Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Carlson Oxbow Nature Park - Hammond IN

I often drove by it and wondered what was back there. Going down the frontage road of 177th you are consumed getting from Kennedy to Cline, because this is typically why you use this road. As you drive down 177th you here 80/94 above you, you see a small industrial park, and a bunch of trees. However, you never take notice of much else.



The Kennedy side of this nature park was updated 2011 with some new pavement and what looks to be future off roads.  After the construction was completed it seemed more inviting to travel down 177th just for fun, rather than just a means to cross from Kennedy to Cline.  So I did just that.  I tried to figure out how to get back in there.  I knew something was back there because I had heard people talk about it.  Could I drive through, or did I have to find a hiking path?  Eventually I parked in a lot off 177th, near a path entrance.  I took my camera with and walked in.

Very surprisingly there was a very nice board walk zigzagging over the wetland.  Very well constructed, and wide.  The local growth framed the board walk as you walked through, sometimes giving you a peak into the wetland.

The trip seemed long going in, probably because I was shooting photos.  The trip back was very quick.  This is not a path to get a lot of exercise on.  Here is another map showing the paths and estimated distance.

Click on the photo to enlarge. (Same with the other photos.)



Once you get through the board walk onto land again, the area opens up and becomes more scenic.

The red barrier in the background separates 80/94 from the park.

There are several things I enjoy about this nature park.  First is that even though it is in a residential and commercial area, it is still secluded between 80/94, Kennedy, Cline, and the Cal Sag.  When I was there I saw very few people using the park.  There is also a makeshift bike path that follows the Cal Sag between Kennedy and Cline.  Off the bike path into the Cal Sag there is a short dock to walk out on.  If they were to pave the bike path I would definitely consider biking up there instead of driving.






When I was there I ran into a crew from Hammond who were keeping up the nature park.  I talked to them for a while and found out this is mostly volunteer work.  As they keep improving the paths, planting more plants, and adding some structures, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep it all maintained.  From what I saw, they are doing a very good job.

This nature park is a very good start for NW Indiana.  I had commented to the people maintaining the park that it is beginning to remind me of the Morton Arboretum in Lisle-IL, but different and to a much smaller scale.  The hope of the park is for people to volunteer, helping out with the maintenance and development.  In return they are willing to put up a sign with your name or club, in the section you are wanting to help maintain throughout the year.  I believe they said one of the Boy Scout troops in the area are doing this.

If you get a chance please check this nature park out.  It is small and interesting enough to keep you engaged for a couple hours.  There are places to sit and relax, and you can sit on the edge and look over the Cal Sag with peace and tranquility.  If you feel like volunteering some time and energy, go on a Saturday morning and look for the people working the grounds.  They are friendly, willing to answer questions, and would really appreciate the help.  If that is not your cup of tea for a Saturday morning, go anyway and enjoy.

For more information you can go to this website:  http://www.hammondindiana.com/carlson-oxbow.htm

Later I hope to have a map plotted of the trail to help you get around.


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