Containing one of the last remaining old-growth forest stands in northeast Indiana, this preserve boasts almost 400 acres of old growth forest with the balance in younger forest, old fields and tillable land. The diameters of some of these truly majestic trees reach nearly four feet with canopies easily topping the 100-foot mark. Look for silver maples mingling with a variety of oak and hickory trees. Fish Creek, a high-quality stream home to several species of important fish and mussels, runs through Douglas Woods.
North Central Tillplain
State Nature Preserve, 1996
The Nature Conservancy
Department of Nature Preserves, Indiana Heritage Trust, Indiana University Purdue University of Fort Wayne, and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services
Much of the tillable land is leased to a local farmer willing to practice conservation tillage to demonstrate to area farmers how to reduce soil loss and chemical runoff without sacrificing productivity or profits. The remainder of the old farmland is being reforested to increase habitat for woodland birds and other wildlife. Within the forest, control efforts are ongoing to eradicate garlic mustard from the site.
Douglass Woods' forests, buttonbush and sedges, along with its wetlands and ponds, are home to a nesting colony of Great Blue Herons, a variety of hawks, pheasants and deer as well as a many amphibian including the rare Blanding's turtle and the blue-spotted salamander. The preserve can get quite noisy on a warm, spring day with the constant calls of frogs, hawks and heron. The preserve also includes part of Fish Creek, known for several species of freshwater mussels including a few listed as federally endangered.
The preserve is open to the public though there are no trails on its easy to moderate terrain. For more information please consult the Conservancy’s Preserves Visitation Guidelines.
Contact the Upper St. Joseph River Project Office at (260) 665-9141.
From the center of Hamilton in Steuben County, go southeast on SR 1 for 2.4 miles (SR 1 will turn sharply to the south) to CR 4A and turn left. Go east on CR 4A about 0.4 mile to where a bridge crosses Fish Creek. Park next to the preserve sign on the left, and follow the farm lane back to the woods.
From Fort Wayne, travel north on I-69 to the S.R. 4/Ashley exit. Turn right and continue east on S.R. 4 (County Line Road) approximately 7.2 miles to S.R. 427. Turn left on S.R. 427 and travel 0.4 mile to S.R. 1. Turn right (southeast) on S.R. 1 and continue 2.4 miles to C.R. 4A. Turn left and travel 0.1 mile to the preserve entrance on the left hand side of the road. Park along the farm lane prior to reaching the cabled gate.