Fitch Natural History Reservation
To reach the Fitch Trail, park across the road (E. 1600 Road) in the circle drive of the McColl Reserve, then cross the road, passing through the pedestrian entrance on the left side of the large gate with stone pillars. Proceed along the old road inside the gate for 400 yards to the trailhead. This area includes a shelter, extensive interpretive signage and restroom, and is the point of departure for the public trail set by Henry Fitch, KU herpetologist, who lived with his family here from 1948 until shortly before his death in 2009. Fitch conducted the longest-running herpetological study in the world, spanning more than 50 years, at the Field Station.
This 590-acre reserve, now known as the Fitch Reservation, was established in 1947 on land donated to KU in 1911 by Sara Robinson, widow of Charles Robinson, first governor of Kansas. It is managed according to the standards of that time, which were to "let nature take its course." It serves as a permanent location for studying native plants and animals, and over the past 70 years, numerous studies have provided a wealth of scientific knowledge related to succession, or how plant and animal communities change over time.
For detailed information on the natural history of this reservation, see Henry Fitch's guide to the Fitch Reservation.