Hiking doesn't have to be a family friendly outdoor activity you call off for winter. Lace up some boots over your warmest socks, add a couple extra layers and head to these parks for a walk off the beaten path.
Bendix Woods County Park
Many favor Bendix Woods County Park during spring when the trillium is in bloom. But don't sleep on this 195-acre park outside New Carlisle during the winter. It includes the second highest point in St. Joseph County and a 27-acre state dedicated nature preserve. It's also one of The Bend's best spots for birding.
Ferrettie-Baugo Creek County Park
Nearly three miles of trail at this park in Osceola includes the 1.1-mile Portage Trail, which eases along Baugo Creek. The creek leads to Baugo Bay and the St. Joseph River. Disc golf enthusiasts can use the course year round (with their own equipment.). Ferrettie-Baugo is also a popular tubing destination.
Potato Creek State Park
Located outside North Liberty, Potato Creek State Park is The Bend's jewel. It's home to over 10 miles of trail for all types of hikes, from easy to more rugged. Trails 1 and 3 work along Worster Lake, the park's most notable feature. Potato Creek is on the Indiana Birding Trail.
Rum Village Park
Rum Village Park is a wooded oasis on the south side of South Bend. Three miles of trails make their way through this natural woodland, which totals 160 acres. Wildlife — birds, fox, deer and more — are plentiful throughout the park.
Spicer Lake Nature Preserve
Often overlooked, this preserve outside New Carlisle is one of The Bend's best natural escapes. Take the Wetland-Woodland-Lancaster Trail Loop for a longer hike (1.5 miles) that includes an observation platform overlooking Lancaster Lake. Spicer Lake is also on the Indiana Birding Trail.
St. Patrick's County Park
St. Patrick's County Park, on the north side of South Bend, is one of the area's most popular and for good reason. Several loops comprise almost five miles of trail, many of which run adjacent to the St. Joseph River. Bald eagles nest nearby, so you might even get a look at the majestic birds.
St. Patrick's is on the Indiana Birding Trail. It also offers cross country skiing, snowshoeing and tubing during the winter.