Castle Keep Preserve
Access: Open to the Public
Acreage: 27.1 acres
Recreational Activities: hiking, fall blooms, fall colors, wildlife viewing
Directions: Located in New Buffalo Township on the south side of Maudlin Rd between Yasko and Lakeside Roads. From New Buffalo’s Whitaker St, turn northeast on Jefferson Rd (which turns into Maudlin) and drive 3.4 miles.
Parking: There is roadside parking on an old gravel farm lane that currently allows space for one or two cars. Additional parking is being considered in the future.
Natural Features: Castle Keep Preserve does not yet have hiking trails as those are still in the planning phase. The property consists of three habitat types. The primary feature is an old agricultural field in the center of the property that has revegetated with many old field plants including goldenrod, autumn olive, and raspberries. Around the perimeter of this field are many young trees that represent natural succession as the surrounding forests expand into the field. On the east and west sides of the field are two deep ravines that contain creeks forming part of the south branch of the Galien River. The bottoms of these ravines are considered floodplain habitats which experience frequent flooding and host a plant community specially adapted to these wet periods. The wooded uplands around the ravines are considered mesic southern forests that boast large beeches, oaks, and maples.
History: This preserve was graciously donated to COL in late 2021. The preserve’s name, Castle Keep, is an homage to the donor’s father, who became a castle aficionado after being stationed in Europe during WWII. It is also a reference to the topography of the property in that the upland field, which is the central area of the property, is nearly encircled by steep ravines, much like a castle and moat.
COMING SOON! Plans for hiking trails and a parking area are in the works. Check back here for updates!