Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve

We are thrilled to welcome you to Sycamore’s newest nature preserve with a public trail, the Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve! This special upland habitat located in the middle of Monroe Lake adds to the largest contiguous forest block in Indiana, connecting to the beloved Brown County Hills forest and providing important habitat for raptors and other birds. Monroe Lake is designated an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society. Sycamore’s work here to protect and restore habitat benefits biodiversity, clean water, and environmental education.

Important information for your visit:

  • Parking is very limited, and fills up quickly on weekends and holidays. No overflow parking is available and street parking is prohibited.
  • The shoreline of Monroe Lake is managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources as part of the lake, and DNR rules apply to the shore area. See the DNR’s Monroe Lake webpage for details.


Thanks to the generosity of the Weingartner and Branigin families, this nature preserve was named in memory of Amy Weingartner Branigin. Amy was a lover of nature, especially bats, and explored caves as a kid while her father Larry Weingartner conducted his research on cave fauna. When Amy passed away in 2012 of a brain tumor, her family sought a way to memorialize her in nature. This is a fitting tribute to the life of a wonderful person.

The trail at the preserve is named in memory of Don and Betsy Whitehead, thanks to gifts from the Whitehead family and friends. Don and Betsy spent many hours birding at Lake Monroe, and Don was the long-time organizer of the Lake Monroe Christmas Bird Count. Don also led groundbreaking research on the effects of forest fragmentation on migrant songbirds in southern Indiana. This nature preserve is located on the former site of the IU Alumni Association’s Shawnee Bluffs camp.

Please help us continue important conservation projects like this. Donate today. Thank you!


  • The preserve is located on Rush Ridge Road, off of State Road 446.
  • From 3rd Street in Bloomington, head south on State Road 446
  • Just before you get to the causeway and after you pass the entrance to Paynetown, turn left onto Rush Ridge Rd
  • Be careful when turning left, as visibility from oncoming traffic isn’t great
  • Drive slowly through Rush Ridge Rd, taking a left at the fork Pass the gated driveway and you will see a Sycamore sign next to our parking lot
  • Turn right into the parking lot
  • Do not park on the road; parking is only available in the parking lot. Please note that parking space is quite limited, with only seven spots plus one accessible spot. We encourage visitors to carpool.
  • Parking on the street, driveway, or neighbors’ properties is prohibited and could result in towing.
  • County: Monroe
  • Hours: 8am - 8pm
  • Acres: 48
  • Year Acquired: 2015
  • Features: 1.7 miles of lake frontage on Lake Monroe, the largest inland lake in the state; habitat for red-shouldered hawks, broad-winged hawks, and eastern box turtles; thick upland hardwood forest.
  • Trail: 2.2 miles total (1.1 each way) built by the Hoosier Hikers Council and utilizing an old road. Moderately rugged and rocky.
  • Acquired with Gifts From: The Weingartner, Branigin, Jarvis, and Seeber families; the Bicentennial Nature Trust; the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County; Loren Wood Builders; and Sycamore members.