Bryan Woods Nature Preserve
Western Clinton County is a largely agricultural area. Vast expanses of corn, soybeans - and in the colder months, bare ground - surround isolated woodlots. Bryan Nature Preserve protects one of the largest and finest of these woodland oases. Things arenít what they were before Europeans arrived Ė there are signs of disturbance, including a concentrated animal feeding operation next door Ė but the woods have recovered to the point where they provide a tantalizing hint of what things were like in central Indiana, long ago.
I prefer to visit during April and early May, when spring wildflowers are at their best and the mosquitoes have yet to reach stupendous densities. Expect to see great swathes of May apple, Dutchman's breeches, and spring beauty, along with bloodroot (below).
Trout lily, also known as adder's tongue, is especially abundant here. This plant takes several years to bloom, and bears a single nodding blossom between two long mottled leaves. The trout lilies in this preserve seem to bear paler blossoms than the usual bright yellow ones seem elsewhere; perhaps they are a different variety or species. Salamanders are common, though hard to spot. Iíve also enjoyed winter visits, when crunchy snow underfoot, crisp air, and the slow creaking of gently swaying trees combine to make for a brisk and invigorating stroll through the woods.
Begin by heading east along a narrow strip of overgrown land between two fields. Trail guides are sometimes available in the registry box that stands along this stretch of the path. Youíll soon enter the woods and veer off to the right (south). From here, the trail is a loop, with a cut off option so that you can hike the long loop, short loop, or do both as a figure eight. There are several wooded ponds, and during the spring or especially wet weather, the trail often has standing water. In the warmer months, this can mean that frogs serenade you as legions of biting insects eat you alive.
Clinton County. From the northern intersection of IN 38 and IN 39, go west 1.2 miles on IN 38, then north 1 mile on 450W to a parking area on the right.
North 40 21.527 West 86 35.370
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Nearby Natural Areas
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 82
Indiana Department of Natural Resources