Arrowhead Marsh (97 acres) and Arrowhead Prairie (158 acres) are located across Aboite Road from each other near Roanoke, Indiana. Together they comprise 255 acres of wetland, prairie, and woods. Arrowhead Marsh and 91 acres of Arrowhead Prairie were acquired and restored to natural habitats between 2000 and 2006. Sixty-seven acres added to Arrowhead Prairie in 2009 have also been restored and a demonstration native plant garden created.
Ongoing stewardship care, including the use of prescribed burns, is needed to protect the native vegetation at both properties from being overrun by invasive plant species. Fires set by lightning or Native Americans were part of the life cycle of plants in the Little River watershed before the wetlands were drained for farmland in the late 1800s. Native plants have longer roots and a tendency to start growing later in the spring than invasive plants do. These characteristics help them survive fires in early spring or late fall, while invasive plants will usually be destroyed.
Arrowhead Marsh's almost two miles of nature trails wind through marsh, native tallgrass prairie and mature woods. Wander here in spring, summer and fall to see beautiful wildflowers, grassland birds, ducks and other water birds, amphibians, and mammals such as fox, mink and deer. Many more birds, including sandhill cranes, visit during migration. In winter, stop to observe animal tracks and other wildlife signs. (Note: After periods of rain or during spring snowmelt, the Arrowhead Marsh trail or parking area may be too wet to use.)
Arrowhead Prairie’s 158 acres have been restored to prairie, wetland and woods except for a parking area and an educational garden featuring native grasses, sedges and wildflowers found elsewhere in the Arrowhead preserves. Visitors can start from the garden to hike a half-mile trail through tallgrass prairie. South of the garden, they can take Trail 2 to Trail 3 and hike almost three miles of trails through the preserve. Like its sister preserve, Arrowhead Prairie is a haven for birds, butterflies, and other wetland and prairie creatures. Over 98% of Indiana's original grasslands have been destroyed, making preserves like this one vital for wildlife--especially ground-nesting birds--that need such habitats. Many of these birds, such as the Henslow’s sparrows seen at Arrowhead Prairie last summer, are in serious decline.