The North Pond Boardwalk is an exciting one-mile hiking trail through the North Pond State Nature Preserve, home to one of the last remaining lake embayment ponds in the Lake Erie Islands. The entrance to the preserve is located on Ward Road, just west of the main entrance to the East Quarry Trails, and only one mile southeast of the Glacial Grooves. Parking is available on the opposite side of the road from the trailhead. The trail will take you down past an island ancient shoreline hiding in the forest, up to the top of the observation tower overlooking the pond, and out onto a stretch of sandy beach along Lake Erie.
North Pond is Ohio’s only state-managed, natural lake embayment pond. Embayment ponds are a special type of wetland that occur along the Great Lakes’ coasts. Water levels in embayment ponds rise and fall with that of the lakes. These ponds formed as the lakes receded from their ancient shores. Several thousand years ago, when Lake Erie’s water level was higher, Kelleys Island was actually two separate islands. The receding lake waters left behind the fertile low-lying area known as Sweet Valley and the marshy wetland of North Pond. The wave-rounded ridges of this former shoreline are visible as the trail descends down into the woods, before the start of the boardwalk.
At one time, Ohio’s islands were home to twelve embayment ponds. Today, only three remain, and North Pond is the most intact example. North Pond is also one of the few remaining natural wetlands directly connected to Lake Erie. Most of these wetlands areas along the coast have been impounded by dikes, which artificially control water levels. North Pond’s aquatic ecosystem harbors a fascinating assemblage of plant and animal life, and is known for the tremendous numbers of waterfowl migrating through in the spring and fall. From tower and the boardwalk, visitors can spot muskrat, deer, salamanders and snakes, herons, hawks, and dozens of other bird species.