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8 Free Indiana Hikes for Your Next Adventure

Find your next adventure on an Indiana trail this spring!

Discover natural areas stewarded by land trusts and conservation partners across the state. We’ve put together a list of our members’ favorite Indiana hikes to take in spring sights, sounds, and smells. Before you visit, please visit the organization’s website and social media pages for hours and policies.

#1 – Stout Memorial Woodland

Protected by Red-Tail Land Conservancy

Stout Memorial Woodland in Henry County is certainly deserving of its status as a state dedicated nature preserve.  This is one of the finest upland hardwood stands in east central Indiana. Giant old growth trees including tulip poplar, oak, walnut, maple, and beech stand strong. These anchors of the landscape look down on spring wildflowers like bloodroot, trout lily, and dutchman’s breeches in April and May. Bluebirds take residence in the holes left in the grand trees by woodpeckers and other animals. Beautiful in all seasons, this preserve is a great place to bring the family for your next outdoor adventure.

#2 – Guard Archaeological Preserve

Protected by Archaeological Research Institute

The Guard Village site is in Dearborn County, Indiana. Occupied sometime between AD 1000-1250 by the first maize agriculturalists in the Ohio Valley, the village was home to 150-500 people. They tended their crops and gardens, fished in the rivers and wetlands, and hunted in the surrounding hills. Visitors can explore the site and the River of Time Trails to learn about the history, archaeology, and land that held a village 1000 years ago! Start your adventure in time at Base Camp located at 424 Walnut Street, Lawrenceburg, Indiana, 47025. Visit between May and October and you will see a variety of native plants, Three sisters and experimental gardens, a Memorial Butterfly Garden, and native birds.

#3 – Big Walnut Nature Preserve, Tall Timbers Trail

Protected by The Nature Conservancy

This Indiana hiking destination is situated among the rolling hills and steep ravines of Big Walnut Creek Valley. With glacial relic stands of hemlock, this area was designated as a national natural landmark in 1968. Visitors will see the largest known hemlock trees in the state scattered among a rare beech, sugar maple, tulip poplar climax forest in Putnam County.

Spring brings a carpet of wildflowers including spring beauties, shooting stars, Virginia bluebells, and large-flowered trilliums, and the emergence of cerulean, worm-eating and hooded warblers and great blue herons. The average wildflower peak is around April 25, but you can’t find a bad time to visit this preserve. Prepare for stream crossings and climbs in a steep ravine.

#4 – Burnett Woods Nature Preserve

Protected by Central Indiana Land Trust

Burnett Woods Nature Preserve offers a tranquil hike through mature woodlands near Avon. Fall colors and spring wildflowers make this a seasonal destination, but its canopy is cooling even on the hottest days of summer.

Hikers find tall black walnut, beech, oak, hickory, sugar maple, and tulip poplar trees growing here, as well as diverse understory shrubs from pawpaw to spicebush. Each April many stunning wildflowers bloom on the forest floor, including wild geranium, woodland phlox, prairie trillium, and toad-shade trillium. Slow-moving streams flow westward through the property.

With two marked loop trails over level ground, this state dedicated nature preserve is a great place to hike with all ages.

 #5 – Eagle Marsh, Trail 8 and Accessible Floating Trail

Protected by Little Rivers Wetlands Project

Photo by Brian Wood
Eagle Marsh is a 831-acre wetland nature preserve located on the southwest border of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Fourteen+ miles of trails allow hikers to access the preserve’s varied habitats of shallow-water wetland, sedge meadow, prairie, mature forest and young trees. With adjacent Fox Island County Park and other privately owned natural land in Allen County, Eagle Marsh creates almost two square miles of habitat for birds and other wildlife. A spring hike brings opportunities to see or hear frogs, blue heron, ducks, and macroinvertebrates. 

#6 – Orangeville Rise Nature Preserve

Protected by Indiana Karst Conservancy

Photo by Carla Striegel-Winner
This Indiana hike is actually a drive! Visit one of Indiana’s largest springs in Orange County. This is a dedicated national natural landmark and state dedicated nature preserve. Visitors will enjoy unique geology and a beautiful water feature that is part of the Lost River system. Indiana Karst Conservancy manages the wooded preserve, protecting many native plants and a diversity of birds and wildlife. The Lost River Karst Area looks different every week. It may be in flood stage, with brown water gushing along the stream bed, or it may be deep blue and slow-flowing. If you do feel like hiking, combine the scenic viewing area with a hike at nearby Hoosier National Forest-owned Wesley Chapel Gulf.

#7 – Webster Woods

Protected by Oak Heritage Conservancy

While hiking at Webster Woods Preserve in Jefferson County, you might be lucky enough to see several of Indiana’s 40 native species of orchids along the trail including Showy Orchid. In this forest, wind is the natural disturbance regime. When soils are saturated during winter and spring rains, heavy winds will cause trees to topple. The craters left as a result of roots being pulled from the ground are a perfect place for young frogs and salamanders to grow up. This easy one mile walk wanders among tulip poplar standing tall over patches of mayapple and Christmas fern, Lady Rattlesnake Fern, and interpretive signs to help visitors learn as they hike.

 #8 – Dune Loop Trail, LC Nature Park

Protected by LC Nature Park

Located in the historic Little River Valley in Allen County, LC Nature Park was once the reserve of Chief Akima Neewilenkwanka of the Myaamia (Miami) Nation. This unique park honors the past while also protecting the natural features for generations to come. Visit in late April and early May to see glorious displays of White-flowered Trillium as you explore the shady forest. View bison and elk that graze nearby in the restored tallgrass prairie. All visits are scheduled and guided for your safety and the wellbeing of the bison and elk that live here.