From spectacular spring wildflowers to brilliant fall leaves, the beech-maple forest of Routzong Preserve makes it an area of interest during every season of the year. Visitors will find over 1 ½ miles of trails to explore in this 55-acre park with countless opportunities to enjoy the many seasonal natural events. Ronnie and Betty Johnson donated a portion of this preserve to Darke County Parks. This park is also the site of the Trees for Tomorrow Memorial Trail.
The following is part of a report authored by Paul E. Knoop, noted naturalist and former Education Director of the Aullwood Audubon Center on the eve of Park designation for Routzong Preserve, then known as Johnson Woods.
“On the evening of May 7, 1984…I had the opportunity of walking through the 35-acre Johnson Woods. As we left the cultivated fields and entered the woodland, we felt a sense of quiet and peacefulness. We sank into the leaf litter on the woodland floor and had to walk carefully to avoid tramping on wildflowers. The wildflower carpet here is outstanding and very likely representative of Darke County prior to European settlement. Of special note were running strawberry, white baneberry and blue cohosh."
The topography of the woodland is gently rolling so that small wet areas occur throughout. These wet areas typically have spicebush, sensitive fern, and other wetland species.
The dry/wet character of the woodland is also indicated by the trees. The wet areas contain sycamore, red elm and American beech. The dry areas contain various species of oak and hickory.
It is a joy to walk in a woodland such as this and encounter large trees. Of note was a 36-inch red elm, large buckeyes and oak trees. Trees this size are rapidly disappearing…and here in this “living museum” they will be allowed to live out their natural life spans.”
It is the wish of Darke County Parks that you, too, discover this joy.
Note: Located at 5352 Routzong RoadPark Hours: Sunrise to sunset