A sign near the entrance states that Wesselman Woods is home to trees as old as four hundred years, and that the property contains the largest tract of virgin timber remaining in Indiana. The Forest Service makes a similar claim for Pioneer Mothers Memorial Forest in Orange County, but I’d rather spend my time enjoying the trees than trying to sort out competing claims.
The Main Trail should be your first choice. It heads east from the nature center, right through the heart of the preserve. Massive trees tower overhead and it’s nearly impossible to avoid shuffling along, gaping at the monsters all around you. Fortunately, the path is quite flat, and where the underlying ground isn’t, legions of Eagle Scouts have toiled over the years to build a nice set of raised walks that minimize stumbles and wet feet.
Lindsey et al. (1970) report that tulip poplar and sweet gum dominate these woods, though other species are present, including red, white, and pin oaks, red maple, and green ash. They also note that the cross-sectional area of tree trunks per acre in the preserve is the largest they observed anywhere in the state. The slowly rotting carcasses of fallen giants litter the forest floor, and smaller trees quickly fill those voids, racing for the sky. Wildflowers don’t seem to be as dense as in some other preserves.
Be sure to traverse the Seasonal Pond Trail, which follows an elevated walkway through ephemeral ponds that support spotted, marbled, and smallmouth salamanders. The Boonville Trail hugs the northern edge of the woods, paralleling a deep swale that was once the Wabash & Erie Canal; the trail itself follows an abandoned rail line.
Directions: Vanderburgh County. From US 41 X Lloyd Expressway, east 1.3 miles on the Lloyd, then north 0.4 miles on Boeke to the park entrance on the right. Follow park roads about a half mile east and park near the nature center.
GPS: N 37 59.090 W 87 30.735
Facilities: Nature Center, water, bathrooms. Closed Mondays.