Chaparral Prairie Preserve

Chaparral Prairie is a State Nature Preserve. It is a rare botanical site and a public hiking destination located a few miles northwest of West Union, Ohio in Adams County. Of all the prairie remnants protected in this singular botanical region of southern Ohio, Chaparral is the most visually appealing, offering wide vistas of rolling green meadows, dense colonies of prairie dock, and spectacular floral showcases of dense blazing star and rattlesnake master.

Open to the PublicChaparral Prairie offers three loop hiking trails and one spur trail totaling 1.6 miles. For visitation information, please visit the official website for the preserve administered by the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves. A variety of prairie flowers can be seen throughout the first three weeks of August. To catch the signature natural phenomena of Chaparral Prairie, however, plan your visit in the very first days of August  to witness the outstanding floral showcases of Liatris spicata, Dense Blazing Star. We suggest bringing a pair of closer-focusing binoculars with you and a butterfly guide.

Natural History. Chaparral Prairie is known as a short or mid-height prairie. It is high in wildlflower species and coverage, with a corresponding low density of the signature tall grass prairie grass species, Indian Grass and Big Bluestem. Most of Ohio’s native prairies were destroyed with the advent of the plow. Therefore remaining fragments often shelter rare plant species. Chaparral Prairie boasts an impressive 22 state-listed endangered plants. The forests that exist on the preserve are dominated by white oak, post oak, and black oak.

The Arc’s Contribution to Doubling Chaparral Prairie. In 2015, The Arc of Appalachia partnered with Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, to successfully purchase an adjacent 60-acre property that nearly doubled the preserve’s land holdings, bringing the preserve up to 130 acres. Financial assistance came from Clean Ohio grant dollars, the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves, Arc donors, and Ohio Natural Areas and Preserves Association.  The Arc has turned over the new acquisition to the Ohio Division of Natural Areas and Preserves to manage, and the state has already designed and cut three beautiful new hiking trails on the new property which are open to the public every day of the year. A beautifully constructed new foot bridge fording the small creek on the new acquisition was built by the Division and funded by the Cincinnati Wildflower Preservation Society.

The prairie supports the most extensive population of rattlesnake-master in the state. Photo By Martin McAllister
Prairie Dock