WALK QUIETLY to catch glimpses of deer and foxes and hear woodpeckers and warblers living amid the woods blanketing Rum Village Park. At the nature center, a wildlife feeding station, bird-watching window and exhibits introduce what you’ll see on the 3 miles of trails covering these 160 rolling acres. At Potato Creek State Park, 10 miles of paved trails pass through a variety of habitats, including fields, mature woodlands, and restored prairies and wetlands. Trails range from an easy half-mile loop through wetlands and woods to the rugged 2 miles through woods to the top of Steamboat Hill for views of Worster Lake.
At five St. Joseph County Parks, trails draw visitors through woods to wetlands and waterways. The largest, St. Patrick’s County Park, is known for its 11 half-mile loops past sights like an osprey nesting pole, eagle nests and a 1918 cabin. Paths traverse oak forests, pastures and river ridges. Take a plant identification book to Spicer Lake Nature Preserve, which protects 232 species, including the native baneberry, agrimony, hogpeanut, beggarticks, willowherb and bedstraw, to name a few. To see rare and endangered plants, head to Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve. Its wetland supports unusual species like warty panic grass, pipewort and black-fruited spikerush. Another unique feature in one of the parks is the section of trees planted in 1938 to spell out Studebaker in honor of the former owners of the land that is now Bendix Woods County Park.
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY PARKS
An observation platform at the west side of the lake in the Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve provides an excellent vantage point for bird-watching during early-spring waterfowl migration. Sandhill cranes often nest here. Gravel paths lead through Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area’s 111 acres of restored grasslands supporting species like the elusive Henslow’s sparrow, dickcissel, Eastern meadowlark and bobolink. The wetlands and woodlands of Spicer Lake Nature Preserve come alive in spring and fall when flocks of songbirds arrive.
From the editor’s of Midwest Living, Visit South Bend Mishawaka brings you your guide to getting active in the South Bend area! Whether you want to hike, paddle, spin, run, explore, play, eat or celebrate, get it all here.