If you’re looking for a change of pace this fall and want to get in some prime leaf peeping (and a little off the beaten path adventure), check out these scenic drives! That’s right, here are some great ways to enjoy Brown County’s bold colors, while bypassing the crowds. We all know the downtown Village and State Park can be pretty packed, so we suggest hitting up these beautiful back roads to see the leaves, not all the people!
These fall drives start in Nashville and travel through some of our funky little suburbs, before looping back to town. Along the way, you’ll be able to explore some fun roadside attractions! An added bonus…if you come in October, you can see local artists at work in their home studios on the Back Roads of Brown County Studio Tour! Click here to see the Studio Tour map.
Route 1: Bean Blossom/Gatesville Loop (All Paved)
Grab some sweet and salty snacks in the Village at one of our awesome treat shops before starting out on your scenic journey! Once you’ve stocked up on goodies, take State Road 135 North toward Bean Blossom. Two things to see before you get there: the Bean Blossom Overlook and the Bean Blossom Covered Bridge! You’ll find the Bean Blossom Overlook jutting off the highway. Stop for sprawling views of the fall colors and snap a quick pic. Right before you get to the neighborhood of Bean Blossom, you’ll see Covered Bridge Road on your left. Take a quick detour down that road to discover the Bean Blossom Covered Bridge. Built in 1880, it’s one of only three Howe Single Through Trusses in existence!
Turn around and make your way back to State Road 135 North. Browse Plum Creek Antiques before turning right on Gatesville Road. Take that about three miles before turning left onto Bean Blossom Road. Shortly after, you’ll stumble across the Farmhouse Café on the right. Pop in to enjoy a tasty and oh-so-fresh lunch or dinner in this old 1800s brick farmhouse. Check out the flower and herb barn there too!
After the Farmhouse, turn right on Bean Blossom Road for just a bit before taking another right onto Sprunica Road. You’ll then take a left on Sprunica Ridge Road and right Vaught Road to see artist Rosey Bolte’s The Uncommon Gourd Studio. You’ll also find jewelry pieces by the talented Amy Greely there!
From the studio, you’ll then hop on Upper Salt Creek Road. This will run right up to Gatesville Road, where you will take a left. Continue onto Salt Creek Road where you’ll find the next roadside attraction, the Gatesville Country Store. Stop in this truly authentic Americana mart for grab-and-go items…and some pretty darn good food. Trust us when we say you need to try their breakfast! You can even go gold panning out back too!
Take a left back out onto Salt Creek Road and you’ll eventually run into State Road 46 East. While you’re tootling on Salt Creek, take the short offshoot on Annie Smith Road to see unique metal art at Cox Creek Mill. You also can check out handcrafted furniture and home décor at the Hoosier Barn & Table home studio right along Salt Creek Road. Guest art from Mule Works will be there too!
Once you hit State Road 46 East you have two options. Turn left to head to Gnaw Bone, home to a local distillery, winery, and a couple other country stores/coffee shops…or turn right to take the highway back to the Village!
Route 2: Stone Head/Story/Valley Branch Loop (All Paved)
This scenic drive will have you heading out to the historic Story Inn! For this route, you’ll start in Nashville, perfect for grabbing a coffee or tea before hitting the road. First, take a left at the stoplight at the south end of town onto State Road 46 East. After about three miles and a pass by the awesome Brown County State Park, you’ll make a right onto State Road 135 South. Soak in the fall foliage as you follow this twisty, turvy pathway until you come across a T in the road. You’re officially in Stone Head! Sitting behind the house that is in plain sight, you’ll find a nature preserve with over five miles of hiking trails. If you have time, it might be fun to do some exploring!
At the Stone Head T, take a right to continue on State Road 135 South. Another four miles of colorful curves and you’ll arrive at Story! Founded in 1851, the quaint village has been turned into the Story Inn, Indiana’s oldest country inn. You’ll find overnight lodging, a gourmet restaurant housed in the former general store, a tavern, gardens, and a resident ghost named the “Blue Lady”. Take some time to discover this one-of-a-kind site!
