Enjoy a hike through rolling hills in the State Dedicated Nature Preserve within Bendix Woods County Park. The .5-mile Big Tree Trail winds through a pristine beech and maple forest. Look for the oval nest cavities of the sizeable Pileated Woodpecker and listen for the hoots of the Barred Owl who calls this mature forest home.
Spring months, April-May, provide a floral showcase of spring ephemerals. Enjoy the Large-Flowered Trillium, Trout Lily, Dutchman’s Breeches and many other wildflowers as they carpet the forest floor. Add another .35 miles to your “show” by hiking the Lower Big Tree Trail, crossing a seasonal stream.
Follow the Portage Trail (1.1 mi, one way) along the edge of Baugo Creek. You may see plants and animals you wouldn’t expect in this park surrounded by neighborhoods. Listen to the creek bubble over rocks and keep your ears open for the call of the Pileated Woodpecker. Look for chewed stumps as evidence of Beavers hard at work. Springtime brings the blooming of yellow Trout Lily and Ohio Buckeye. Visit in the autumn and enjoy the colors from the footbridge over the creek.
All the trail names in this park reflect historical ties to the fur trade.
Take a hike back in time through the swamp as you walk along the .25 mi Boardwalk. Keep an eye out for Red-Shouldered Hawks, Pileated Woodpeckers and warblers (American Redstart, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and Magnolia). Look for fallen Ash and Red Maple trees toppled by resident Beaver along the Boardwalk. Spicer Lake, a kettle-hole lake formed by the last ice age is over 16 feet deep. Look for late summer wildflowers including Turtlehead, Boneset and Cardinal Flower.
For a longer hike (1.5 miles) visit Lancaster Lake, taking the Wetland-Woodland-Lancaster Trail Loop. Enjoy a blanket of spring wildflowers from April – May. Mayapples, Large-Flowered Trillium, Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Spring Beauty are a few of the spring wildflowers covering the forest floor. Listen to the chorus of Green Frogs and Bullfrogs in early summer along Wetland Trail. Lancaster Lake, another kettle-hole lake is over 24 feet in depth. The observation platform is a great place to watch for Belted Kingfisher and Great Blue Heron.
Take pleasure on a tranquil walk on the River Ridge Trail as the St. Joseph River flows nearby. In spring, look for the dark brown flowers of Pawpaws blooming. On warm days, enjoy the shady tree canopy, and look for Painted Turtles basking on logs along the river’s edge. Explore the stick shelter built by summer day campers! Extend your hike to the Manion Cabin Loop where in spring you can see Eastern Bluebirds in the meadow. In early summer, observe Osprey bringing food to young in their nest. This mile-and-a-half, flat terrain hike will be sure to please!