Sheldon Marsh, Huron, Ohio

The Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve in Erie County, Ohio, encompasses 465 acres of natural beachfront environments. There is one long paved road for walkers and joggers, hiking trails, a boardwalk and a beach that will make for a wonderful afternoon out-of-doors. Out-of-towners who visit Sheldon Marsh may want to consider spending the night at a hotel or motel like the nearby Maples Motel.

Ever wonder what Ohio's Lake Erie beaches looked like before the roller coasters and the summer resorts? The Sheldon Marsh State Nature Preserve, just five miles east of Cedar Point on Cleveland Road/US Route 6, is the place to find out. The shores and islands along Lake Erie are heavily developed, except here. Visitors can walk back through time to see Northeast Ohio the way it was, where the forest still gives way to the marsh, which in turn leads to a natural beach. There is ample parking at this free beach.

The Old Cedar Point Road is one of the first concrete roads in Ohio, and it was built in 1913 to deliver amusement-seekers in their new automobiles to Cedar Point. This portion of the road runs one mile north from its gate to the shore. The original road then ran six miles to the west over a sandspit, which was washed away after a storm in 1919. The original gate for this old access road has been re-installed here. This road is open to foot traffic only.

Sheldon Marsh, which is part of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (, has a lot to offer its visitors. There are many trails that branch off from the old Cedar Point access road. The orange squirrels that call Sheldon Marsh home have their fill of walnuts and acorns and are not shy about darting around people to get them.

These violet berries belong to the Virginia Creeper, also known as five-fingered ivy or woodbine. This vine can climb trees to heights of 50 feet. These berries are an important food for birds in the winter, but they are poisonous to humans. This image was taken Labor Day Weekend 2013, and the leaves can cause dermatitis in autumn when they turn red. There is no running tap water or bathroom here in which to wash exposed skin. Sheldon Marsh also has its share of mosquitoes.

This is one of the observation decks on Old Cedar Point Road that offer a great view. Though there were not many birds to view this day, the Preserve website states that April and autumn are the best times to view birds making their Sheldon Marsh stop-overs.

Standing on the observation deck, visitors can see the marsh below and the forest in the background. The temperature that day reached 80 degrees F under partly sunny skies. This area was fairly quiet with the occasional bird call or periodic train horn.

This boardwalk is a fun little diversion off Old Cedar Point Road. There are deer, turtles, dragonflys, squirrels and snakes for people to see. However, the information at the front entrance says there are no poisonous snakes at Sheldon Marsh.

This is the quickest path to the beach; however, careful footwork is needed to get past the rocks.

This is the beach at Sheldon Marsh, looking northeast on August 31st. The sand looked groomed upon arrival at 11 am. There are picnic tables just out of view on the right. It's a good idea to bring camp chairs or a blanket if visiting the beach.

This view looks northward on Lake Erie. The water at Sheldon Marsh beach is very shallow with semi-stable sand until about ten feet out. In addition to the human families on the beach, a few duck families also came out to enjoy the water.

While a good number of people seemed to be enjoying lounge-time on the beach, quite a few other people were using Sheldon Marsh for fitness purposes. Speed-walkers, joggers, and runners were prevalent on Old Cedar Point Road and its trails. This view looks northeast.

The out-cropping of rock on the far right-hand side of this image is a great walking and running path, with quite a view.

An out-of-town visitor can best enjoy Sheldon Marsh by spending the night at a local hotel or motel. A long, hot shower and cable TV go a long way to soothe tired muscles. The Maples Motel, just a mile west of Sheldon Marsh, is a good place to do that. This motel is open from April through October to coincide with the schedule at Cedar Point.

The double-sided swimming pool at The Maples Motel is open from 9 am till 10 pm. Owner Steve Faber both opens and closes the pool; feel free to say hello when he's around. When the sun is out, the pool is quite busy. It is lit from above and from underwater on both sides, and the lounge chairs are new. The pool itself was built in the 1960's.

In this close-up view of the pool, one of two umbrella tables sits to the right. The motel's hostess, Joan (Steve's mother), sets out coffee and donuts each morning in the motel office that guests can enjoy al fresco at the picnic tables.

The Maples Motel is located at 4409 Cleveland Road (Sandusky, Ohio) where it connects with Perkins Avenue. Norfolk-Southern trains come through regularly. The rooms and parking lot are somewhat offset from the road and railroad tracks. This location is just a couple miles from Cedar Point Drive, which is also on Cleveland Road. Just a mile or so down Perkins is a large grocery store with fuel pumps, as well as many fastfood restaurants.

The four cabins of the Sun-Set Lodge was the first part of the Maples Motel to be built, which was in the 1930's. (This property was originally a 56-acre farm.) The cabins were built after a farm wife suddenly became a widow and needed a source of income. Joan, the hostess, said that there was no Social Security for farmers in those days.

The office is part of what was once a farm house. Ring the bell just before stepping in and a desk clerk will assist visitors from the early morning until 11 pm.

If guests are planning to arrive after the office closes (11 pm), it's best to call ahead to make arrangements to get a room key. The staff can help anyone who calls ahead, even if they arrive in the wee hours of the morning.

Some years after the Sun-Set Lodge was erected, this block of rooms was built. To the right of the Pepsi machine is a Manitowoc ice machine; there is another one placed alongside a similar block of rooms that was built in the 1960's. There is a list in each room for nearby restaurants, some of which deliver, like Jack's Deli Pizza & Subs. There is a mini-fridge in each room.

Sitting at the pool at night is a lot of fun, where cell phone reception is a little better than in the rooms. The rooms are homey, and the decor reflects the period in which they were built. The rates are very reasonable.

If the Maples Motel neon sign is lit, there may be rooms available for travelers to stay the night. The name-sake maple trees on the motel grounds will be there in the morning with pleasant breezes and songbirds, along with thoughtful hospitality from Joan and Steve.

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