When it’s time to leave, take State Road 135 by the cabins and cottages. Keep your eyes peeled and take a left on Hamilton Creek Road. Along this stretch, you’ll find the Homestead Weaving Studio. Pop in to check out some pretty cool handwoven rugs, clothing, and more! When you come to a T in the road, turn left onto Bellesville Pike, which you’ll take until you reach Stone Head. Take a right to get back on State Road 135 South for just a bit, before making a right onto Valley Branch Road. You’ll pass by eXplore Brown County, an outdoor adventure mecca. Hiking, mountain biking, zip lining, paintball, ATV tours, and more…if you’re up for some outside escapades, plan on making a pit stop!
Valley Branch Road will take you straight back to State Road 46 East. Make a left and you’ll drive through Gnaw Bone. In this little suburb, you’ll find Bear Wallow Distillery, Brown County Winery, Gnawbone Coffee, Gnaw Bone Country Store and Bakery, and the Brown County Antique Mall. Hit them all up as you make your way back to the town of Nashville!
Route 3: Helmsburg/Yellowwood Loop (Paved & Gravel)
After getting your fill of shopping in the Village, take this back-road route for some stunning scenery! Head west on Main Street, which will turn into Helmsburg Road. You’ll be on this road for about 6 miles before you find yourself in tiny downtown Helmsburg. Along the way, pop off on McClary Road to check out the Wood Frog Farm, chock full of homestead arts. You also can make a stop in the studio of Mud Horse Art off Annandale Drive. Right before you get into Helmsburg, you’ll pass two more attractions: Lightspinner Studio and Brown County Iron. Spend some time admiring the work of talented local artists…you may even get to see them in action!
Take a left onto State Road 45 as you arrive in Helmsburg, which you will take through the next little neighborhood of Trevlac. There will be two places to go for a hike in the Trevlac Bluffs Nature Preserve as you truck along…one a little easier to spot than the other, but both great locations to get off the grid and see the leaves!
As you continue to follow State Road 45, there will be two options to head west and out to Lake Lemon. While these aren’t part of this scenic loop per say, it’s a fun offshoot to make if you have the time. One way to get there is by taking a right on West Lower Bear Creek Road to East Northshore Drive (you’ll also pass The Hand Maiden studio on Slippery Elm Shoot Road). The other way to access Lake Lemon is by taking a right on South Shore Drive in Needmore. If you go this way, you’ll pass by the Bohemian Hobbit Studio, cross a big causeway over the lake, and stumble upon the Port Hole Inn—a great spot to get some grub and a cold one!
Whether you choose to skip out on the Lake Lemon offshoot or go on the optional adventure, you’ll take a left on Lanam Ridge Road off State Road 45, before taking a right onto Yellowwood Lake Road. As the name alludes, this gravel path will have you in the heart of the beautiful Yellowwood State Forest! Take in the foliage as you ride along in the valley, Dubois Ridge above you in the background. You may even have to cross a creek bed! Make a left onto Yellowwood Road. Here you’ll pass by the Sleepy Cat Studio (housed in an old grain silo) and the Ferrer Studio, featuring a guest artist from the HeresHome Studio.
Make another left onto State Road 46 West and take it all the way back to Nashville!
Route 4: Belmont/Crooked Creek Loop (Paved & Gravel)
This scenic drive will have you exploring the southwestern side of Brown County! As you soak in the sights and sounds of the bustling Village, continue straight onto State Road 46 West. Follow this road for eight miles, past the West Entrance of the Brown County State Park, up high onto a ridgetop for breathtaking views of the fall leaves and a cute old country barn. After the climb, you’ll gradually descent into the community of Belmont. Take a left onto T.C. Steele Road. In less than five minutes, you’ll find yourself at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site. Spend some time discovering the story of Brown County’s famed painter and one of the original founders of the art colony. Besides checking out the welcome center, you can tour his house and studio, as well as hang out in the sprawling gardens or hit up the hiking trails!
After some time at the historic site, take a right onto Dewar Ridge Road. Get ready for a real back-road adventure as this stretch of gravel will have you deep in the colorful woods. Dewar Ridge will turn into Crooked Creek Road (also gravel). Revel in Brown County’s natural beauty and peaceful quietness before taking a right back onto State Road 46 West. This will take you all the way back to the Village to complete the loop!