Pine Hills Nature Preserve and the Devil's Backbone (GM-29)
Thousands of years ago, when ice covered much of Indiana, hemlock and white pine were among the most common trees of the state. Still common in Canada, these trees today are found in Indiana only in restricted relic stands where cool, shady conditions prevail.

Such a place is the Pine Hills Nature Preserve, just east of Shades State Park. Here Indiana Creek and its tributaries have cut deep, sinuous canyons separated by narrow ridges called backbones, and here these trees that are now considered northern species have found a home.

Because hemlocks had no value as timber, they were left when much of the rest of this area was cleared. Dozens of hemlock stands are found along Sugar Creek in the area of the Shades and Turkey Run State Parks.

Our Hoosier State Beneath Us: Geomorphology


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