Ichalkovsky pinewood is located in a protected monument of nature, Ichalkovsky reserve. The pinewood is located 1.5 km far from the village Ichalki in the bend of the river Piana (on the right bank of the river). Ichalkovsky pinewood is the heart of the reserve. It is known by its dolines: Despite the fact that in the Nizhny Novgorod oblast they are of no surprise, in this place they deserve special attention: caves, grottoes, cliffs, sinkholes, karst ravines, ditches, rocks, defiles (there are more than one thousand dolines) create its own world with its inhabitants. The deeper you make your way through it, the wider the dolines become. The largest one, Kuleva pit, has a length of 200 meters, width of 150-180 m, and depth of 25 meters. At the bottom of large craters one can see small lakes. Dolines are sometimes separated by narrow ridges and bulkhead, and a lot of them have their own names: Devil's Bridge, Swan transition.There are also underground galleries.
The reserve has special microclimate conditions. In summer, it is cooler and more humid in the nature reserve than in the surrounding territories while it is warmer in winter. Thanks to such microclimate, unusual flora and fauna have been preserved here. In Ichalkovsky forest steppe, nemorose, taiga and mountain plants can be found. Among them there are plants listed in the Red Book of Russia (mocassin flower, helleborine, feather grass). The fauna is also represented variously The imperial eagle nests here, and the eagle owl nests in dolines (both of them are listed as endangered). There also such inhabitants of pinewood as big long-eared owl, Tengmalm's owl, and black small owl. The reserve can be called a key ornithological territory of global significance. Reserve is the most important habitat of bats (they flight here for the winter). Due to humidity and plenty of hiding places, there are quite a lot of snakes; even common vipers can be found among them.
One can get to know a lot of features of Ichalkovsky pine forest as well as its inhabitants on a tour around this natural monument.
The most exciting moment during this walking tour will become the moment of exploring grottoes and caves. In some of them one can go down; some of them have their own names: Nameless, Student, Warm, Christmas. Most caves are in the form of a bag, and entrances are located at 5-6 meters above the bottom. The length of caves is from 15 to 25-27 meters. Warm cave has the highest vaults, that is, 15 meters. In some caves (Warm, Cold, Nameless) there are small lakes, and the lake at the bottom of Cold cave is covered with ice even in summer.