When visiting the preserve, please do:
- Take a hike and stay on the trail. Leave plants, insects or other species, soil, rocks, artifacts or scientific research markers right where you found them. Download a trail guide.
- Enjoy viewing the birds and other wildlife. Remember, elk and black bears are dangerous with an incredible amount of power and very sharp claws. When not on a designated trail, stay in your car to ensure your safety as well as theirs.
- Let us know if you’re bringing a large group — 10 or more people.
- Report to us any problems you observe like campsites, plant removal, hunting, off-road vehicles or wildlife harm.
- Bring your dog. The preserve is home to ground-nesting birds and other wildlife that are extremely sensitive to disturbance.
- Ride your bicycle or motorized vehicle off the county road.
- Hunt, camp or make campfires.
- Leave trash. Take out what you brought in and please consider taking an extra piece of litter with you.
What to Look For and When
Sprawling forests and a diverse array of plant and animal species are just some of the numerous natural attractions at the J.T. Nickel Preserve. All those trees mean breathtaking fall foliage. While you’re drooling over the oranges, reds and yellows remember to look for birds. The preserve is a prime destination for bird enthusiasts both in the winter and the spring seasons.
A herd of free-ranging elk also calls the preserve home. The herd is typically fairly elusive, though they may be visible at any given moment. Elk are often more active in autumn months which is their mating season. Elk aren’t the only large wildlife that live on the preserve. There are black bears. Like elk, these bears are mostly elusive but can be attracted to areas with human activity for the easy access to food. Don’t give them a reason to come looking for you.
The bathtub rocks area is open to the public daily from sun up to sun down. Visitor guidelines apply, see above. Learn more about this special place and why need your help to protect it.
There are three self-guided nature trails at the preserve:
- Savanna Trail: Begins at the headquarters building, 1.5 miles in length, good for seeing wildlife, butterflies, and wildflowers.
- Pine Ridge Trail: Begins at the headquarters building, 1.5 miles in length, good for seeing wildlife, butterflies, prescribed fire effects, effects that topography has on plant communities, and wildflowers.
- Wetland Trail: Begins on the county road that bisects the preserve, .5 miles in length, good for seeing amphibians, butterflies, native warm season grass species, wildflowers and the occasional elk. Short hike with minimal topography change.
Visitors may drive through the preserve via county road access, as well as hike the three designated hiking trails. The trails are open during daylight hours, seven days a week to foot traffic only. There are no facilities. Hunting, fishing, camping, dogs, and off-roading are not allowed on the preserve.
Click here for directions and map.
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) regulations address the use of wheelchairs and Other Power Driven Mobility Devices (OPDMDs) by persons with mobility disabilities. These rules apply to public accommodations which include TNC properties that are open to the public. The regulations provide that with regard to public accommodations persons with mobility disabilities are entitled to:
- Use wheelchairs and manually powered mobility aids (canes, walkers, etc) in areas that are open to pedestrian use. A wheelchair includes a manually operated device or power-driven device designed primarily for use by an individual with a mobility disability for the main purpose of indoor or both indoor or outdoor locomotion.
- Use OPDMDs if the landowner can make “reasonable modifications to its practices to accommodate them.” An assessment has been done for the J.T. Nickel Family Nature & Wildlife Preserve in accordance with the ADA regulations.