Bluffs of Beaver Bend features massive bluffs that tower over the White River as it enters a series of tight turns just downstream of Shoals. A gravel road continues from the parking area, past the (open) gate and preserve sign, squeezed in spots between the river and the bluffs. Beware of traffic; during my last visit an 18-wheeler passed through and disappeared somewhere to the north. The gravel road notwithstanding, this is a very scenic preserve. The bluffs are impressive, there are good views of the river, and the vegetation is thick and interesting.
During the warmer months, numerous fern species grow on the exposed rock faces and large boulders scattered about the base of the bluff. Lindsey et al. (1970) note the presence of pinnatifid spleenwort, ebony spleenwort, maidenhair spleenwort, marginal shield fern, crested shield fern, and walking fern, among others.
The prominently marked Nubbin Ridge Trail winds its way up from the gravel road to the top of the bluff, exploring both areas near the precipice (toward the south) and also considerably farther away, in the upland interior of the preserve. The higher ground supports a very different plant community than does the thin strip of land at the base of the bluff. Here the ground seems drier and the tree mix tends to oak and hickory. The upland trail forms a partial loop, eventually descending back to the gravel road.
Directions: Martin County. In Shoals, go southwest 1.0 mile on the first street (Water, which becomes Spout Springs) east of the White River bridge, then right 0.2 miles on an unmarked gravel road to the parking area.
GPS: N 38 39.494 W 86 48.341