Taltree Bluebird Trail
Location: 450 W 100 N, Valparaiso, IN 46385
Hours: 8am-7pm daily (April-October); 10am-4pm daily (November-March)
Pet Friendly: Must be on a leash and there are waste stations along the trails
Parking: Large lot off the main entrance
Restrooms: Yes, one at the Visitors Center Depot & one near the Memorial Pavilion
Trail Length: 7 trails, totaling 5.74 miles
Admission: $10 for adults, price varies for children by age and discounts are available for seniors, college students and active military.
– Solitude, beauty, and lots of photo opportunities
Taltree Arboretum and Gardens is tucked away on a gorgeous parcel of land just south of US 30 in Valparaiso. The long, winding drive leading in was starting to show signs of fall with small pops of color amongst the foliage. After paying admission, you’ll make your way down the drive to the main parking lot. I recommend parking in the paved section of the lot and making two stops before hitting the trails to see the Audrey M. & Leonard J. Hitz Family Rose Garden (roses, dahlias, sunflowers and more were in bloom during my mid-September visit) and check out the ArcelorMittal Adventure Center. If you have kids they will love visiting with the resident Bantam chickens, dwarf goats and turkeys at the adventure center. There is also a hidden music garden that I may have tried to play a tune in.
After visiting the garden and adventure center you can pick up the Bluebird Trail. Bluebird is the longest trail, at 1.63 miles, which all of the other trails branch off from. The trail is flat and is made up of mowed grass, gravel or mulch depending on the section. On this trail you’ll have a chance to see a vast array of flora and fauna including the possibility of getting a few excellent close ups of the butterflies fluttering along the prairie.
Towards the end of the Bluebird Trail, as you turn back west, you will come to the Visitors Center Depot & Railway Garden. You should definitely veer off the path and check it out. If you, or your little one, love trains (and even if you don’t) the Railway Garden is phenomenal display from the mountains and water falls to the replica of the Michigan City Train Depot the day President Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train stopped in 1865 to the frogs and turtles that hide out in the water.
If you are planning to visit Taltree, I suggest making a day of it. I spent a solid 2 hours checking out the rose garden, adventure center, hiking the Bluebird Trail and visiting the Railway Garden. If you do all of the trails and exhibits you will definitely spend the better part of a day there and it would totally be worth it.
Taltree Arboretum & Gardens: http://www.taltree.org/