western city. A lovely neighborhood in which to live but hardly providing a back to nature experience. Just three miles away this special place takes us into a different world where plants and wildlife are seen that would never show up in our back yard. Sycamores tower over the landscape once home to numerous Ash trees. Beech and Burr Oak are also present. Just over the low lying spring wildflowers invasive Honey Suckle predominates but Willows are seen along the river and are a favorite of the Prothonotary Warbler. A first time visitor will not be in awe of this place. It takes time, walking slowly, looking closely, listening carefully, and after a few visits the flower will unfold.


In the very early spring in the woods near the river wildflowers appear before the canopy leafs out. Some appear so early there may still be snow on the ground. They are in a race against time. Once the canopy leafs out their sunlight is gone.

Blue Bells

Blue Bells

Dutchmen's Breeches

Dutchman’s Breeches

Marsh Marigold

Not Marsh Marigold as originally stated, (nonnative, invasive lesser celandine)

Toad Shade Trillium

Toad Shade Trillium

Sprg WFs 2011 025



As spring progresses it’s time for the migrating warblers to come through. Not all keep going, some including the Northern Parula and Protonotary nest in the woods and brush along the river. Not long after we start noticing the warblers the Baltimore Orioles show up.

Black & White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

Prothonotary Warbler Below Griggs Dam

Prothonotary Warbler Below Griggs Dam


In the spring, if the river isn’t running too high and is reasonably clear, small mouth bass can be taken on fly rods or light spinning gear. When a beautiful three pound small mouth breaks the surface it’s hard to believe you’re still within the city limits.

Small Mouth Bass

Smallmouth Bass, not a three pounder!


In summer, nesting Prothonotary Warblers and Orioles are still around and sometimes amazingly easy to see and photograph. In addition Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, Green Herons, Egrets, King Birds, Spotted Sandpipers, Phoebes and Pewees as well as Osprey are just some of the other birds that may be seen. Deer may appear on the opposite shore while Turkey Vultures soar overhead. Dragonflies also are seen patrolling the surface of the river.


Baltimore Oriole


Red-tailed Hawk


In the fall warblers again appear as they migrate south and Double Crested Cormorants become more common. In the fall, as water temperature cool, it’s again a great time to fish for small mouth bass. Along the river, cool crisp days, clear water, and colors along the shore beckon thoughts of northern Michigan rather that central Ohio.


Scioto below the dam


Fall colors below the dam.


Scioto, looking north towards the dam.


In the winter, with the reservoir frozen over, the river below the dam acts to concentrate waterfowl and other wildlife. Birds from further north such a Dark-eyed Juncos and Golden-crowned Kinglets take up residence. Blue Birds, Downy, Hairy and Red-bellied woodpeckers become easier to see. An occasional Bald Eagle flies over the open water of the river taking advantage of what lies below.

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers, from a recent post.


Winter scene below the dam.


Red-bellied Woodpecker




River view looking south.


As lovely as this place is, it does have it’s challenges. Litter continues to be a problem both from people using the area and from storm sewers flowing into the reservoir and river. Discarded plastic bags, bottles, cans, tires and assorted junk end up in the river, shoreline, and park. Fortunately a number of locals, including fishermen, walkers, and nature lovers are starting to make it a practice of picking up the stuff when they see it. Everyone doing a little goes a long way.

Bob almost back

Fishing a truck wheel out of the river.


So this special place continues to provide at unique location within the city where, any time of the year, something new can be seen and nature enjoyed.

11 Comments on “This Special Place

  1. We have quite a few folks who do beach cleanup, in addition it’s an annual Event each spring. You wouldn’t believe the crap that gets picked up.
    What an utterly lovely spot you have there. The first Trillium I ever saw (noticed?) was a purple one in the CA Sierras. Around here in OR, they all seem to be the white ones. Beautiful shots, one and all.

  2. It does look like a very cool place to spend a few hours!

    I’m glad that you included the link to the map, I thought that the Scioto River was farther east than that. I’ve crossed it dozens of times, and driven close to the dam many times, but never saw it.

  3. What a great place to live so close to. You got some great shots of the spring ephemerals. The only one of them I’ve seen here is the bloodroot. Our soil is very acid and the others don’t seem to like it.

    • Thanks, we have a lot of fun in the spring looking for these flowers, Others,such as Trilliums are also common in central Ohionot far from where we live, Didn’t include them in this post because we’ve never seen them in this specific area.

  4. I know this is a pretty old post but I was researching snow trillium in Central Ohio and stumbled across this post and noticed that the nonnative, invasive lesser celandine (Ranunculus ficaria) was mislabeled as marsh marigold (Caltha palustris). They are easily confused but a quick ID feature is to look at the number of petals- lesser celandine has 8-12 petals while marsh marigold has 5-9. Also, unfortunately, lesser celandine is much more common in our disturbed floodplains.

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