Arrr, there be gold in them there hills, matey! If you’re looking for treasure this fall, look no farther than your local nature preserve. The trees are awash in golden and jewel colors. No shovel or pirate ship required.
Each ACRES Land Trust preserve holds its own marvels, with unique flora and fauna, topography, and views. The preserves are open daily from dawn to dusk, thanks to member support. ACRES trails are kid-friendly, and dogs are welcome when on a leash. Visit alone and enjoy the serene solitude or bring the whole family to romp in nature’s beauty.
Several ACRES preserves are located in and around Fort Wayne. Each is home to a variety of tree species from old-growth oak, sycamore, and beech to sugar maple, shagbark hickory, and dogwood. Here are a few of our recommendations around northeast Indiana for leaf peeping this autumn.
Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve
1802 Chapman Road, Huntertown, IN 46748
Just north of Fort Wayne, the Tom and Jane Dustin Nature Preserve takes on a fantastic yellow-gold glow each autumn. Shagbark hickory leaves dominate the forest landscape here—and in the right places, in the right light or rain, this place truly glows in October. The effect is all the more stunning as you drive through the shifting landscape: from the expanding city, turning off Coldwater, onto Chapman Road, then up the long drive to the ACRES office, perched 80 feet over Cedar Creek on steep, unexpected ravine.
This preserve is home to ACRES Land Trust headquarters. It features approximately two miles of trails on 90 forever-protected acres of land, part of our 1,000-acres-and-growing Cedar Creek Corridor project. You can stop by the ACRES office to purchase branded gear, preserve guides, and even become a member. Office hours are typically 9 am – 4 pm, Monday through Friday, though the preserve is dawn-to-dusk seven days a week.
180 W. 400 N, Angola, IN 46703
Wing Haven, near Angola, features rolling meadows surrounded by oak, hickory and maple forest—ideal for viewing fall foliage. Wing Haven also protects a series of kettle-hole lakes, created by glaciers. Visitors can enjoy views of the surrounding forest from the preserve’s new floating dock. This place was bequeathed to ACRES by Helen and Ben Swenson, the original caretakers of the Potawatomi Inn at Pokagon State Park. The Swensons lived in the log cabins visitors will see here; Helen, also a working artist, brought in a local cabin for use as her studio, as well.
Enjoy the two miles of trails on just over 250 forever-protected acres of sprawling, peaceful beauty. This preserve is the site of ACRES’ 200-year long Ecological Reflections project, collecting art and science inspired by this land, every year for two centuries.
Daytrip through Huntington, Lagro, and Wabash
Kokiwanee Preserve – 5825 E. 50 S, Lagro, IN 46941
Tel-Hy Preserve – 1429 N. 300 W, Huntington, IN 46750
Hathaway Preserve – 1866 E. Baumbauer Road, Wabash, IN 46992
Make a day of it! Jump in your and head out on State Road 24 through Huntington to Wabash for a great fall foliage trip. Views from the highway are captivating, as you can watch the forest line from across rolling fields, created by glaciers. ACRES protects many preserves in this part of the region. Tel-Hy in Huntington offers an engaging one-mile hike up and down steep terrain over the Wabash River and flat hike options, too. Near Wabash, ACRES’ Hathaway Preserve at Ross Run and Kokiwanee protect waterfalls, feature exposed bedrock and generally awe-inspiring views throughout. Hathaway features two miles of trails; Kokiwanee is a bit more sprawling with nearly five miles of trails.
For wherever your leaf peeping journey takes you…
Whatever ACRES preserve you’re headed to this fall, take our treasure map with you! OK, so it’s not as much a treasure map so much as a trails map, but it will help you find your way among the golden, garnet and emerald hues, with your smartphone and an internet connection. Here’s how to use it.
Are your phone’s location settings on? Turn this feature on to find your location on our interactive maps.
Next, find trail maps on each preserve page, starting here to select your preserve: acreslandtrust.org/preserves
Scroll to the bottom of your chosen preserve page, to see your map.
Here’s the trail map of Dustin:
With the map on your smartphone’s screen, select the “My Location” button (highlighted here with orange in image 1, left), to see where you are on the trail. See image 2.
If your phone’s location setting is on and you have internet service, your location will appear on the map as a blue dot, highlighted with orange in image 2 below.
As you move along the trails, the dot moves, too. It’s fun!
Enjoy playing in the preserves as we move through the peak of the fall season! Happy hiking, on forever-protected lands, friends.
New to ACRES trails? Curious about what you’ll find? Discover more about visiting ACRES preserves.