The Boy Scouts maintained a cabin near the State Road entrance that was in regular use during the 1950s to the 1970s. The Park was generally well maintained and its natural assets were widely appreciated by the local population.
Since the 1960s Indian Trails has fallen into a state of disrepair. Walking and bridle paths and picnic areas were neglected and vandalism was rampant. No capital improvements were undertaken during this period. With the exception of Cedarquist Park, and its popular Little League ball fields, most other access points have remained closed. The current state of Indian Trails Park can be ascribed to the lack of financial resources to improve and maintain the Park with appropriate security measures.
Present-day Park use includes fishing, hiking, swimming, naturalist activities and motorized vehicle riding. While hiking trails are located throughout the park, they are unmaintained. The lack of a coherent, marked trail system has resulted in a maze of trails leading to degradation of the natural areas. Motorized vehicle use has aggravated the situation by causing rutting of the trails and erosion of the clay banks in some areas. Dumping and littering remain a persistent problem throughout the Park.
Wildlife Resources & Sensitive Areas
Two hundred and sixty-eight species of birds have been recorded in the Ashtabula River and Harbor area. Lake Erie’s south shore is an extremely important flyway for migrating small birds, raptors, and water birds. The Ashtabula River remains an important migration corridor for many of these species. Additionally, the Ashtabula area supports many other species of wildlife including deer, squirrel, cottontail rabbit, opossum, skunk, raccoon, mice and a variety of reptiles and amphibians.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources currently lists ermine as an animal of special interest found in the Ashtabula River watershed and mink can be observed feeding in areas adjacent to the Ashtabula Harbor. The Park lies within the range of the Indiana bat, bald eagle and piping plover; all identified as Federally listed endangered species.2
The Ashtabula River Gulf – Indian Trails Park is an ecosystem rich in botanical diversity. Uncommon and rare plants are observed within this area due to the complex terrestrial and aquatic environment. Native flora, ferns, vernal ponds and flowering plants have provided an important educational opportunity as evidenced by the annual “Botany Challenge”. In 2003, all local high schools will participate in a contest where students will receive instruction on plant identification and then put their skills to the test by identifying plants in the Gulf ecosystem.
2 Ashtabula River Partnership Comprehensive Management Plan Volume 1; 2001