The site is relatively small ~115 acres, with perhaps half of that acreage being old growth section covering a 1/2 mile long strip of the floodplain between the river and the bluffs. I use 'old growth' loosely as the forest is more like mature second growth. It's not unheard of for private woodlots in ohio to host trees this large. However, once the long lived owner dies, the heirs typically don't possess the same forbearance, and the forest disappearance on the back of couple of trucks.This natural area, located on the Sandusky State Scenic River, was originally acquired as a Scenic River area. In addition to the large wooded riverine corridor, with an excellent floodplain community containing large oaks, sycamore, ash, tulip and cottonwoods, the area also has an impressive amount of relief [Yes 80' is impressive for north central ohio].
The trail follows the ridgetop and then drops dramatically over the hillside to the floodplain of the Sandusky River. This woods contain numerous large beech trees as well as a spectacular diversity of spring wildflowers including sharp-lobed hepatica, Dutchman's breeches, squirrel-corn, three trillium species, twinleaf, white and yellow trout-lilly and marsh marigold.
The display of marsh marigolds and skunk cabbage found in the floodplain is particularly striking in early May. The site is named in honor of former state budget director, Howard Collier.
The older forest on the bluff is a mixture of mature beeches and large red oaks on the upper slopes, grading into a mixture of young tuliptrees and walnuts on the lower slopes. The floodplain closest to the bluffs is quite open, wet and brushy with a few large snags here and there. By far the largest tuliptree in the preserve is located quite incongruously all by itself in this very wet area. As one proceeds toward the river the mature forest closes in. The wettest areas are dominated by the typical water loving species of NW Ohio: silver maple, cottonwoods, sycamores, with a few elms mixed in. It's hard to tell how common elms may have been in the absence of dutch elm disease. I've seen them come in very thickly in such areas and then get killed off in successive waves in the first 15-30 years.
As one gets closer to the river the land rises slightly and the forest composition changes again. While Oaks (mostly Red & white) and tuliptrees dominate the canopy, bitternut and shagbark hickories and a few green ashes put in a respectable appearance. At the far eastern end of the reserve a few old, open grown oaks mark an old home site or pasture. The big burr oak in the list below being the largest.