Ashland's 93-acre Lithia Park might get all the glory, but there's another, much smaller gem worth a visit just north of town.
Ashland Pond, a 12-acre, park-like spot nestled beside Ashland Creek and Bear Creek in the woods by Helman Elementary School, also is known as the Otter Pond in honor of former residents.
Toward the end of 2011, several otters made the man-made pond their home. Since then, other otters have stopped to relax in the water for a few days, making it sort of an otter B&B.
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Even when the playful, semiaquatic mammals are away, this stretch of land, which has one large pond and several marshy streams, still is a delight to visit.
Birds flock here, creating a viewing spot for blue herons, woodpeckers, red-winged blackbirds and mergansers.
The spot is accessible at the foot of Glendower Street. To prevent traffic jams in the neighborhood and to catch more of nature, park at the city Dog Park and walk down the Bear Creek Greenway bike path.
Amelia Covert Zeve, 13, is an Ashland-based writer and wilderness enthusiast who attends Ashland Middle School. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.