“Trails lead along a historic canal through woods, prairies, and wetlands.”
— Melospiza Melodia
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife
PARK HOURS: Jan-Feb, Nov-Dec - 9 am–6 pm | Mar, Oct - 9 am–7 pm | Apr, Sept - 9 am–8 pm | May-Aug - 9 am–9 pm
Need to Know
The official Benton Dam loop is officially measured at 1.3 miles, but there's a few spots you can either double back, or continue on, so the length varies a tiny bit based on your running style. The loop provides fantastic opportunities for wildlife observation, photography, and fishing. Parking is limited to summer, but visitors can park year-round at the adjacent Benton Spillway.
Find more info, including all of River Preserve Park's access sites and amenities at: elkhartcountyparks.org/dest…
The terrain is mostly flat, but can be a bit dense with foliage, depending on the season. Recommended items include bug spray, long socks or pants, and bottled water.
Anyone who lives in or regularly visits Elkhart County should make a point to run River Preserve County Park. Benton Dam is one of eight access sites at this linear park, and the secluded route will make you feel like a true explorer out in the wilderness, while not straying too far from the city (the closest being Goshen–4.5 miles north). During the best days in fall and spring, prepare to be wowed by the phenomenal colors that this local gem is known for!
Flora & Fauna
Running along the Elkhart River, the trail crosses through a mix of interesting habitats, including a restored prairie, riparian river corridor, and lush deciduous woodland. The result is a fantastic diversity of flora and fauna. What you encounter depends a lot on the season:
SUMMER: Keep an eye out at the canals for river otter and sunbathing turtles (including the elusive Spiny Softshell & Blanding's). Listen for the calls of Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Baltimore Orioles & Prothonitary Warblers–all of them nest here.
FALL: Expect to see fiery hues of foliage (a great photo op), and some of the more secretive insects (praying mantis, walking stick bugs) and singing insects (katydids, meadow & tree crickets)
WINTER: Now is the time for icefishing and hearing owls (Barred or Gr. Horned)
SPRING: Prepare to see a woodland carpeted in spring wildflowers, including Bloodroot, Tigerlily & Trillium.
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