J. Timothy Ritchie Nature Preserve
photo: Susan Kirt
J. Timothy Ritchie Nature Preserve is a reminder of the not-so-distant past in Porter County, a time before woodlands and prairies were destroyed in the name of suburban development. This quiet woodland is covered with ephemeral wildflowers in the spring, including a notable display of large-flowered trilliums. The location also provides significant habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including migrating and nesting birds. The cool waters of Sand Creek flow by on their way to the nearby Little Calumet River, a tributary of Lake Michigan.
The preserve is a pocket of rich floodplain along the banks of Sand Creek. As the surrounding properties were transformed into suburban developments, this tract of land was left mostly untouched, giving a glimpse of what must have been a large forest with spectacular displays of wildflowers in April and May. Natural features present here include beech and maple upland forest, with floodplain wetlands along the creek. Shirley Heinze Land Trust is preserving the property as a natural area and managing it in a way that will make it a community resource for educational and recreational activities.
J. Timothy Ritchie Preserve is located within a residential neighborhood in the Town of Chesterton. From I-94, exit south on St Rd 49 to Indian Boundary Rd, and turn left. Continue east for about 1.3 miles to Wake Robin Dr. Turn right and proceed to Dogwood Rd. Turn left and continue to Violet Ave. Turn right and park at the end of Violet. A loop trail traverses the property.