A large figure eight trail explores parts of Calli Nature Preserve, including a substantial stretch along the Muscatatuck River. Bear left from the parking area and you’ll descend into a wooded valley; the thick ground cover includes many kinds of spring wildflowers like twinleaf and Canada violet. Indeed, twinleaf occurs here in large clumps along the trail in several locations. As the year progresses, ferns and stinging nettle become more prominent on the forest floor. The trail follows an intermittent stream valley for a while, and you’ll soon encounter a junction. Turning right takes you to the middle of the figure eight.
Continue straight and you’ll emerge at an overlook above the Muscatatuck River, with large oaks overhead. The trail then more-or-less follows the river for a mile or so. It’s a very scenic stretch; in some spots, limestone cliffs rise twenty or thirty feet above the opposite bank and are often undercut by the river. Here and there, large, relatively intact chunks of fallen rock lie partially submerged in the river. There are several hemlock groves along the river; most often on slopes that offer a certain degree of shelter from the sun. Elsewhere, majestic sycamore trees tower over the river, attended by vast oceans of stinging nettle.
The return stretch briefly crosses part of a large meadow before veering left, reentering the woods, and turning sharply right. Again, you’ll find yourself along the river, which the trail follows through another hemlock stand before beginning an ascent until the river is far below to your left. Near the end of the loop, you’ll pass just to the left of an odd tree at station seventeen, the based fused from a red oak and a white oak, with only red oak further up.
Directions: Jennings County. From the US 50 roundabout on the east side of North Vernon, west 0.3 miles on Buckeye, then south 0.3 miles on 40 East to a parking area on the left.
GPS: N 39 00.239 W 85 36.244