How to Find Morel Mushrooms in Ohio State Parks

False Morel

A great article in USA Today – How to Find Morel Mushrooms in Ohio State Parks!!!

According to Ohio State University Extension, there are more than 2,000 kinds of wild mushrooms that grow in the state. Of these, the morel is one of the first that you can collect in spring. The morel, which is also called the sponge mushroom because of its spongy cap, are most abundant from the first part of April to the first part of May in many Ohio State Parks. You must take great care when hunting morels, because there are some poisonous mushrooms, such as the false morel, that grow in the same conditions and look similar.


  • GPS
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Hiking socks
  • Hiking pants
  • Walking stick
  • Plastic freezer bag
Step 1Time your mushroom hunt for early spring when morel mushrooms are in season and weather conditions are right. Morels usually grow in moist conditions, just after the second deep spring rain. Another good seasonal indicator is that redbud trees produce tiny blooms during the same period that morels grow.
Step 2Wear clothing designed for damp wilderness hiking, including pants and socks that wick away moisture and sturdy hiking boots that will support your feet and prevent injury. You should also carry a hiking stick to help you maintain your balance. Morels typically grow on the side of a hill, so taking these precautions will help keep you warm as well as preventing falls, bruises, blisters and rashes that can be caused by wet conditions, clothing that rubs and badly fitting shoes. Additionally, the longer you are comfortable while you hike, the longer you will be able to hunt morels.
Step 3Plan to hunt during your first trip with a mushroom hunting society such as the Ohio Mushroom Society. The members of the society will be familiar with Ohio State Park regulations regarding mushrooms, as well as the best places to pick mushrooms. The members will also help you identify poisonous false morels.
Step 4Search hilly areas filled with tall tulip poplar trees for morel mushrooms. Morel mushrooms like to grow in damp leaf mold in areas of constant shade. Look for plants that thrive under the same conditions that morel mushrooms like. Some of these plants include moss and fiddlehead ferns.
Step 5Look for morel mushrooms on the south slope of a hillside in the earliest parts of April. By early May look for morels on the north slope of the hillside.
Step 6Pick any morels that you find by breaking them off at the base of the stem and putting them in a plastic freezer bag with a zip closure. Take this bag to a ranger or group leader for the morel club, if you are hunting with a group so that he can double check your finds so you haven’t accidentally picked a false morel.


Eric Sarakaitis
About the Author: Eric Sarakaitis
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  1. Beth Goble says:

    Please don’t put in zip lock bag the spores can’t fall off to grow more next season !!! Place in potatoes bag or laundry bag that has holes for the spores to get lose .. Please please remember bag with holes to release the spores from the morels

    • dano says:

      Don’t put them in the potato bag, the bags have a tendency to tear the morels up. A plastic wal mart bag will do fine. I’ve read where the spore thing really does not make any difference.

      • Nani-jay says:

        Please listen to Beth and use a mesh bag! The idea that spore dropping does not have any influence on mushroom propagation is just idiotic. I do not know where you are getting your source, Dano. You want to continue the spread of the morel mycelium in areas that are known to have ideal conditions not aid in their decline by cutting and not seeding.

        We use smaller mesh bags or long flat baskets with a loose weave. This way we can still be responsible and the morels do not get crushed under their own weight. (Though good on you for finding so many morels and having this problem in the first place).

        • Donna Brooks says:

          A basket is a great idea, Beth! That’s what people used for gathering berries & mushrooms for countless generations before plastic was even invented. I like to tell people to pretend plastic doesn’t exist and ask them what they would do, and then encourage them to do that. We have become FAR too reliant on plastics and now it’s killing everything, esp. our ocean life.

          I have a basket with a lid and I honestly never thought about taking it mushroom hunting! I’ll try it next time. A basket is also a great way to protect them from being crushed. I just need to find somewhere in OH to LOOK for morels. I grew up in WV, hunting mushrooms with my dad, and we had places to go and people knew him, but he died 19 years ago, and IDK anyone with land in Central OH!

        • Donna Brooks says:

          Sorry, I meant to address that comment about using baskets to Nani-jay!

      • Donna Brooks says:

        Beth is correct about putting them in a mesh bag! If you are concerned about them being damaged by the mesh, use a soft mesh bag. (They aren’t all the same. I’m looking at and holding 2 red mesh bags and their texture is entirely different.) It’s the sharp edges that cut the mushrooms. Also, mushrooms can be crushed if you put too many in one bag, even if it is a plastic bag. (We used to use plastic bread bags when I was a kid.) Just carry several smaller mesh bags. Mesh bags can be made by hand, too, and there are people who like to make things like that who’d be happy to make some for you for Christmas or other gift days or just for the cost of materials.

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