Fox Island County Park covers just over 600 acres and includes about 270 acres dedicated as a nature preserve. The park is part of the largest contiguous block of forest remaining in the county, though Fox Island includes other habitats. The name derives from an ancient dune that was once an island in the river of melt water released by the Wisconsin glacier. Remnants of that dune are still here, though it’s now only about forty feet tall. The Upper Dune Trail follows the top of it, and you can return along its base by following the Lower Dune Trail.
Lettered posts mark important intersections in the extensive trail network. Be sure to pick up a map at the impressive nature center. The Dunes Trails are my favorites, but there are other attractions. The Marsh Trail features an observation deck overlooking a large wetland; unfortunately, noise from nearby I-69 is often obtrusive. The aptly named Frog Pond is just to the south. During the warmer months, dozens of frogs may mark your approach by leaping into the small pool. Bowman Lake is a stone’s throw farther south and is a major focus of activity. A trail leads from the southern end of the lake, through a prairie-like meadow area, and thence to the nature center.
The Bog Trail lies near the northeastern edge of the trail network. Expect wet conditions, sporadic markings, and a bit of a slog; you may prefer to wear boots, and prepare to pay a summertime blood tax to the local mosquitoes. A less challenging trail explores the southeastern portion of the park, but noise from a nearby gravel pit and landfill can mar the experience.
Directions: Allen County. From I-69 exit 302, west on US 24 to the first left (Ellison Road). Follow Ellison south as it curves east and over I-69, becoming Yohne Rd. Continue to the prominently marked entrance on the left.
GPS: N 41 00.978 W 85 14.324
Facilities: Nature center, water, bathrooms