A Walk in the Woods: Madeline Bertrand County Park

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By: John Griffee

Staff Columnist

Madeline Bertrand County Park overlooks the St. Joseph River along the Michigan state line and shares a trail line with nearby Saint Patrick’s County Park. While the park is well known for its disc golf course, the park offers fun and enjoyment for families, hikers and disc golf enthusiasts alike.

The main entryway of Madeline Bertrand welcomes visitors with a beautiful open area hosting the Bertrand Lodge, a playground and signs leading towards the trails offered at the park.  A statue of the Potawatomi woman the park is named after, Madeline Bertrand, adorns the walkway to the Topenebee Shelter and Visitor Center. It provides a reminder of the rich Native American history of the area.

A popular destination for families, Madeline Bertrand Country Park has amenities at their shelters around the park for visitors. The River Shelter hosts a pavilion with a fire pit and grand overlook of the St. Joseph River. The river reflects splashes of fall colors like a canvas, a sign of Autumn’s coming arrival, and one of the many picturesque views on the trails. The riverfront trail combines the beauty and tranquility of the river with the multicolored forest.

Famous for their disc golf course, COVID-19 has shut down most of the major events, however, visitors can still play the 18-hole stretch. The course encompasses the forest section of the park, encircled by one of the primary trails.

Nearby the entrance are the trailheads that designate the beginnings of the three main trails at Madeline Bertrand. Each trail corresponds to one of three colors; red, yellow and green. The colors are used to help guide hikers, along with denoting the difficulty of the loop. Dogs are allowed on the trails but they must be on a leash for the entirety of the time there.

The green loop is the most challenging trail, taking hikers through the length of the park’s bounds. It is a shared biking and hiking trail that its approximately 2.2 miles long. The yellow trail shares a similar length but it includes a stop at the River Shelter with a beautiful overlook of the St. Joseph River. The red trail is the shortest, focusing on the forest at the park from higher elevations to the showcase the flood plain area. 

The park is open year-round, and is currently open each day from 10 a.m. to sunset, and will begin to close at 5 p.m. at the start of November. With variable trails that showcase the beauty of the area and some of the wildlife that can be found around, Madeline Bertrand County Park is well worth the trip. 

Is there a park that you want to see covered? Email me at jgriffee@iu.edu with suggestions.

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