As the weather begins to get warmer and we are left with the first inklings of spring, you may find yourself with cabin fever, eager to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. Luckily, just beyond DePauw’s campus lies the 520-acre nature park. The DePauw Nature Park boasts over eight different trails, with 8.4 miles total of trails. As a self-described DePauw Nature Park aficionado, I wanted to share more about the Nature Park as well as information about some of my favorite trails.
Unbeknownst to me during my first year, there is a connector trail that will take you directly from campus to the Nature Park. Rather than taking the driving path and risking being chased by a scary dog, as I unfortunately was, opt for the trail if you are walking to the park. Head down Hanna Street to the athletic fields, past the tennis courts to the campus farm, and you will be on your way. This gravel trail will take you through the outskirts of a forest and over a small bridge before landing at the entrance of the nature park. This trail is especially exciting around dusk when you are almost certain to see deer frolicking.
Another one of my favorite trails is the rim trail. If you’ve ever seen photos of the Nature Park and thought to yourself “that is in Greencastle,” the images were probably captured from a lookout point along this trail. Be warned, this trail is not ideal for those with a fear of heights. The rail trail gives you a beautiful bird's eye view of the park, including the quarry pond. There are also a number of lookout spots along the trail to give visitors the opportunity to stop and enjoy the view. Ensure your own safety by staying behind fences on the edges of the cliff and following posted signage. The trail also has a number of benches in convenient spots, making it ideal for those who may want to pause and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.
The quarry trail is also a favorite of mine. This trail will take you around the quarry pond and around the bottom of the quarry. This path provides an opportunity to see the quarry cliff from a new perspective as visitors are surrounded by the flora and fauna of the park. One thing I especially appreciate about the quarry trail is that you have a wide-open view of the entirety of the quarry bottom.
The DePauw Nature Park provides an opportunity for the DePauw and Greencastle communities as well as visitors to appreciate the great outdoors. While enjoying the scenery, it's important to keep a few things in mind. Leaving no trace is an important part of preserving the beauty of Nature Park. While visiting, be careful not to litter. Additionally, the park is home to innumerable ecosystems as well as student research projects. For these reasons, it’s important to do your best not to disturb the environment by not moving rocks or going off of marked trails. Doing so could have consequences that may not be evident to you at the moment.