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Brown County State Park
A Visit to Brown County State Park
Brown County State Park lies south of Indianapolis, Indiana. It provides a pretty, rolling landscape covered with yellowood, maple, oak, hickory, beech, sassafras, sycamore, birch and other trees. It's a great place to enjoy hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and other activities as well as just a leisurely picnic.
Enjoy a photo journey through the area and learn more about Brown County State Park on this page.
A Bit of Background
Brown County State Park includes 15,776 acres which is just off of highway 46 west of Bloomington and south of Nashville, Indiana. It's the largest, and one of the most popular state parks in Indiana. Autumn is when it experiences the heaviest traffic, pulling in those who want to see the turning leaves.
It offers several campgrounds, including a seperate horsemen's campground, a modern but rustic Inn, and cabins as well. You can see more and make reservations here. There are 70 miles of bridle trails, 20 miles of hiking trails and 20 miles of mounting biking/hiking trails. There is an indoor waterpark, an outdoor swimming pool, and two lakes for fishing. Ogle Lake is the largest lake at 17 acres and Strahl Lake at 7 acres is the smallest. State licenses for fishing are available at the park.
The area surrounding the park provides a lovely drive as well, rolling and wooded with a number of other recreational facilities nearby. The Hoosier National Forest, Charles C. Deem Wilderness Area, and the Paynetown/Fairfax State Recreation Areas lie just south and west of the park. Just to the north is Yellowood State Forest and Monroe Reservoir while Nashville lies to the northeast. Nashville hosts many craft and artisan shops as well as small eateries. Overall, it's a rustic area where goats, horses, donkeys, burros, deer and other animals are common sights and maple syrup is made.
Although fall may be the height of the tourist season, if you're looking for seclusion, visiting during the week is recommended. The photos on this page were taken probably at least a week before the fall "peak" when colors are at their most glorious on a Monday when park traffic was fairly light.
More About the Trails
There are 8 mountain biking trails at Brown County. Two are easy, the Pine Loop trail (1.2 miles) and the Limekiln trail (2.4 miles). The most difficult ones are Schooner Trace (4.1 miles) and the Walnut trail (2.1 miles). They are all included on the map referenced above.
There several hiking trails and one paved/accessible path. Trails 1 (.9 mile), 2 (2 miles), and 3 (1.25 miles) are all near the Abe Martin Inn. They involve hiking through the woods surrounding the Inn and cabins through some ridges and ravines. There are only very small streams in this area and the footing is always good. There are some stone and wooden steps but most of the climbs are via the path winding up the hill sides. These hikes are moderately rugged.
Trails 4 (1.25miles) and 5 (.75 miles) connect near the Rally Campground. These trails are easy to moderate as they offer mostly level terrain but should be considered more rugged as they make significant (and somewhat extended) climbs near the ends. Trail 6 (1.25 miles) is one of my favorite hikes around the park in the fall. It encircles Strahl Lake and provides some pretty views of the opposing shores and their bright foliage. There's a small waterfall near the trail head, where you climb a few stairs, but after that it's a level stroll and one that anyone should be able to handle if they choose to continue around the lake versus taking the spur trail up the stairs to the Nature Center. The first three photos on this page are from Trail 6 around Strahl Lake.
Trail 7 (1.5 miles) takes hikers around Ogle Lake and is another pretty hike that isn't too challenging but provides some nice views of the water and the foliage. Hikers can choose to take off on Trail 4 half way through the hike if they would prefer, rather than completing the walk around Ogle Lake or take a 2.75 mile extension over to trail 9 (a 3 mile hike) that would lead over to Taylor Ridge Campground. Trail 9 is moderately rugged and follows a small stream.
Trail 8 (3.5 miles) can be picked up near the West lookout tower (pictured above) near the West Gatehouse or near Ogle Lake. It's another of my favorite hikes in the park with some nice view of the surrounding woods and the lake. Trail 10 (2.2 miles) is a bit rugged due to climbs as it crosses ravines and hilltops. It can be picked up near the Park Office and the location of an old fire tower, which you can still climb for a view of the surrounding country side; I have a picture near the top of the tower in the slide show below. The paved Friends Trail lies on the opposite side of the park office.
The Discovery Trail (.5 mile) is a self-guided tour near the nature center that can acquaint you with the trees in the area.