Off the Beaten Path: 4 New Brown County Hikes

Brown County’s beautiful fall scenery—without the crowds.

This article is part of the Rediscover Brown County package in the October 2016 Indianapolis Monthly issue. For more on our favorite fall destination, click here.

The Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill

593 acres / 2.8-mile partially finished loop trail and old gravel service road (easy to rugged)
Opened  2016
Field notes  With deeply wooded ridges in a remote corner of Brown County, this nature preserve might be one of the area’s most primitive
public areas.
Look for  Woodland reptiles like painted box turtles; frog ponds; remnants of old homesteads.
Where  From Gnaw Bone, east on State Road 46, south on Valley Branch Road, 1.5 miles on the left.

Stone Head Nature Preserve stone-head2

122 acres / 5.4 miles of crisscrossing trails (easy to moderate)
Opened  2015
Field notes  Private owner is donating old farm property adjacent to House at Stone Head vacation rental to a land trust for public use. Diverse topography includes ponds, forest, and pasture restored to wetlands and prairie (a butterfly and bird haven encircled by hills).
Look for  Songbirds, raptors, waterfowl; wildflowers; quirky artwork.
Where  4645 Bellsville Pike (intersection State Road 135 and Bellsville Pike, south of Gnaw Bone).

Courtesy Sycamore Land Trust

Trevlac Bluffs Nature Preserve 

260 acres / 3.3 miles of trails (easy to moderate)
Opened  2015
Field notes  Named after the tiny nearby town of Trevlac and long a source of local wonderment, the Bluffs are 200-foot-high cliffs along Bean Blossom Creek. The property also includes wooded wetlands.
Look for  Hemlock trees, holdovers from Indiana’s cooler post-glacial climes; woodpeckers and yellow-billed cuckoos.
Where  Southwest from Trevlac on State Road 45, left on Old State Road 45, 0.2 miles on the left.

Hitz-Rhodehamel Woods hitz-rhodehamel2

350 acres / 1-mile and 1.6-mile trails (moderate to rugged)
Opened  2012
Field notes  Trails skirt ridgelines, drop to creek bottoms, and climb high hills, traversing deep hardwood forest and a prescribed-fire area marked with an informative placard on forest ecology (one of several that dot the property).
Look for  Majestic oaks; rare native and migratory birds; colorful woodland fungi.
Where  Off State Road 135 north of Nashville, east on Greasy Creek Road, immediate left on Freeman Ridge Road, 1.4 miles on the left.


Photos by Evan West unless otherwise noted