Wandering through nature in Putnam County confirms that Indiana is not flat! From ridgetop to riverbed, visitors can relax in rolling woodlands, steep ravines, and pristine beauty. Saunter along easy trails. Photograph colorful arrays of wildflowers. Listen to the wind in the treetops. Enjoy watching birds flit through the understory and soar overhead. It is all on display at Big Walnut Nature Preserve.
At Fortune Woods, the initially-grassy Tall Timbers Trail leads from field to ridgetop, offering aerial views of Big Walnut Creek. Immediately you’re both in the treetops and at the base of glacial-relic sentinels of a virgin forest. The trail's two-mile loop gently slopes to the creekbed, and stairs lead back up on an adjacent ridge. Abundant wildflowers include Virginia bluebells, jack-in-the-pulpit and large-flowered trilliums along with some rare ferns like Goldie’s fern. Don’t be surprised to see bald eagles wafting in the air!
Hall Woods Nature Preserve is south of US 40. The loop trail slopes gently into the woods, connecting to stairways down to the creek and back. The lush bottomlands support an array of plants and wildflowers, including an impressive carpet of Virginia bluebells. The pristine understory supports dogwood, sassafras and spicebush.
Two covered bridges, Pine Bluff and Rolling Stone, span Big Walnut between Fortune Woods and Hall Woods north of US 40. Baker’s Camp covered bridge is half a mile south of Hall Woods. All three bridges are different styles from the early 1900’s, and in excellent condition.
Big Walnut’s 2700-acre area is a designated a National Natural Landmark, managed by The Nature Conservancy and IDNR Division of Nature Preserves. Guests are asked to follow sound eco-behavior. Before visiting, check here.