The 1998 acquisition of 920 acres at Saunders Woods culminated a multiyear negotiation for the largest unfragmented blocks of bottomland hardwood forest in Indiana. The importance of the purchase can be seen in the ecological signature of plants in the understory. Bottomland hardwoods are more typically found along the deep alluvial soils of the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers, making their presence in Indiana quite unique.
Interior Low Plateau
State Nature Preserve, 1998
The Nature Conservancy
Indiana Heritage Trust & North America Wetland Conservation Act
In order to protect the forest community at Saunder's Woods, the Conservancy works to acquire buffer lands around the preserve. The stewardship staff has also been reforesting these buffers, planting over 300,000 acorns, pecans, and hickory nuts to protect the integrity of the critical core acres.
Dominated by pin and overcup oak, pecan and shellbark hickory along with other hardwood species, the forests are significant in size and in terms of its location - there are at the northern limit of of their natural range. Flatwood species can also seen where State Road 64 bisects the woods; look for larger, old-growth specimens. A rise in elevation within the woods takes you from an understory of chest-high poison ivy to acres of lush green sedges and grasses. Rare flora found here includes social sedge, climbing dogbane and deciduous holly. The trees offer habitat to a variety of wildlife including frogs, several species of owls, the Pileated Woodpecker and the Appalachian brown eye butterfly - if one is lucky - are just a few.
The relatively flat terrain will make for an easy hike despite the lack of developed trails at the preserve. Beware of poison ivy! For more information, please read the Conservancy's Preserve Visitation Guidelines.
From Princeton, travel west on S.R 64 approximately 6.9 miles until reaching the preserve. S.R> 64 bisects the property and intersects with C.R. 100 W. Turn either left or right on C.R. 100 N and park along the side of the road.