Visiting Brown County State Park has been a family tradition as far back as I can remember. Nestled at the far northern tip of the Hoosier National Forest, it is the largest of Indiana's State Parks. The park contains 70 miles of bridle trails, 47 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails. The first of several visits usually begin around the beginning of fall. When the mornings are cool and the leaves are beginning to turn ever so lightly I get the urge to head out. From our home its a brisk hour and a half drive through the scenic knobs of Southern Indiana. Farmers stands, flea markets, and log cabins are common place in these parts. Its not unusual to pass an elderly couple casually rocking on their front porch on the way there and back. Most visitors enter via the North Gatehouse near the town of Nashville.
The Henry Wolfe Covered Bridge built in 1838 greets visitors as they cross over the Salt Creek. In the immediate area you’ll find the Abe Martin Lodge, which is reminiscent of an estate lodge you would find out west. If you’re in the adventurous spirit, a nearby horse stable offers hourly back country trips on horse back. For the little ones, a small fee can have them on the back of miniature ponies, circling a small course. I usually take my time driving over the scenic terrain hitting my favorite spots.
The Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve is one of them. This 41 acre tract of mesic upland forest contains a great diversity of plants and animals, including the rare yellowwood tree. The Nature Center is a family favorite. Containing a small snake exhibit, it is also the trailhead for Strahl Lake.
Trail #6, as its also called, is a rugged 1.5 mile hike traversing hilly knobs, rocky streams, and eventually descending into a valley containing Strahl Lake. If you love photography as I do, you’ll appreciate the playfulness of shadows cast by the dense canopy of this portion of forest. Now on to the best part.
The drive from Hesitation Point to the West Gatehouse is not to be missed! Hesitation Point is Brown Countys most beloved vista. From here anyone can gaze out over endless miles of forested hills. Come during peak leaf season and you’ll be treated to a spectacular show of fall colors.
Just a short distance away is West Lookout Tower. This rustic two story stone and log structure stands guard high above a hill overlooking the hills surrounding the town of Nashville, Indiana. Climb the stairs to the second story and soak in all the views from this beautiful place. If you’re ever in Southern Indiana, make sure to plan a stop at Brown County State Park!
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