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Brown County State Park: Trails and Hiking

I am an avid hiker and I like sharing some of the places I've hiked (or biked) with others. I also offer tips for beginners.


A Visit to Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park lies south of Indianapolis, Indiana. It provides a pretty, rolling landscape covered with yellowwood, 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 are 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 separate 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.

Hiking around Lake Strahl

Hiking around Lake Strahl

Surrounding Areas

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 are Yellowwood State Forest and Monroe Reservoir.
  • 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 on a Monday when park traffic was fairly light. It was probably at least a week before the fall "peak" when colors are at their most glorious.


About the Trails

There are eight 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 hillsides. These hikes are moderately rugged.

Trails 4 (1.25 miles) 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 trailhead, 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 halfway 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 views 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 countryside; 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.

Another Look at Brown County

© 2009 Ruth Coffee

Let Us Know You Stopped By!

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on June 14, 2010:

Another gorgeous park contribution from you enticing me off into dreamland. I didn't know the beautiful Brown County State Park before I dropped in to bless this lens

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on October 23, 2009:

This is great! And seeing all of those state park lenses, I've been inspired to make some myself. Our country has SO many wonderful Parks--national, state, and local. We're so lucky for that.

anonymous on October 21, 2009:

Great photos Mulberry, and very informative. Thank you once again.

Kate Loving Shenk from Lancaster PA on October 21, 2009:

A beautiful lens!!


irenemaria from Sweden on October 21, 2009:

Amazing park. The nature is sooo much like Sweden too. We have a wonderful home - planet earth

Ruth Coffee (author) from Zionsville, Indiana on October 20, 2009:

[in reply to pickerd] Yes, I suppose it is much more south than west. It's mostly just west of Interstate 65 for those of us who use that coming south from Indy.

anonymous on October 20, 2009:

FYI, Brown County State Park is south (not southwest) of Indianapolis