Mm, smell that crisp, autumn air? There’s a certain tanginess to it, a welcome relief from the mugginess of summer.
If you’re new to Fort Wayne or visiting the city, you might want to get an up-close view of what our local flora and fauna look like. So, tie on your walking shoes and grab a jacket. We’ve got a touch of wilderness right in northeast Fort Wayne, and autumn is the perfect time to see our piece of nature at its colorful best.
Explore the Native Trees of Indiana River Walk in Fort Wayne
The Native Trees of Indiana River Walk is a spacious, asphalt-paved 1.25-mile-long pedestrian trail. The River Walk follows the St. Joseph River as it runs through the Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW) campus. Find the trailhead near the campus entrance closest to the Coliseum Blvd. and North Anthony Blvd. intersection, in Parking Lot 10 by the Ron Venderly Family Bridge.
The trail is eight feet wide, so there is plenty of room for walkers, joggers, bicyclists and rollerblade enthusiasts. Some people like to take a stroller, too, to give the kids some fresh air.
What you really notice when you’re on the walk is how wild it feels. There is an estuary of the St. Joe River that meanders close by, and the brush growing around it is practically untouched. On a still morning, the water reflects the shaggy grasses and waiting leaves with a mirror-like quality.
The birds, too, love this place. From the geese that nest nearby to the ducks and an occasional crane, there is plenty of wildlife to spot. The little songbirds that live here are always ready with a cheery tune, and in the early mornings, their clear notes carry across the water to serenade students and walkers hurrying past. In the evening, their songs are softer, as though they are hushing the world for a good rest.
And then, of course, there are the trees. Some spots you walk through have a cathedral feeling, with branches arching overhead for dozens of feet. It is cool, shaded, and rustling with color. Vibrant red Virginia Creeper wraps around tall trunks and gives a splash of contrast. Then the trees slowly start to turn, first, a small branch becoming gold here, then more. One leaf decides to take the plunge, and then the world is full of rustling, crunching bits of autumn. It is the perfect place for a fall walk in Fort Wayne.
Discover more than 100 native Indiana trees along your path! Look for the signposts to help you identify and learn about the trees as you explore.
Learn more about the Native Trees of Indiana River Walk at Purdue Fort Wayne and plan your fall visit!
This post was originally published in 2016 and has been updated. Last Updated: August 2023