Near Auburn in Geagua County, and shrouded by an encircling forest and little documented, I entered Auburn State Wildlife Area uncertain of what I would discover. The hiking trail begins as a narrow, overgrown path down between a break in the treeline. Another 200 feet from the parking lot, the clearing reveals a vast wild bog. While following the semi firm meandering trail into the reeds and cattails, my focus was captured by a bald eagle departing its nest across the bog to inspect the new vistor to its domain. After arching circles merely 30 feet overhead, the raptor departed with a loud cry showing disappointment that I was too large to be its next meal.
Since the terrain is barely rolling, the transitions from forest to field to bog are clearly visible. The numerous flat spots among the tall weeds and reeds are either testament to the great bird watching or bountiful deer hunting of these transition zones. Most east-west trails end shortly as the bog softens into marsh near the centerline stream passing north-south through the wilderness area. The best approach is to follow the perimeter trails through the shrouding forest.
While encircling the bog, I noted several animals that looked like big white faced rats with a pink nose, white/gray coat and a hairless tail. Only infrequently have I seen the solitary oposssum which, I have since learned, tend to prefer these low wooded areas along swamps and rivers. These omnivorous scavengers, North America's only marsupial mammal, usually diet on insects and wild fruit but will also grub on local garbage in their range of 20-30 acres. Luckily I kept my distance since they can become ferocious when startled. To get there, exit US 422 on to north SR 44 in Auburn Corners. After 0.25 miles, proceed left on Washington Street for about 1 mile to Auburn Road (CR 4). Travel north 0.4 miles to a parking lot on the right.
Overall, Auburn State Wildlife Area is the 5th most popular hiking trail of all 26 hikes in Ohio.