Lace up those hiking boots and hit the trails…it’s time to go on a trek in Brown County! With the largest state park in Indiana, a state forest, part of a national forest, and several nature preserves, your hiking options are endless! So how do you decide where to go? That’s where we come in! Over the course of the next couple of months, we’re going to give you the lay of the land and insider tips on our favorite Brown County hikes in this Hiking in the Hills blog series!
The topic of this first post: kid-friendly hikes!
Trying to hike with the kiddos should be fun, not a hassle. You want a trail that’s not too long, but not too short either (right in that attention span sweet spot). You also need one that’s not too tough, but something that will burn off some of that crazy kid energy. Oh yeah, and it needs to have plenty of sights to see along the way too! Don’t worry…we’ve got a few trails that check all those boxes!
Discovery Trail in the Brown County State Park
Right next to the Nature Center, the Discovery Trail is an easy half-mile trek that’s fun for the whole family! More than just a hike, the Discover Trail has informational stops along the way. Grab a guide map at the trail head and make your way into the woods. As you hike, you’ll come along numbered markers. Refer to your guide map to discover what you’re looking at. Learn about native plants, trees, and wildlife as you meander under the treetops on this simple trail with hardly any ascents and descents. Since the trail is next to the Nature Center, you might at well check that out too! You’ll find cool interactive exhibits, a bird watching room, gardening exhibits, and other informative displays. Be sure to ask if there are any special programs or workshops going on while you’re there!
Virtual Tour of the Discovery Trail
Trail 6 in the Brown County State Park
This trail has two options…a shorter, easier version and a longer, tougher version. Both options are equally as fun and will give you prime views of Strahl Lake! For the longer hike, you’ll start at the Nature Center and will have a 0.75-mile descent before reaching the loop around Strahl Lake. While this may be a breeze on the way down, just remember that you and the kiddos will have to climb back up the many, many stairs on this trail! If you choose to do this option, it adds on 1.5-miles of hiking and gives the family more of an adventure…and the opportunity to check out the Nature Center before or after the journey!
The other option is to park in the Strahl Lake lot and hop on Trail 6 there! The path makes a simple loop around the lake. During this one-mile trek, you’ll travel across several boardwalks and staircases that lead you closer to the water’s edge. You’ll also pass through a grove of pine trees, cross over a rock bridge, and maybe even see a waterfall depending on the recent weather! The kids may even spot some turtles sunbathing in the water, frogs, and water fowl!
Virtual Tour of Trail 6
Trail 7 in the Brown County State Park
Another fun trail for the little ones is Trail 7. A beautiful 1.4-mile loop around Ogle Lake, this hike is great for anyone who enjoys a mix of forest and water…and some great views! Trail 7 is an easy-intermediate trek that’s relatively flat, minus a handful of brief climbs up a few sets of stairs. Besides offering scenic views of Ogle Lake throughout most of the hike, there are plenty of chances to stop off on benches, lookout platforms, or tables for breaks or even a picnic lunch! The kiddos also are likely to see some local animals and birds enjoying the lake life. Be on the lookout for a playground that sits just off the trail too!
Virtual Tour of Trail 7
Resource Management Trail in Yellowwood State Forest
If you’re wanting to venture outside the State Park with the kiddies, check out the Resource Management Trail in Yellowwood State Forest! This relatively flat 1.1-mile trail is secluded, woodsy, and even has informational plaques scattered throughout the hike with fun facts about the forest. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped deep into the woods as you trek around this trail. You’ll even get to cross a few creek beds along the way…great for splishin’ and splashin’ in. To get to this trail, park in the Yellowwood State Forest Office parking lot. Walk up the driveway and cross the street to find the trail head. Then, get ready for a real back woods adventure! There’s also a lake in Yellowwood State Forest that the kids may want to explore too!
Friends Trail in the Brown County State Park
If your young one is too tiny to hike on their own…or you don’t want to have them strapped to you the whole time, there are a couple of paved trails that are stroller-friendly. The Friends Trail in the Brown County State Park is a quick, not even half-mile walk that’s easy and fun. Under the shade of the massive trees that surround you, this trail is a good way to enjoy the outdoors with the little tyke. You can find the Friends Trail near the fire tower and park office.
Virtual Tour of the Friends Trail
Salt Creek Trail near Nashville
Another paved option is the Salt Creek Trail near the Village of Nashville. About 0.78-miles one way, the Salt Creek Trail is a pretty flat, easy walk along the scenic Salt Creek. With a picnic table, benches, and play area along the trail, there are plenty of spots to take a breather. You can access this trail by CVS in Nashville or the by the Brown County YMCA.
Virtual Tour of the Salt Creek Trail
There you have it…our list of top kid-friendly, kid-approved hikes! There’s no reason now not to bring the family and hit the trails in Brown County!