Twin Swamps Nature Preserve is probably the best place to experience the Point’s unique ecosystem. Its wetlands and sloughs demonstrate its up-north, deep-south character and the old growth forests are a lonely remnant of the environmentally rich, low lying communities that once thrived over large portions of the Ohio and Wabash River valleys.
A long, winding loop trail passes through 597 acres of river bottom flat woods and several representative ecosystems, including the two swamps, which are not really twins. One is a Cypress swamp, the other an Overcup Oak swamp. Overcup Oak is rarely found outside the immediate area.
The highlight of the trail is a boardwalk that extends over 300 feet into the Cypress swamp and culminates at an elevated viewing tower. It is a place of incredible natural beauty. Red-tipped Cypress knees emerge from shallow black water that reflects the majestic old Cypress and Cottonwood trees that tower over the swamp.
Sitting on the tower, or one of the benches along the boardwalk, and listening to the abundant animal life of the swamp is one of the more relaxing experiences you will encounter.
The purpose of the cypress knees is unknown, but many scientists believe they have something to do with circulating oxygen to the underwater parts of the tree.
Although the boardwalk through the Cypress swamp is the main attraction, Twin Swamps is home to a fascinating variety of plants and animals.
The preserve is a premiere place for bird watching, home to many species including the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and the brilliantly colored Prothonotary Warbler, as well as a great variety of migrating birds.
There are many reptiles and amphibians in the underbrush, including a fascinating variety of salamanders, some of which are rarely found outside the immediate area.
In addition to the Bald Cypress and Overcup Oak, the preserve is also home to Swamp White Oak, Shagbark Hickory, Cherrybark Oak and Pin oak, Post Oak, Red Maple, and Paw Paws, among others.
In season, a wide variety of wildflowers grace the underbrush. For those interested in plant biology, Twin Swamps is incredibly diverse with plants such as the Green Dragon, Jack in the Pulpit, Sassafras, and Carex, among many others. And don’t forget the poison ivy.
Seriously. Don’t forget the poison ivy. Twin Swamps is a special place, but if you are planning a visit, don’t forget that it is actually a swamp. Take care when planning a visit. If the weather has been wet, the trails will likely be muddy and a good pair of rubber boots are the best way to go. If it’s summer, there will be mosquitos and other bugs, as well as poison ivy on both sides of the trail. Visitors need to set their expectations and dress accordingly.