Access: open to the public
Acquisition: Donation by Angell Bauer Trust, 2004
Trails: 1 1/2 miles of easy-to-difficult trails through forest to river valley overlook. A steep footpath leads down into the floodplain.
The sanctuary is located on the west side of Barryville Road, about half-mile south of M-79, 4 miles west of Nashville, and 7 miles east of Hastings.
The preserve is located along the steep slopes of the Highbanks Creek. There is approximately 100’ of elevation change between the east and west borders of the preserve, much of it occurring in a dramatic 80’ drop. The steep slope likely protected the land from logging and there is a diverse amount of species of large size on the preserve. Additionally, there is a significant diversity of spring flora on the slopes. There is a fairly diverse wet meadow along the creek that may have nesting Sandhill cranes.
The Gertrude McPharlin Bauer Nature Sanctuary was gifted to SWMLC when the Angell-Bauer Trust dissolved in 2004. The property was the beloved natural area of former Barry County prosecuting attorney Max Bauer and his wife Millie. The sanctuary was named for Bauer’s mother, Gertrude McPharlin Bauer.
Bauer, a conservationist, decided to protect the property by keeping it natural. He planted evergreens in the flatter, 10-acre section and, because he loved wildlife, had a large bird feeder built that held 50 pounds of seed. (The bird feeder has since been reclaimed by the forest fungus and bugs.) Bauer particularly enjoyed the panoramic high vistas along High Banks Creek.
This beautiful and serene property contains a wetland and a spectacular woodland, with steep ravines that drop 100 feet. Many beech and maple trees are over two feet in diameter. The preserve is particularly beautiful during the spring wildflower display and is vibrant during autumn when leaves change color.