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8 Free Hikes for Your Next Indiana Adventure

Find your next adventure on a trail this spring! Discover Indiana’s distinctive appeal, stewarded by land trusts and conservation partners across the State. We’ve put together a list of our members’ favorite 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, Indiana, is one of the finest upland hardwood stands in east central Indiana, earning its status as a state dedicated nature preserve. Giant old growth trees including tulip poplar, oak, walnut, maple, and beech stand strong, looking 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. You 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

Situated among the rolling hills and steep ravines of Big Walnut Creek Valley in Putnam County, this area was designated as a national natural landmark in 1968. Visitors will see the largest known hemlock trees in Indiana scattered among a rare beech, sugar maple, tulip poplar climax forest in west-central Indiana.

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 in the midst of a largely developed area near Avon. Fall colors and spring wildflowers make this a seasonal destination spot, but its canopy is cooling even on the hottest days of summer.

You’ll 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 property to hike with young children.

 #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 visit brings opportunities to see or hear frogs, blue heron, ducks, and macroinvertebrates. Check out their events like a Dip in the Wetlands on April 30!

#6 – Orangeville Rise Nature Preserve

Protected by Indiana Karst Conservancy

Photo by Carla Striegel-Winner
This spring hike is actually a drive! Visit one of Indiana’s largest springs in Orange County, a dedicated national natural landmark and state-dedicated nature preserve to enjoy unique geology and a beautiful water feature which 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 may be in flood stage with brown water gushing along the stream bed or it may be a deep blue and slow-flowing. If you do feel like a walk, combine the Orangeville Rise roadside pull off with a hike at nearby Hoosier National Forest-owned Wesley Chapel Gulf.

#7 – Webster Woods

Protected by Oak Heritage Conservancy

While visiting 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 when the roots are 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 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, and view bison and elk that graze nearby in the restored tallgrass prairie. All programs and visits are scheduled and guided for your safety and the wellbeing of the bison and elk that live on the preserve.