Spinn Prairie Nature Preserve
Prairies once occupied about an eighth of Indiana’s land area, but the astounding fertility of prairie soils made them exceptionally valuable for agriculture. Few remain in their original state, and of those, most are small, often overlooked because of their proximity to railroads or cemeteries.
At 29 acres, Spinn Prairie is one of Indiana’s larger remaining prairie remnants. Tucked inconspicuously between a railroad track and a county road, the preserve was one of the first natural areas I visited after moving to Indiana, and I've been back many times since.
Small variations in elevation make a big difference in soil moisture and structure, both contributing to differences in plant communities, and that phenomenon is on display at Spinn.
To the north, oak savanna conditions prevail on slightly higher and drier ground, while much of the preserve=s southern portion is at least seasonally wet. Many typical prairie plants occur in the central portion; look for compass plant, prairie dock, blazing star, rattlesnake master, milkweed, grasses, and in wet areas, iris. Other species abound, especially monarch and other butterflies, with hundreds of individuals sometimes present in late summer.
The property is subject to periodic controlled burns, so there is a chance that your visit will show you a somewhat charred landscape. On the other hand, fire is a necessary component of healthy prairie ecosystems, and occasional fires have the additional, if unintended, benefit of making it easier to move around the preserve.
An informal trail leads west from the sign through a break in the fence and into the preserve, but soon peters out, leaving you to choose among faint deer paths and even fainter hints of trails. It can be difficult to go very far without crushing something underfoot.
White County. From Reynolds, go north 2.0 miles on US 421 to CR 200 North, then right, and right again at the next intersection; continue south a few hundred feet to the large sign and "trail" entrance on the right. Park along the road.
North 40 46.676 West 86 52.334
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Nearby Natural Areas