Bendix Woods County Park
Bendix Woods County Park is a sprawling county park that contains, among other things, a large mature forest. The Studebaker Corporation once owned the property, and one striking if slightly bizarre feature is the half-mile long stand of pines planted to spell out the word Studebaker when seen from the air.
There are shelters, playgrounds, a nature center, and Carlisle Hill, the second highest point in the county. There are also several miles of trails. You could spend most of a day exploring the park.
However, I recommend devoting the bulk of your time to the Bendix Woods Nature Preserve. The most direct access is from the Runnels Shelter area; to reach it, take the first right on entering the park and drive to the parking area near the end of the road.
The preserve contains 27 acres of old growth woods. Most of the largest trees are of just four species Ė beech, sugar maple, red elm, and basswood, and oaks, hickories, and tulip poplars are relatively scarce.
The woods have been free of logging since at least 1926, with only the lack of certain intermediate tree sizes suggesting long-ago disturbance. In any case, many of the trees are well over a hundred years old.
The action isnít restricted to the tree canopy. Early spring visitors should see one of the better wildflower displays in northern Indiana. Prairie trillium, trout lily, toothwort, Dutchman's breeches, wild ginger, May apple and other species carpet the forest floor, making for a most impressive spectacle.
From the Runnels Shelter area, the Big Tree Trail (0.5 miles) loops into the Bendix Woods Nature Preserve, and tacked onto its eastern end is another loop, the Lower Big Tree Trail (0.35 miles).
St. Joseph County. Timothy Road intersects IN 2 one mile east of the LaPorte-St Joseph county line. Proceed 0.5 miles south on Timothy Road to the park entrance on the left. (Fee usually applies)
North 41 39.907 West 86 30.392
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Restrooms, nature center, shelters.
Nearby Natural Areas
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 31
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
McPherson: Indiana Best Hikes; Page 79