Hemmer Woods Nature Preserve
Hemmer Woods Nature Preserve is a National Natural Landmark that protects about seventy acres of old growth woods. The preserve includes both upland and lowland sections, and a ¾ mile loop trail traverses part of the former.
Though incredibly loud coal mining operations marred my last visit (in 2009), my previous walks through these woods never failed to instill in me feelings of peace and tranquility. The preserve protects some very large trees.
Oaks and hickories are especially prominent in the upland portion, and the lowland part of the property is home to some of the largest tulip poplars in the state.
Spring wildflower displays are outstanding. May apple, trillium, bloodroot and trout lily are all common, but Dutchman's breeches steal the show in late March and early April, carpeting the forest floor in white.
The scale of the adjacent mining operation concerns me; I wonder how closely excavations will approach the preserve, whether they will eventually surround it, and whether all of the digging will change the local groundwater regime, perhaps to the detriment of the trees and others species that live here.
Time will tell. Until then, I won’t miss any opportunity to stop here and steep myself in the ambience of these woods.
May Apple Patch
After passing through the gate from the parking lot, turn right toward the registry box and, if you can find one, pick up a trail brochure. Continue in the same direction and consult the brochure for information on the twenty-five numbered stations that appear sporadically along the trail.
The trail climbs over a series of small hills and is everywhere a delight; pawpaw trees seem to fill much of the space beneath the canopy, and the small pond at station five teems with frogs.
Gibson County. From the flashing yellow light in Mackey at the intersection of IN 57 and IN 168, south 0.5 miles on IN 57 to County Road 750S, then east 1.3 miles to CR 1050E, then south 0.9 miles to the parking area on the left. Note that coal mining operations in the area obliterated an earlier access route, and may again alter the local road network.
North 38 13.919 West 87 22.397
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Nearby Natural Areas
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 96
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
McPherson: Indiana Best Hikes; Page 447
McPherson: Nature Walks in Southern Indiana; Page 457