Watchable Wildlife

watchable wildlife logo

box turtle

They're found along roads and highways, are brown with the outline of binoculars on them, and are usually near brushy areas or wetlands. They're the Watchable Wildlife signs which identify some of the areas with a high probability of viewing wildlife. Each area offers a unique or exceptional chance to view wildlife in their natural homes. Part of the excitement lies in the uncertainty. Unlike more predictable opportunities to view wildlife such as a zoo, these sites are homes to a diverse number of animals, any of which you might encounter during your visit. To improve your chances, walk quietly and slowly into the wind, come early in the morning, or late afternoon, and above all be patient.

The abundance of wildlife on the Wayne National Forest is impressive: 45 species of mammals, 158 bird species, 28 reptillian, 29 amphibian species, 87 fish, and we're finding more species all the time. Finding these animals is part of the adventure.

The Forest is divided into three main sections, each area lies just north of the town it is named after: Athens, Marietta, and Ironton. The Forest is a collage of ecosystems. Each ecosystem is unique in the types of animals who make their home there. The Watchable Wildlife sites showcase some of these habitat types. Bring your binoculars and your camera, and tread softly to view the real owners of the Wayne National Forest.

For more information contact any Wayne National Forest office.

Watchable Wildlife Sites: 

Wildcat Hollow Trail

map to Wildcat Hollow Watchable Wildlife site

This Wildcat Hollow trail traverses upland forests, stream bottoms, pine stands, and meadows. White-tailed deer, wild turkeys, forest songbirds and numerous reptiles and amphibians are likely to be seen along its route.

Wildflowers are abundant during spring and summer, and autumn colors are vibrant. Bird watchers be sure and bring your binoculars.

Unit: Athens



Lake Vesuvius

Map to Lake Vesuvius Watchable Wildlife site

This large lake nestled in the wooded hills is encircled by over 25 miles of hiking trails. These trails travel through some of the most striking landscapes that Ohio has to offer with a variety of vegetation, rock outcrops, and many species of wildlife. Camping, picnicking, or fishing make this an enjoyable place to spend a weekend.

Woodland songbirds, deer, beaver, and turkey are commonly seen. Soaring above the lakes or perched in shoreline trees you may also see hawks and osprey.

Unit: Ironton


Leith Run

Map to Leith Run watchable wildlife site

This site along the Ohio River is the place to see wetland wildlife. The area has two viewing decks, one offering a panoramic view of the Ohio River and the other overlooking the backwaters of Leith Run. There are several trails in the vicinity which also provide a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities and two climb the hills to the bluffs overlooking the Ohio river. Fall colors from this spot are spectacular. This tranquil site along the bustling Ohio River is a place where wildlife, especially birds, seem to congregate.

This is also a FISH WATCH site!

A paved trail runs along the Ohio River, and up into the Leith Run embayment. Wooden docks provide accessible fishing opportunities from the shore, and an accessible loading ramp is available for persons launching boats. Anglers fishing this stretch of the Ohio River can catch smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, hybrid striped bass, sauger, channel catfish, and flathead catfish, among many other species.

The Leith Run embayment serves as a nursery area for Ohio River fishes. While most fishes are secretive in nature during spawning, early summer offers visitors a good chance to see large carp as they splash and leap about in the embayment. The best viewing for visitors of the embayment is along the paved trail and boardwalk to the gazebo. The gazebo is a covered viewing area with benches. 

In addition to fish watching, visitors will observe many species of birds around the embayment, and sometimes will catch a glimpse of a muskrat or beaver. Some visitors enjoy watching the river traffic along the river walk and embayment trail. Tow boats with barges are seen daily, and occasionally a sternwheeler will glide past.

Wayne National Forest Aquatic Animal Checklists

Unit: Marietta 

Symmes Creek Trail

Map to Symmes Creek Watchable Wildlife trail

This 6 mile trail near Gallipolis traverses a variety of forest types. A long this trail you'll find scenic overlooks, large rock outcrops, and natural wetlands. Spend a leisurely day in this scenic area watching birds, upland wildlife and rock dwelling creatures in the rock outcrops.

Unit: Ironton