Sometimes you just need to go for a walk in the woods.
A few hours on a nature trail can do wonders for your mental and physical health. You don’t need any special gear to enjoy time outdoors hiking. Just grab a pair of binoculars, throw a couple of bottles of water in a backpack and lace up your favorite boots or gym shoes.
Leave your phone at home. You’ll survive without it for a few hours.
There is somewhere to get outdoors to hike or walk on a nature trail in every Indiana county. State parks, the Hoosier National Forest, fish and wildlife areas, nature preserves, wildlife refuges and many other properties offer such trails.
Here are five places worth checking out this year.
Spring Mill State Park
Spring Mill State Park is located three miles east of Mitchell, but worth the drive from anywhere in Indiana.The focal point of the unique park is the pioneer village that was founded in the early 1800s. The availability of year-round water running from springs drew settlers to the area. The park has numerous hiking trails and plenty of paved paths for walking.
While there are many great hiking trails in the Indiana, none are longer or more challenging than the Knobstone Trail.The Knobstone is a 58-mile journey through the hills of southern Indiana. Elevation change is challenging, the scenery is incredible and the solitude is deafening.
Passing through lands of the Clark State Forest, Hoosier National Forest, Elk Creek Public Fishing Area, and Jackson-Washington State Forest, the Knobstone Trail belongs to all Hoosiers. This trail can be hiked in short sections or tackled as one long through hike. Either way, it is a must hike for any serious Indiana outdoor enthusiast.
National ForestThe Hoosier National Forest encompasses more than 200,000 acres. The topography of the Hoosier varies greatly. From deep ravines, to rolling hills, to river bottoms, you will be able to find a terrain that fits your desired style of hiking.
Primitive camping is allowed throughout the forest and along most roads, so you can extend your hike into a multi-day backpacking experience. There are many trails in the forest, but one is free to roam at will. Sometimes no path at all is the best trail to take.
The Morgan-Monroe State Forest consists of 24,000 acres of public land.The forest is easy to find off Highway 37, between Martinsville and Bloomington. This is densely wooded, rough country with steep ridges and deep valleys and trails running throughout.
Make sure to be in good shape before trying to tackle the hills of this forest. Primitive camping is available at two campgrounds, Mason Ridge and Oak Ridge. Campsites are equipped with a picnic table and grill, and each campground provides vault toilets and seasonal drinking water.
Turkey Run State Park
Lichen-covered sandstone canyons, long stretches of Sugar Creek scenic overlooks, old-growth hardwood forests, a multitude of covered bridges and a trail system to rival any state park in the Midwest, Turkey Run State Park is undoubtedly one Indiana’s must hike destinations.Trail highlights include passage through Falls Canyon, ladders to take you up steep ravines, points overlooking the creek, large rock outcroppings, a suspension bridge and plentiful wildlife.
Turkey Run is a popular camping destination. If you want to camp there on a weekend, make your reservations now.
See you down the trail.
Brandon Butler’s outdoors column appears occasionally in The Tribune. Send comments to [email protected].