Taltree Arboretum

Just a few minutes from my mom’s house in Valparaiso, and a place I had driven past countless times, is Taltree Arboretum, one of Northwest Indiana’s hidden gems. Taltree Arboretum is an oak preserve full of gardens, wetlands, prairies, and trails that offers year-round activities and events that are great for everyone.

Railway Garden

I visited Taltree one morning with my mom and Marisol. We entered and paid the US$10 entrance fee (as of October 2017) and went straight to the depot, which features a model railroad garden in the back.

Depot at Taltree Arboretum

Depot

The Railway Garden features model trains that travel from the early days of the American railroad until around the 1920s, with scenes from the Civil War, Lincoln’s funeral train, a limestone quarry, and cities and towns. Several bridges add to the scenery.

Railway Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Railway Garden

Railway Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Railway Garden

Railway Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Railway Garden

Near the Railway Garden were several Halloween decorations. We visited in early October and were told that the garden is decorated differently every season. There were also displays near the parking lot.

Halloween display at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Halloween display

Halloween display at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Halloween display

Halloween display at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Halloween display

 

Trails

With over five miles of trails through natural and restored habitats, Taltree is a great place to go hiking, running, birdwatching, or to walk your dog. Each trail is an extension of the main Bluebird Trail, which is a 1.63 mile loop around a prairie and past wetlands.

Bluebird Trail at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Bluebird Trail

Bluebird Trail at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Bluebird Trail

Other trails are named for birds, some of which can be found in the habitats the trails go through. Notable are the Heron Trail, which surrounds a pond ideal for spotting herons, and the Owl Trail, featuring one of the most diverse oak collections in the world.

Heron Trail at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Heron Trail

Heron Trail at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Heron Trail

 

Gardens

Not too far from the parking lot are some of Taltree’s special gardens. The Rose Garden has several colorful flowers (no roses during my visit).

Rose Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Rose Garden

Rose Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Rose Garden

The Adventure Garden features musical instruments, goats and chickens, and encourages environmental awareness.

Adventure Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Adventure Garden

Goats at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Goats

The Native Plant Garden displays plants native to the region and attracts monarch butterflies.

Native Plant Garden at Taltree Arboretum in Valparaiso, Indiana

Native Plant Garden

 

Events

Taltree hosts numerous events and activities throughout the year, many catering to families and children. Check the official website for more information.

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