52 Hikes in 52 Weeks: Hike 10, Maplewood Nature Center

April 8, 2016

Maplewood Nature Center, 4550 E 100 S, LaGrange, IN 46761

http://www.lagrangecountyparks.org/index.php/parks/maple-wood

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The weather has been pretty ugly, but we decided we needed to get out and get some fresh air.  So we decided on a short, local hike for the chilly, rainy afternoon.  Maple Wood Nature Center is a 90 acre preserve owned by the county parks and is bordered by a 29 acre preserve owned by Acres Land Trust.  The trail system encompasses both preserves and totals over 2 miles.  The Nature Center has limited hours (see sign above) but the trails are open every day, dawn to dusk.  If the gate is closed, there is parking along 100 S just outside the park gate.

The trails meander through hardwoods, prairie, marsh and a seasonal swamp.  The trails are mostly level and almost all are lined with crushed stone.  The trails are well maintained and well marked.

So nice to finally be seeing some green on our hikes.  Spring is making her arrival in the woods!

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One the most exciting times to visit is during the third weekend of every March, when Maple Syrup Days arrive.  Spend your morning touring the sugar bush on horse drawn wagons, watch maple syrup being produced in the sugar house, watch old fashioned puppet plays and best of all, eat your fill at the all-you-can eat pancake and sausage breakfast.  Of course the pancakes will be topped with maple syrup produced right on the property.  There is syrup available for purchase as well as treats such as maple cotton candy and maple suckers.  It’s a great time for the whole family and a unique way to see the woods.  The pictures below were taken during a visit several years ago.

Except for Maple Syrup Days, the park is usually fairly quiet. There are benches and picnic tables and the diverse habitat makes it a great bird watching location. There are periodic nature programs held and when the nature center is open, you can stop in and chat with the friendly county park naturalists.

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