Bender Nature Preserve
ACRES acquired this preserve in 1966, so it is among their oldest. A short boardwalk leads from the parking area to a figure eight trail that passes through gently rolling woods and past extensive wetland areas. The trail skirts an area known as The Spreads, a wide portion of the Elkhart River’s South Branch. Still, you may not see any open water as you pass – just low, damp areas. Look for dragonflies and damselflies here in August. The trail segment that runs north-south along the eastern edge of the trail network passes through a small meadow.
The variety of habitats is a recipe for a diverse species mix, and my past visits have not disappointed. The preserve is home to an interesting assortment of wildlife – wood ducks, garter snakes, woodchucks, and plentiful chipmunks. Spring wildflowers include trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, bellflower, and Solomon’s plume, among many others. Nettles and a variety of biting insects dominate in summer, while pawpaw fills in some of the intermediate layer. Oaks and maples are common overhead.
TRAIL MAP (Click to enlarge)
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