Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve
Cressmoor Prairie Nature Preserve is the largest protected black soil prairie remnant left in Indiana.
Early Europeans traveling through this area evidently believed that prairies were infertile and ill-suited to farming; after all, land that didnít support trees couldnít possibly be very good for growing crops.
And then there was the difficulty of plowing virgin prairie - cutting through the thick mass of roots required heavy plows and teams of oxen, and the sound of breaking roots was likened to that of continuous gunfire.
But once broken, the prairie proved immensely fertile - so much so that very little was left undisturbed.
What remains is very special, and so different from what now surrounds it that it has a strange, almost surreal quality, as if an ecosystem that once dominated a large part of northwest Indiana no longer really belongs here.
Mosquitoes can be a problem, and the setting, bounded by housing, a golf course, and railroad tracks, is less than ideal. Nevertheless, bring some repellant and plan to spend some time.
More than 250 different kinds of plants occur here. You wonít find them all, but you should find plenty to hold your interest. Cressmoor is a wonderful and unique destination.
Begin at the information sign and pick up a flyer. A trail heads off to the west from the parking lot. Whatís visible from the road is a small portion of the entire property; to reach the main body of the prairie itís necessary to move through a small band of trees.
At times, particularly in late summer when the prairie is arguably at its best, it will seem as if every step is taking you past yet another spectacular plant - prairie blazing star, black-eyed Susan, grey-headed coneflower, Culverís root, whorled milkweed, tall coreopsis, wild quinine, compass plant, rattlesnake master, wild bergamot, prairie dock - the list goes on and on.
Eventually the trail splits into an increasingly diffuse network of side and informal trails, but the area is so open you neednít worry about getting lost.
Lake County. From I-65 Exit 258, go east 2.7 miles on US 6 (Ridge Rd.) to Lake Park Avenue, then south 0.5 miles to the parking area on the right.
North 41 32.696 West 87 15.596
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Nearby Natural Areas
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 10
Indiana Department of Natural Resources