Barker Woods Nature Preserve
Submitted by: Laura Niemiec
Location: 444 Barker Rd, Michigan City, IN 46360
Hours: None listed
Pet Friendly: Dogs are allowed but must be leashed at all times
Parking: Gravel lot in front of the Barker House, follow signs for parking
Trail Length: Just under 1 mile
Tucked away in Michigan City, in plain sight, a 30-acre nature preserve. Barker Woods, a Shirley Heinze Land Trust property, is a rare gem in an urban area. This island of old-growth forest, dedicated as a nature preserve in 1975, rests between Barker Road and Cleveland Avenue. Here you will find a variety of tree from oaks – white, black and red to pine, tulip and maple trees. A diverse array of shrubs and herbs also dot the grounds.
After arriving to the Barker House, and parking in the designated lot, you will probably be in awe of the home and out buildings as I was — so here is a quick bit of history. The home was constructed by Norton and Marjory (Clark) Barker around 1900. Norton and Marjory ultimately divorced but Marjory lived in the home until her death in 1974. Upon her daughter’s death in 1980, the house was donated to The Nature Conservancy who then transferred the home to the Audubon Society and eventually it became the offices for Save the Dunes.
The trail begins between the carriage house and the garage. Be sure to sign in at the kiosk at the trailhead. Winding down the path on a late fall afternoon it was hard to believe I was in the middle of town. It wasn’t until I reached the far western portion of the trail, which backs up against a small subdivision, that I realized how unique this property was. It is an oasis allowing for a bit of solitude in the midst of an urban environment.
Capturing images of the last bits of fall, I meandered along the trail imagining what it would look like in early spring with dogwoods and other flowering shrubs in bloom. The trail is flat and well marked. It can be easily completed in under a half an hour. I mapped it using GAIA GPS coming in at 0.87 miles and just over 29 minutes, with stops to take photographs and just enjoying the beauty. Whenever you are in the area, stop over and check out this neat haven.
1National Park Service (2010-07-09). “National Register Information System”. National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. (https://secure.in.gov/apps/dnr/shaard/r/23316/N/Barker_House_Laporte_CO_Nom.pdf)
Read about ALL the area trails, right here!