Rocks and rubble are giving way to a lush sanctuary of trees, trails and sunset vistas. Over 10 miles of trails weave through 520 acres of an abandoned limestone quarry.
Run. Walk. Bring your family, your dog, or visit by yourself. Relax. Watch and listen to the birds. Learn from nature.
The park features a variety of ecological communities. Each community has its own critters, trees, plants and landscapes. Habitat diversity and biodiversity combine to make this an excellent birdwatching location.
The trails are well-marked and can vary from 0.4 to 1.9 miles. Names like Woodland Trail, Creekside Trail and Quarry Trail offer glimpses into the diversity of landscapes in the park.
The Rim Trail gives guests a wide view of the quarry bottom. Creekside Trail meanders along Big Walnut Creek. The Quarry Trail takes visitors to the quarry floor, where cricket frogs are calling to each other along the edge of the pond. View a young forest along Woodland Trail W6.
“Rubble Mountain” along the Rail Trail shows the skin of forest growing over the top of rubble from the old quarry. Native trees, including sugar maple, sassafras, beech and hickory, are filling the landscape. Spicebush and Pawpaw dot Woodland Trail 4.
The Quarry Pond at the center of the property offers a glimpse into the growth that is happening in the rubble. New soil is being made. Succession species are taking root.
“Slowly, slowly, stuff builds up and becomes soil,” says Jim Benedix. “Life is springing from rocks,” he says. Benedix is Professor of Field Biology and Ecology at DePauw, and oversees the Nature Park.
Hanson Aggregates donated a large portion of the property to DePauw University in 2003. The University purchased additional acreage in 2003 to complete the park’s footprint. The park features a research field station, a welcome center with restrooms and an outdoor amphitheater.
The quarry’s limestone rock began forming 350 million years ago. Today, come explore nature as she grows new soil and offers a glimpse into the past and the future.