Heading outdoors is a great escape. And there are few better places around The Bend to get outside than at our county parks. Get to know these amazing green spaces better as you prep for a hike, bike ride or bird watching trip.

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.

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

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.

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