Heading outdoors is always an escape from our everyday lives, never more so than during these times where we're being asked to stay apart.

Stemming the spread of COVID-19 and flattening the curve is important work. That's why we need to stay home except for essential trips. But there's still room to explore the green spaces around us at area parks and along trails, so long as we're following social distancing guidelines.

RELATED CONTENT: Best Birding Around The Bend

St. Joseph County Parks, which remain OPEN, are among the best places to get outdoors while maintaining social distance. Learn more about the different parks below.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Keep your social distance — when visiting a park, still maintain at least six feet between yourself and others.
  • Share the trails — allow for enough room to pass each other at a safe distance.
  • Don't congregate in groups — gathers of 10 or more people are prohibited.
  • Many park facilities will be closed — plan for bathrooms, drinking fountains, nature centers, picnic areas, playgrounds and the like to be off limits.

Bendix Woods County Park

This secluded property outside New Carlisle offers 195 acres of wooded trails, ponds and open fields. It features the second highest point in St. Joseph County and is a destination on the Indiana Birding Trail, making it one of The Bend's top birding spots.

LINK: Printable Trail Map

Beverly D. Crone Restoration Area

Situated on the south side of South Bend, Beverly D. Crone is also on the Indiana Birding Trail. In fact, you can find some endangered species in this landfill-turned-natural-area if you look close enough. There's a well-maintained gravel path for visitors to use.

Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve

This state-dedicated nature preserve offers nearly 90 acres of habitat to hike through. About 1.5 miles of trail wind through the woods and there's an observation platform that juts out into the lake itself.

RELATED CONTENT: Explore Potato Creek State Park

Ferrettie/Baugo Creek County Park

The park in Osceola is big at 214 acres with trails along Baugo Creek, which flows into the St. Joseph River. To make your way along the creek for as long as possible, take the Portage Trail.

LINK: Printable Trail Map

Spicer Lake Nature Preserve

Here you'll find a true retreat. Spicer Lake, another park located outside New Carlisle, is 320 acres of wetlands, woods and old-growth fields. It's home to several endangered plants and animals, plus there's a boardwalk so you can walk out into the wetland. It's also on the Indiana Birding Trail.

LINK: Printable Trail Map

St. Patrick's County Park

The county's biggest and most popular park, St. Pat's Park checks in at 398 acres. It's situated on the St. Joseph River and also features wooded trails and ponds. You can spot a nesting pair of bald eagles here — St. Pat's is on the Indiana Birding Trail too — plus many other birds. You can also check out those eagles virtually via the Bald Eagle Cam.

LINK: Printable Trail Map