Guest post by Emily Wood, executive director of Indiana Wildlife Federation
I was tempted to wholly undersell the Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve in this post in order to keep it my little secret. I have been visiting this property regularly since I discovered that it was a quick ten minute drive from my house. Every season here offers something to see, smell or hear—and always packs one heck of a workout with its trail plunging steeply into a forested valley.
To my delight, a new section of trail has been added,* nearly doubling the trail length from just under a mile to just over a mile and a half (according to the eBird app from The Cornell Lab which I fire up the moment I park).
I am looking forward to hiking it during spring songbird migration, as I find this location attracts a spectacular diversity of warblers, tanagers, cuckoo and other neotropical migrants from March through May.
You are almost certain to spot a white-tail deer or chipmunk foraging the abundance of oak, hickory, and beech nuts on the forest floor. If you are there early in the morning a group of roosting wild turkeys high in the trees might scare the living daylights out of you because you were too busy looking for salamanders in the leaf litter below.
Needless to say, I don’t have any great turkey photos. But check out this cool Eastern red-backed salamander out looking for a snack in this decomposing log.
Don’t miss visiting this preserve in the fall, for some great leaf color and a satisfying crunch of leaves under your boots. It is hard to hike unnoticed through the fall leaves, so I always recommend sitting still in one place for an extended period of time to see what wildlife you can view once you have been idle long enough to become part of the landscape.
It is easy for me to lose a few hours just sitting still and observing the activity and color around me, but I also visit this property for a quick training lap if I’m planning a trip to a more hill-intensive area like the Smokies, or the southwest. You can make absolute jelly out of your legs if you push to finish the original loop in 20 minutes, but you kind of miss all the good stuff.
Happy hiking! Hope to see you there sometime.
*We are grateful to Duke Energy Foundation for funding this trail expansion.
Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve is just one of the featured preserves in our Trek our Trails Challenge.