Located conveniently near State Road 46 just west of Columbus, this 98-acre preserve is larger than any park in Bartholomew County and is an excellent spot for hiking, bird watching, and enjoying nature. A mowed parking area along County Club Road provides access to two miles of mowed trails through scenic woods and fields, which are old farm fields now reverting to nature. Look for the kiosk by the parking lot on the east side of the road, which is across the road from a stone house. The trail features several benches, an observation deck, and a tree identification trail by Cub Scout Pack 557.
Touch the Earth was purchased by Sycamore in 1995 and 1998 through the help of Sycamore Land Trust members and many generous donors.
Restoration work – the reason for all the dead bushes:
Beginning in the fall of 2011, visitors to Touch the Earth would likely notice that many of the large bushes along the trail are now dead. As the former agricultural fields at the preserve succeeded into natural vegetation, they also became heavily infested with many exotic invasive bushes including autumn olive, privet, and Asian bush honeysuckle. These aggressive exotics crowd out native plants to the detriment of the natural ecosystem; this is most dramatic along the north side of the north trail loop, where the trail passes through a thick stand of almost solid autumn olive.
Sycamore received funding from the USDA – Natural Resource Conservation Service’s Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) for three years of invasive treatment at Touch the Earth. Habitat Solutions of Columbus is performing the work and donating their materials. Sycamore has also planted thousands of trees at Touch the Earth, many of them by volunteers.
Directions to Touch the Earth:
- From Columbus, go west on State Road 46 for 5 miles to Country Club Road and turn left (south). Look for the blue water tower that is across SR 46 from Country Club Road.
- From Bloomington and Nashville, travel east on SR 46, past Nashville. 4 miles after crossing the Bartholomew County line, turn right onto Country Club Road, the next road after Wolf Creek Road.
- The entrance and parking area for Touch the Earth are approximately a half mile south of SR 46 on the left (east), across from a stone house.
Sycamore’s Tangeman Woods preserve, featuring the Outdoor Lab trail, is just on the other side of State Road 46 from Touch the Earth. Be sure to visit them both!
Touch the Earth Natural Area and Tangeman Woods on Google Maps
View Sycamore Land Trust Preserves in a larger map
Touch the Earth Natural Area Trail Map