When springtime comes around, there are many things people look forward to — warmer weather, blooming flowers, and a chance to finally get outside after a long winter. For outdoor enthusiasts, it also means it’s time to hunt for morel mushrooms Ohio has.
When springtime comes, dozens, if not thousands, of eager mushroom hunters spread out in search of morels, which are difficult to find but also considered a delicacy. If you live in Ohio, there are plenty of places you can find morels. You just have to know where to look.
Tucked away in pockets of the Buckeye State is mushroom hunting gold. If you can get even a little piece of this gold yourself, you’re in for a tasty treat. Learn more in our Ohio mushroom hunting guide.
Why Do People Love Morels?
In Ohio, you can actually find at least 2,000 kinds of edible and non-edible mushrooms, and there are three different kinds of morels. Black morels usually sprout first but can be hard to find. White or gray morels grow larger and are easier to spot.
Finally, big yellow morels are the most prized among mushroom hunters. These arrive last during the morel mushrooms season and fetch the highest price.
Morel enthusiasts have different reasons for loving these mushrooms, but they all agree that morels taste good. They can’t get enough of the deep, earthy flavor, which has been compared to ramen and even roasted nuts. Also, morel mushrooms fetch a high price in most markets.
Morels pop up all over Ohio state parks in the spring, and wild mushroom hunters are encouraged to hunt. But, they’re also required to remain on park trails while they collect mushrooms. Off-trail collecting is prohibited.
One of the best things you can do before you hunt is contact the state park you plan to visit to find out its rules for morel mushroom hunting.
How to Find Morel Mushrooms Ohio
If you’re asking, “When should I look for morels in Ohio?“, the answer is in late April and early May.
Ohio’s morel mushroom season begins in earnest in Southern Ohio, where the soil warms first. It gradually moves north to Columbus and eventually onto the shores of Lake Erie. The best part is that all you need to hunt mushrooms is a pair of boots, clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, and a good eye.
The million-dollar question is “Where should I look for mushrooms in Ohio?” The answer isn’t quite so simple. An online search for “morel mushrooms Ohio” isn’t likely to land an obvious spot where everyone goes.
Many morel enthusiasts have their own favorite honey holes, and they may be reluctant to reveal their morel mushroom hunting secrets.
No matter where you go, don’t pick every morel that you see. You need to leave a few behind so that the mushrooms can spread for future years of hunting.
Morel Mushroom Hunting Ohio Tips
If you’re new to the game, one suggestion is to go out with a state park group or a mushroom society dedicated to morel mushroom foraging. Believe it or not, there’s an Ohio Mushroom Society, which plans hunting events through the morel season.
Where the groups meet will give you a good idea of where to look for morels since they can pop up by nearly a dozen different types of trees. Once you know where to look, the hunt really becomes a game of hide and seek during springtime.
One important thing to remember is that a very small percentage of Ohio land is public. So before you go hunting, make sure you’re not on private land.
Start with state parks in your neck of the woods and branch out. Just remember to follow state park rules, and don’t pick every morel that you find.
If you find the mother lode in a particular spot and feel generous, you can share the news on message boards or social media. You might pick up tips on a few new spots to check out as well. Also, check out hillsides near creeks, old apple orchards, bottomland, and dead or dying American elms.
False Morels in Ohio
In your hunt for Ohio morel mushrooms, you’re likely to come across some false morels. To novice mushroom hunters, false morels look just like the real ones, but they’re considered poisonous mushrooms and not suitable for eating.
How do you tell the difference? One of the easiest tells is that true morels are hollow. False morels are filled with a cotton-like substance. Real morel stems are also attached to the bottom of the cap.
Once you find more morels and get used to what they look like, you’ll be able to tell the real from the fake easily.
What Do I Do With Morels?
Once you’ve scoured the woods, traveled far and wide in Ohio, and found morels of your own, you might be wondering what to do with them. First things first, you’ll want to inspect and clean them to get rid of any lingering bugs or parasites.
Once you’ve rinsed and dried them, they’ll last for months dehydrated. Or, you can cook them right away! If you plan to eat them right away, they make a tasty topper on a bed of fresh pasta.
Frequently Asked Questions About the Morel Mushrooms Ohio Hunting Season
Where can I find morel mushrooms in Ohio?
If you want to know where to find morel mushrooms in Ohio, the short answer is almost anywhere.
The long answer is you have to know where to look. You can find morels all throughout state parks, forests, old apple orchards, bottomlands, and creeks.
The hard part is finding them since they can grow in a variety of places and around a variety of trees in forests. Through some trial and error, you can find some great spots to go back to annually.
When is morel mushroom season in Ohio?
If you’re morel mushroom hunting in Ohio, you can usually find morels between mid-April and the first two weeks of May, depending on where you’re looking.
There are three different kinds of morels in Ohio, and they don’t all emerge at once. So, be patient on your hunt.
What kind of trees do morels grow by in Ohio?
Morel mushrooms are most often found on the edge of wooded areas, and they can be found around many kinds of trees — sycamore trees, aspen trees, oak trees, ash trees, and elm trees.
Morels tend to grow around the bases of dying trees too. So, you’ll want to keep an eye out for those.
Can you pick mushrooms in Ohio state parks?
Yes, you can pick morels in Ohio state parks. In fact, if you’re hunting for morel mushrooms, state parks are a great place to begin your search.
Before you pick, though, you’ll want to see what specific rules the parks have for mushroom hunting.
Start Your Morel Mushroom Hunt in Ohio This Spring
Morel mushroom hunting can be equal parts challenging and rewarding, especially if you’re a novice. But the hunt can be a great way to get outside and get moving when spring finally comes.
It’s also a great way to learn more about nature, including the trees, mushrooms, and plants that are right in your neck of the woods. For many mushroom hunters, the thrill of the chase is what makes it exciting year after year.
Once you finally go out hunting Ohio morels yourself, it’ll be something you try over and over as you hunt for the perfect spots and the perfect score of mushroom gold.
Morel mushroom hunting isn’t the only springtime activity to enjoy. It’s also Ohio maple syrup season with a variety of festivals and events that feature samples and teach you all about making this sweet, sticky pancake topping.