Announcements & News

Maple Syrup Season is underway! - Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The maple sap is running and Darke County Parks’ volunteers and staff have been busy boiling in the sugar shack making sweet maple syrup! Freezing nights and thawing days cause the sap to move, bringing the syrup one step closer to your table.

This year, the Friends of the Parks’ Waffle Breakfast returns on March 4th! Breakfast will be held in the Nature Center at Shawnee Prairie Preserve and includes all you can eat waffles, a sausage patty, juice, and coffee. Drizzle your waffles with some delicious Darke County maple syrup. Adult tickets for the waffle breakfast are $8, children ages 3 to 9 are $4 and under 3 years old is free. Carry-out is available. Extra sausage can be purchased for $1.50 more. Breakfast will be served 8am-noon. Tickets are available at the door on the day of the breakfast or presale tickets may be purchased at the Nature Center.

On March 4th, Park naturalists will also offer guided tours, from 8:00am-12:30pm, where you can learn the history and science of maple sugaring, as well as the process of turning sap into syrup. After an educational tour through the woods, visit the sugar shack, and warm up in the steam-filled evaporator room as the sap spends countless hours on a boil to reduce it down to syrup.

Complete the day at the Nature Center where the gift shop and bake sale will be full of maple goodies fit for any sweet tooth!


 You can also support Darke County Parks by sponsoring a bucket. Each sponsor will have their name placed on a sap bucket along the self-guided trail during the Maple Sugarin’ Event. “Fancy Grade” sponsors will still receive a decorative maple leaf bottle of syrup, but in lieu of waffle breakfast tickets, they will take home stone-ground whole wheat pancake mix made by Historic Bear’s Mill. Secure your bottle of Darke County maple syrup and sponsor a bucket by visiting

Don’t forget to stop in at the Nature Center where maple syrup and various goodies will be available for sale during normal business hours Mon-Fri 9am-5pm. Gift shop supplies will be limited. For more information call the Nature Center at 937-548-0165 or email

We are open - Monday, June 15, 2020

COVID-19 Update: May 27, 2020

The continued impact of COVID-19 forces us all to be in a state of fluid decision-making.  The Darke County Park District is thinking of you all during this difficult time and we hope you are able to utilize some of the Preserves and Trails near you to ease some stress.  The Staff and Board are monitoring the situation in an effort to keep the trails open and safe for all users during this vitally important time.  
Beginning June 1, in compliance with Governor DeWine's Responsible RestartOhio requirements and recommended best interests, the Nature Education Center will begin to open to the public with some limitations. The Park District staff will be implementing and following the below protocols as put forth by the Governor:
Visitor’s must not enter if they are experiencing ANY symptoms of COVID-19
Nature Center Hours will be temporarily Mon-Fri 10a-4p
A minimum of 6’ between people will be maintained at all times (family units are exempt within the unit, but must enforce between other visitors)
All staff and volunteers will be wearing facial coverings and it is strongly requested of any visitors (over the age of 2) to do so as well while within the building.
Hand sanitizing will be available upon entry to the building
The building will have a one-way flow that visitors will be asked to follow
The gift shop will not be open for browsing, but purchases can be made. (staff/volunteers will retrieve the item from the shop and bring to you at the front window.
Restrooms will be open, but if at all possible, it is requested that 6’ distance be maintained.
During high volume times, visitors may be asked to stagger entrance.
Currently, all programs, events and room-rental requests have been cancelled during this time.  The shelter house and picnic tables at Shawnee Prairie are now OPEN on a first come first served with a strict rule of 6’ distancing be maintained.  Monthly club/organization meetings that are already scheduled have been contacted with special rules.
The trails and preserves remain OPEN, it is vital that everyone practices "physical distancing" at all times while in the preserves and/or trails.  Please provide other users at least 6 feet space between parties, be sure to alert others of your approach and make room for all.  
Staff is now working on-site throughout the workweek, so if you have questions, concerns of other needs, give us a call.  If you notice any concern, be it a trail blockage or over-crowding, please contact us via email or phone (937-548-0165) and we will get back with you ASAP.  
Throughout this all, we hope to continue to be a place for you to connect to the natural world, relax, exercise and enjoy the summer’s sun.  By working together, we will get through this.  Stay safe and we'll see you on the trails (from 6' away)!

Autumn Update - Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Here Comes Autumn!
If you haven't been on the trails recently, you are missing out!  The autumn colors are starting to pop, the goldenrods and asters are still blooming and the air has that unique fall "crispness"!  Trails will remain OPEN Dawn-Dusk 7 days a week.  
Darke County Parks' is operating with a variety of COVID-19 precautions in place, including social distancing and/or mask usage.  All programs have specific requirements and require that you register for them (even though most are still free of charge) in order to assist with crowd size.   Please be sure to read all information provided at the time of registration and keep an eye out for future emails to update you as the program approaches. 
Be sure to check out our virtual programming on FaceBook or Youtube; we've been updating them weekly! 
Thank you for your cooperation and we'll see you on the trails! 




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