When I first visited Fawn River, I almost turned back before setting foot on the property. Threatening no trespassing signs lined one side of the entrance lane, and an informal auto salvage yard loomed nearby. After parking I set out on the trail and felt my heart sink as I passed through an area of young sun-blasted trees that seemed to be struggling for life. But I pressed on, and I’m glad I did.
This preserve offers some of the most spectacular spring wildflower displays I’ve ever seen in Indiana. The trail beelines west from the parking area, first passing through what is now a respectable stand of young trees before entering a serene woodland. The trail splits here. Go either way. The northern branch follows an old lane toward the impossibly beautiful Fawn River, which flows north from here into Michigan. The southern branch shadows a short bluff overlooking wet areas that host large skunk cabbage colonies. If you visit during the spring, either way will take you past and through incredibly dense stands of wildflowers, sometimes so thick that it is impossible not to step on something. A shelter building centers a small network of possibly informal trails that offer access to Fawn River.
During my last visit, the no trespassing signs were gone, the wildflowers were even better than I had remembered and, as always, I had the place to myself. This preserve is literally at the northern edge of Indiana, but very much worth the trip.
Directions: Lagrange County. From IN 120 X IN 327 in Orland, west 2.5 miles on IN 120 to 1100E, then north 2.6 miles to 800N; turn left. Continue west on 800N until it turns right into Michigan; go straight ahead on the lane to a small parking area on the left.
GPS: N 41 45.581 W 85 14.121