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Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve

COVID-19 UPDATE: Due to an extraordinary increase in traffic related to the effects of COVID-19, the Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve will be temporarily closed on weekends and holidays. The parking lot will be gated promptly at 8:00 pm on Fridays, and reopen at 8:00 am on Mondays. We do not expect this closure to continue indefinitely, but will remain in effect until otherwise announced. Click here to read more and get updates.

This special nature preserve is located in the middle of Monroe Lake, which is designated an “Important Bird Area” by the National Audubon Society. It is located on a portion of the former site of the Indiana University Alumni Association’s Shawnee Bluffs camp. The preserve features a long, forested ridge that extends out into the lake, which is the source of drinking water for the area. Sycamore’s work to protect and restore habitat here 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.

Sycamore’s management efforts at the preserve include the control of invasive plants such as garlic mustard, Japanese stiltgrass, and multiflora rose. We are in the process of converting turf grass next to the parking area into a prairie planting with native wildflowers and grasses.

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.

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

DIRECTIONS

  • 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. Parking is limited.
  • 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.