Hiestand Woods Park

Hiestand Woods Park, established in 1945, boasts a park area & nature preserve.  Over the years construction of shelter houses, a playground, and paths in the nature preserve have created a truly special place.

Upcoming Improvements Project

In 2019, The Van Wert County Foundation hired the services of The Edge Group to assist in the development and design of a significant improvement project at Hiestand Woods Park. As the planning phase has progressed, a separate group of community members, leaders, and organizations has combined efforts as Van Wert Trails & Recreation. This group aims to update and upgrade the trails and facilities at the Van Wert Reservoir as a Phase 1 project to a higher Van Wert County trails plan. 

In collaboration, we are coordinating efforts with the trails group and design firms to facilitate a successful community project creating better connectivity between the two facilities and hopes that will be the catalyst to spark a county-wide trail system.  

“We want to keep the intrinsic nature and purpose of the park intact, but we want to activate the park, so it is more engaging and usable for all. Many area residents enjoy Hiestand Woods as it is today, but the amenities are tired and need refreshing.” – Seth Baker, VWCF Executive Secretary

Proposed Schematic Plan

Improvement ideas:

  • Amenities like benches, water fountains, trash, lighting
  • Restrooms
  • Parking
  • Playground
  • Larger Shelter area / Enhanced picnic area
  • Integrated and Naturalized play areas
  • Water access
  • Art in the Landscape
  • Ninja Warrior Challenge Course / Fitness Stations
  • Nature Education elements throughout 
  • Observation platform
  • Elevated Boardwalk Pathway
  • Resurfacing trails, creating new trails, and connecting to Reservoir Trails

A Community Input Session was held on November 16, 2019, at Hiestand Woods Park.  This event got community input on park updates, uses, and preservation. It was in tandem with the Van Wert Trails & Recreation group, who received input about the planned renovations to Reservoir Trails. Participants toured both facilities seeing first-hand areas of concern and locations for future enhancements.

The Hiestand Family Farm

William H. Hiestand was the leader of the popular Hiestand Band.  Mr. Hiestand was very generous in allowing the use of the woods –  for picnic purposes for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Sunday School Classes, as well as nature loving groups.  Upon his death in 1919, his son Mr. Jean C. Hiestand followed in his father’s footsteps by allowing use of the woods.  Jean married Helen O’Daffer.  He was a former employee of The Central Mutual Insurance Company before resigning and moving to LeRoy, OH to become president of The Ohio Farmer’s Insurance Group.  In 1945, the 78 acre property was purchased by Gaylord E. Leslie for expansion of The Van Wert County Hospital facility.  As a civic gesture, The Van Wert County Foundation used funds from the Clara Anderson estate to purchase the Hiestand Woods tract from The Hospital Association on August 21, 1945 to ensure preservation of the woods portion of the Hiestand Family Farm.

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