Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve is an Indiana State Nature Preserve and National Natural Landmark. This old-growth lowland forest is a crucial habitat for a wide variety of animal species, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. A Nature Center on the western edge of the property offers hands on educational exhibits and a wildlife observation area. On-site programs are offered to school, civic and scout groups throughout the year. No other city in the United States with a population exceeding 100,000 has within its corporate limits, a timber stand of such acreage and sylvan qualities.
Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve
551 N. Boeke Rd.
Evansville, IN 47711
Enter Wesselman Park; stay to the right. Once you reach the forest the road takes a sharp left. After a quarter of a mile, the entrance is on the right.
Help keep the land beautiful by observing these guidelines:
- Foot traffic only. No bicycles or mechanized vehicles are allowed. Jogging is also prohibited. These activities disturb hikers and wildlife. Strollers are permitted if kept on the trail.
- Stay on designated trails. Off-trail hiking results in significant damage to the plants and animals that live on the forest floor.
- Pets are not permitted in Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve.
- No harvesting. All plants, animals, and minerals on this property are protected. Removing, damaging, or disturbing any natural resource is prohibited by law. Please leave all rocks, feathers, leaves, bones, etc. in place for the enjoyment of future visitors and the continued health of the ecosystem.
- Smoking is not permitted. A fire in this forest would be catastrophic. Please extinguish all items before entering the property.
- Feeding wild animals is prohibited. Please enjoy the animals from a safe distance. Feeding animals human food is detrimental to the health of those animals.
- Do not litter. Litter lessens the quality of the outdoor experience for everyone, and can be a hazard to wildlife. If you would like to pick up litter along your hike, bring a trash bag with you.
Self Touring Groups Policy
The guidelines for self-touring groups will be changing effective March 1, 2016. Groups of 15 or more people who wish to tour the Nature Center and Preserve on their own must call two weeks ahead to make a reservation. Groups who arrive without a reservation may be denied access to the nature center if a scheduled program is in progress. Self-touring groups of more than 20 people must have a plan in place to divide into smaller sections and take turns visiting the lobby exhibits.
Wesselman Woods Nature Center
Visitors to Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve enter this unique urban forest through an interpretive center. This facility offers hands on educational exhibits, a wildlife observation area, a gift shop, and two class/activity rooms. Nature Center staff provides programs to school, civic and scout “groups throughout the year.
A Walk in the Woods
The trails through Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve allow visitors an extraordinary opportunity to view Indiana as it was before European settlers arrived. Fortunately, the majority of the Preserve has remained untouched through the years.
There are over six miles of walking trails within the Preserve that lead visitors through stands of massive old-growth trees of various species, through areas densely populated by native wildflowers (spring is the best time to spot these beauties!) and other plantlife, on a raised boardwalk above forest wetlands adjacent to a seasonal pond, and along historical remnants of two railways and the Wabash-Erie Canal.
Tremendous Trees and Plantlife
This lowland forest is of exceptionally high quality. The mean density of trees is high (125 trees per acre) and the canopy starts far above the forest floor. Many canopy level trees exceed 100 feet tall, some of which are estimated to be nearly 300 years old. The basal area of 187 square feet per acre is the highest known for any woods in Indiana.
Saving a Place for Wildlife
Wesselman Woods provides crucial habitat for a wide variety of animal species, including mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. This urban forest is abundant with mammals such as raccoons and squirrels, and is often frequented by white tail deer. There are even occasional sightings of fox and coyote.
Visitors marvel at the many woodpeckers, warblers and other songbirds that reside in or migrate through the forest. Owls and other raptors also regularly inhabit the woods. Efforts to protect the declining populations of rare species, such as the marbled salamander, continue.
Although the Preserve primarily consists of forest habitat, this property also includes a reconstructed prairie, a seasonal pond, a manmade pond, and a grassy berm. These features allow habitat for a greater diversity of wildlife.
Visit the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Nature Preserves website to learn more about the importance of Nature Preserves and old growth forests in Indiana: