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Overview

Meltzer Woods is one of Indiana’s last remaining fragments of old growth forest. “Old growth” means the land has trees more than 150 years old and has been left as forest for a century or more. This is a special place where you can walk under majestic trees, some dating back to the 1600s. Much of our state looked like this when European settlers first arrived.

In spring you will hear the trilling of American toads and other amphibians that breed in safety in Meltzer’s vernal pools. Large colonies of bellwort bloom pale yellow here each spring alongside lovely ephemeral wildflowers like spring beauties and Jack-in-the-pulpit. The site also provides important habitat for the declining West Virginia White Butterfly.

With its tall trees and lush understory, this state-dedicated nature preserve is an awe-inspiring place to hike at any time of year—perfect for hikers of all levels.

History of the Property

This forest is the legacy of the Meltzer family, beginning with the late Brady Meltzer, who owned a sawmill during the Depression yet left his own acreage uncleared. That old-growth stand was placed in Indiana’s Classified Forest Program in 1928. Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1974, the property had many trees cited as “state champions” over the years.

It was the only unprotected old growth forest remnant in Indiana until 2014, when the late Phil Meltzer worked with CILTI to protect the woods forever. The Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust provided the leadership gift allowing us to purchase the woods and safeguard it in perpetuity. Other major contributors were The Herbert Simon Family Foundation, Blue River Community Foundation, Indiana Heritage Trust and the Meltzer family. The much-loved preserve encompassed the 50,000th acre protected by the Nature Preserves Act of Indiana.

Planning Your Visit

From Indianapolis, take I74 E to IN 244 E, then turn left onto S 600 East. Park in the lot on the east side of 600 East. The trailhead is across the street from the lot.

Full Details
Assessibility Open to the Public
Water Feature Several small creeks
Trails Easy, 1.2 miles
Parking Park in the lot on the east side of 600 East. The trailhead is across the street from the lot.

Directions

The preserve is located at 1522 S. 600 East, Shelbyville. From Indianapolis, take I74 E to IN 244 E, then turn left onto S 600 East. Park in the lot on the east side of 600 East. The trailhead is across the street from the lot.

Google Maps Driving Directions

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