Shrader-Weaver Nature Preserve
Shrader-Weaver Nature Preserve is a National Natural Landmark in Fayette County. It includes an area of old growth forest.
Two trails traverse the preserve; in the process, they pass near some very large trees. From the parking lot, walk across the driveway of a private residence and head down the well-defined path.
The largest black walnut tree in Indiana is along this initial stretch, as are several other gigantic specimens of the same species. The first junction has a registry box and (sometimes) brochures; it marks the start of the Old Growth Woods Trail.
The Old Growth Woods Trail is about a half mile long and has 22 marked stations; each corresponds to a feature described in the brochure. You will find yourself surrounded by very tall trees, and when their leaves are out it can be rather dark down below.
Spring wildflowers are abundant, but by late summer, stinging nettle will probably dominate the forest floor. Maple and beech trees are most prominent, but others are also present; station 4 is an impressive specimen of chinkapin oak, and station 7 marks the largest tree in the woods, a stupendous bur oak.
The walking is easy – there is very little elevation change, and the trail is wide and well-defined. The remote location means it’s also likely to be quiet, save for the sound of birds and insects calling far overhead.
On rejoining the entrance trail turn right and head for the Succession Trail. In keeping with its name, I can testify that this area of the preserve has grown up considerably in the years between my visits and will doubtless continue to do so.
While most of the trees are still relatively young, there are also some giants; station 2 is an enormous Shumard’s Red Oak, and station 3 marks the spot of another gigantic bur oak.
The Succession Trail is half again as long as the Old Growth Woods Trail, but for now it lacks the grandeur of the latter; perhaps if left undisturbed for long enough, it will someday match its neighbor.
Fayette County. From the intersection of US 40 and IN 1, south 5.2 miles on IN 1 to Bentonville Road (which becomes 700N on crossing into Fayette County), then right 4.5 miles to 450W, then left 1.7 miles to the lot on the right.
North 39 43.212 West 85 13.337
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Nearby Natural Areas
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 90
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
McPherson: Indiana Best Hikes; Page 239
McPherson: Nature Walks in Southern Indiana; Page 54
Nature Conservancy: Guide to Indiana Preserves; Page 242