Nature preserves are often neglected by visitors, and Indiana has several hidden treasures. They are located in peaceful and secluded areas of the state and visitors can enjoy the landscapes without battling large crowds or having the sounds of traffic interrupt their walks. Providing an assortment of fauna and flora, Indiana’s nature preserves are the perfect destination for families.
1. Anderson Falls
Anderson Falls is located in Bartholomew County, Indiana. It covers 44 acres and is perfect for hiking. Anderson Falls has a beech and maple forest with Fall Fork of Clifty Creek running through it. The most beautiful part of the preserve is the isolated waterfall. The waterfall is more than 12 feet high and stretches for 100 feet across the creek. In addition, visitors can find preserved fossils, enjoy several trails and explore wildlife.
The area has been preserved by the Nature Conservancy since 1977. It is recommended that you visit Anderson Falls in the spring because of the spring flower displays throughout the area. The actual nature preserve can only be reached by wading across the creek, so caution is necessary.
2. Pine Hills Nature Preserve
The Pine Hills Nature Preserve is located in Montgomery County, Indiana. It covers 480 acres and contains spectacular views of cliffs. Backbones or narrow ridges are located throughout the entire area. Trails dissolve into backbones, so visitors must be very careful and use the handrails. If you have a fear of heights, this is not the right preserve for you.
Pine Hills is a great place to appreciate the beauty of hemlock trees and conifers. The easiest way to access it is to go through Shades State Park. Following Highway 234 will lead you directly to the Pine Hills Nature Preserve.
3. Black Rock Barrens Nature Preserve
The Black Rock Barrens Nature Preserve is located in Warren County, Indiana. Covering 100 acres, it is home to spectacular spring wildflower displays every year. Black Rock Barrens also has steep ravines, prairies and several trails. It is one of the only examples of siltstone glade in this region.
The best time to visit the Black Rock Barrens Nature Preserve is the spring. On previous trips, visitors were informed that eagles have nested in the area so bring cameras. You can use the parking lot for the Weiler-Leopold Nature Reserve. The two preserves are located next to each other.
4. Dunes Nature Preserve
The Dunes Nature Preserve is located in Porter County, Indiana. With 1530 acres to explore, it offers a variety of trails for visitors. The Dunes Preserve has a variety of features including marshes, forests, wetlands, dunes, ridges, coves and swamps. The hiking trails are a great way to explore this preserve.
Although you can get to the preserve using highways, once you are inside, you must walk. It is recommended you bring durable hiking shoes. The size of the Dunes prevents many visitors from exploring the entire landscape and can seem intimidating. It is easier to focus on one area or make multiple visits.
5. Big Walnut Nature Preserve
The Big Walnut Nature Preserve is located in Putnam County, Indiana. It covers 245 acres and includes many spring wildflowers. The Big Walnut Nature Preserve only has one official trail, and visitors are encouraged to follow it. The preserve features large walnut trees and steep ravines.
It is recommended you bring waterproof footwear. In addition, there can be a lot of poison ivy. The spring is the best time to see the Big Walnut Nature Preserve because of the wildflowers. Wandering off the trail is not encouraged, and the terrain can be rugged.