Few activities offer a better chance to explore nature than taking a hike. Around The Bend, trails are everywhere. Here are seven of our favorite places to explore.
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Rum Village Park
Three miles of trails make their way through this natural woodland, which totals about 160 acres. It’s an immersive experience despite its location in the South Bend city limits. Spotting animals is all but a guarantee. Over 100 bird species, fox, deer, reptiles and more have been spotted in the park.
Bendix Woods County Park
Many favor Bendix Woods in spring when the trillium is in bloom. Can’t blame them. They’re beautiful as the park comes to life. When you’re done exploring, head into New Carlisle. This quaint small town is more than just a place to pass by. It’s a foodie destination with multiple unique shops.
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Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park
Nearly three miles of trails wind their way through this nature retreat surrounded by neighborhoods. Portage Trail is the longest at just over a mile and runs along the edge of Baugo Creek. Keep an eye out for chewed stumps — they’re evidence of beaver at work. The footbridge over the creek is a perfect spot for bird watching.
Potato Creek State Park
Just over 10 miles of trail are a centerpiece to The Bend’s state park. Some are easy. Trail 5, for example, rolls through old farm fields and includes a small observation deck overlooking wetlands. Others are more rugged. Trail 2 winds through woods and includes the highest point in the park. Two “moderate” trails — 1 and 3 — work their way along Worster Lake, probably the park’s most notable feature.
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Spicer Lake Nature Preserve
Two kettle holes — shallow, swampy bodies of water formed by retreating glaciers — are the defining features at Spicer Lake. Take the Wetland-Woodland-Lancaster Trail Loop for a longer hike (1.5 miles) that includes an observation platform overlooking Lancaster Lake (one of the kettle holes). Bullfrogs and green frogs are sure to serenade you along the way during summer.
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St. Patrick’s County Park
Several loops add up to almost five miles of trail — from tranquil meadow strolls to those that run adjacent to the St. Joseph River. Early summer presents an opportunity to spot osprey as they bring food back to their nest. Bald eagles also nest nearby. You might be able to spot them with binoculars.