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Tips on how to enjoy your visit to the Nature Conservancy in Indiana

Melissa Moran, Director of Community Programs

It’s the perfect time to get outside and enjoy nature. Melissa Moran, director of community programs, joined us to share tips on how to best enjoy the preserves at the Nature Conservancy in Indiana including how to prepare for your visit, what to expect, what to do and what not to do when visiting a TNC preserve.

Preparing for your visit:

To get the most from your visit, and to protect yourself from the elements, you may want to include the following items in your backpack:

Binoculars, camera, a compass, field guides (wildflowers, birds, butterflies & other natural features), sunscreen, first aid kit, insect repellent, rain gear, extra clothes in case you get muddy or wet, and snacks such as fruit or trail mix.

Bring a full water bottle to stay hydrated!

Wear comfortable footwear suitable for hiking, but please do not wear heavy, cleated boots as these can damage the trails.

To protect yourself from ticks, poison ivy or poison sumac, wear long pants and tuck them into your socks.

Depending on the weather and the activity, consider wearing additional protective clothing including gloves, boots, hats, long sleeves and long pants.

What to expect/activities to enjoy at the preserves:

TNC’s preserves represent different types of habitats across the state that Hoosiers can visit to take in the pure and natural beauty of Indiana.

Free and open to the public, these off-the-beaten-path locations offer a peaceful escape for Hoosiers in their own backyard.

At TNC’s preserves, visitors can enjoy several activities including birdwatching, hiking, photography and nature study.

Examples of standout activities and what to expect at individual preserves include:

Hitz-Rhodehamel Woods is an important part of the Brown County Hills large forest block, and unlike nearby natural areas, you won’t have to fight the crowds to experience the best of what nature has to offer. A 2.6-mile trail offers a picturesque hiking destination.

At Kankakee Sands in Northwest Indiana, more than 100 bison roam and graze on the prairie. This preserve also offers great migratory birdwatching opportunities. Plan a visit in September to catch a glimpse of breathtaking monarch butterflies as they migrate south for the winter.

At Big Walnut in Putnam County, exceptionally large trees, including the largest known hemlock trees in Indiana, are scattered across the preserve. A one-mile loop trail offers visitors a moderate, peaceful hike.

The Children of Indiana Nature Park, located at the Cope Environmental Center in Wayne County, provides the opportunity for children to see and enjoy plants, birds and other wildlife.

Green’s Bluff, located in Owen County, features scenic sandstone cliffs, wooded slopes, and a meandering creek for a peaceful escape. Visitors can enjoy birdwatching at this preserve.

At The Grand Calumet River Conservation Area, experience several restored areas including an extremely rare habitat known as dune and swale. The conservation area is a great place to go birding and there is also a trail for hiking.

The Harrison County Glades are nestled in the wooded bluffs and ridges of Southern Indiana. The shallow soil over a limestone foundation offer a unique habitat for Hoosiers to experience.

What not to do at a TNC preserve:

In order to protect the most fragile areas of TNC’s preserves, please do not journey off the designated trails. Signs requesting visitors to not hike beyond certain areas are placed there to ensure visitor safety as well as frail natural communities.

Certain activities are not permitted on Conservancy preserves including biking, camping and campfires, driving an ATV or off-road vehicle, fishing (except by permit at Kankakee Sands), hunting (except by permit on designated preserves), picking flowers, berries, nuts or mushrooms or removing any part of the natural landscape (shells, rocks, etc.).

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