Goose Pond Cypress Slough is a slice of the Deep South found in southwest Indiana. The pond is actually a series of small sloughs - old side channels in the Ohio River floodplain - that run about four miles along the river. Stately bald cypress trees and cypress knees line the slough, and this preserve is perhaps the easiest place to view these unusual-to-the-state trees. Visiting this site in the wetter months can be tricky, but is definitely worth it.
Interior Low Plateau
State Nature Preserve, 1995
The Nature Conservancy
Indiana Heritage Trust & Department of Nature Preserves
Acquiring the pondweed-carpeted cypress slough preserved a unique habitat to Indiana as the bald cypress is near its northern range limit in south-western Indiana. Unfortunately the greatest threat to the slough is flooding from the Ohio River. A navigation dam on the Ohio backs water up into the preserve almost every spring, depositing an inch or two of sediment. The Conservancy ears that the preserve will eventually be altered beyond its capacity for healing, and that all of the interesting plants and animals will be lost.
The bald cypress tree, with its broad, buttressed trunk and spirally arranged linear leaves, and cypress knees line the slough. Other species of trees share the preserve including green ash, maples and old sycamores. The bald cypress/green ash/silver maple community is restricted to only four viable sites in the state following years of logging, draining and other development, so such a site is quite a treat. In autumn, visitors will be treated not only to the bold red of silver maples, but also the rare-for-Indiana "cypress gold."
Although some visitors believe they have seen the eyes of an alligator peering out from the slough, there are no such dangers. There is a variety of wildlife though wth turtles, frogs, and birds thriving in the pools. If you're lucky, you may even spot the rare copperbelly water snake.
No trails exist at this time, but the easy to moderate terrain is still good for hiking. Spring visits are tricky; if the Ohio River's water levels are high, the road through the preserve (and the preserve itself) is likely underwater. Midsummer (after the mud deposited from floodwaters have dried) and autumn are considered the best times to visit. During wetter times, mosquito repellant is recommended.
From Evansville, travel west on S.R. 62 to Howell. Continue of S.R. 62 for roughly 11.3 miles and turn left (south) on Indian Mound Road. Travel approximately 3 miles to the preserve, which is 0.3 mile past the sharp left turn, and park along the road.