Heckert Nature Preserve is comprised of 43 acres of upland forest, riparian (river) bottom and old field habitats. Located midway between Bucyrus and Galion, it is situated in the Olentangy River drainage. The one mile hiking trail meanders through the forest and along the rim of the riparian bottom. As leaves cover the trail in the fall, it will be marked with orange flagging to aid hikers in keeping to the path.
The flora of Heckert is typical of Crawford County woodlands with many beautiful wildflowers blooming in the spring. Heckert also hosts potentially threatened plants, as listed by the State of Ohio. The old field habitat bordering the parking lot is host to many butterfly species during the summer months. Hickory nuts and acorns will adorn the trails in the fall along with the falling leaves. Winter is a great time to see birds flitting among the trees, and on warmer days, an overwintering butterfly may emerge. In late winter and early spring, the vernal pool that lies in the bottomland comes to life with songs of frogs and migrating salamanders. The Park District continues to monitor and survey the plants and animals of Heckert to aid in the richness of Crawford County’s biodiversity.
While much has been debated on the subject, it is thought that a trading post was located near the park during the 1700’s, and that the area was an important portage for Native Americans to and from the Sandusky River. In the 1800’s, part of Heckert would have been incorporated into the now-defunct village of Olentangy that was centered on the crossroads, just to the southeast. The former amusement park, Seccaium Park, was situated just west of Heckert in the early 1900’s; this site is privately owned. Dedicated in 2006, this park was bought with Clean Ohio Funds and, in part, donated by Gerald Heckert.