Some people will tell you that Indiana is flat and there are no great views to hike to. But with a short drive to Morgan County, you’ll find some of the best ridge and forest views that Indiana has to offer. Morgan-Monroe State Forest offers guests camping, hiking, fishing, hunting, and gold panning on more than 25,000 acres of forested land between Morgan and Monroe Counties. Use your Indiana State Park Pass at this DNR property.
Morgan-Monroe State Forest
Located Just 35 miles south of Indy, Morgan-Monroe State Forest is just outside of Martinsville, Indiana, and offers guests more than 25,000 acres of forested land between Morgan and Monroe Counties. It’s just one of many things to do in Morgan County.
While Native Americans lived on the land for thousands of years, settlers tried to clear the land for agriculture but eventually determined it was too rocky to clear and farm. In 1929, Morgan-Monroe officially became a state forest.
Things to Do at Morgan-Monroe State Forest
We love visiting Morgan-Monroe State Forest for the quiet and secluded beauty of the forest. We take lunch and make a day of it! Morgan-Monroe also offers great sites for fishing, hunting, camping, and more!
Take a Picnic to Morgan-Monroe State Forest
There are many picnic tables and shelters available for use on a first-come, first-served basis. Most picnic areas offer picnic tables and grills. There are larger picnic shelters located at Cherry Lake, Bryant Creek Lake, and The Walls Picnic Shelter that can be reserved for your large group.
Hiking at Morgan-Monroe State Forest
There are a variety of trails available at Morgan-Monroe State Forest for every distance, skill level, age, and interest and most are loops. Bikes, Horses, and ATVs are not allowed on the trails.
If you’re hiking with younger kids, stick to easy hikes like the Tree Identification Trail or the Hike-Bike Trail. The one-mile Tree Identification Trail offers 26 different trees you can name with the help of an identification booklet, available at the Forestry Office. The Hike-Bike trail is a longer loop at 5.2 miles, but it is an ADA-accessible trail and paved the whole way.
As your kids get older, check out the longer and more advanced trails like the Rock Shelter Trail. This three-mile loop follows a rocky creek bed to a large rock shelter along the trail and passes a small pond. The half-mile Scout Ridge Nature Trail takes you through a Nature Preserve with Beech and Maple trees, and glacial boulders.
Lakes and Fishing
While there are three lakes on the property that provide a picture-perfect setting, swimming and wading are not permitted in Morgan-Monroe State Forest. You can go fishing in all three lakes, with a valid fishing license, but boating is only allowed on Bryant Creek Lake and Cherry Lake.
Camping at Morgan-Monroe County
Camping is available at Morgan-Monroe State Forest. For a fee, primitive camping is available at Mason Ridge and Oak Ridge Campground. Each site has a picnic table and grill and both campsites have vault toilets and potable water available seasonally. Morgan-Monroe also has a youth tent campground for Scouts and other youth groups, located in the Scout Ridge Nature Preserve. For the experienced and adventurous camper, backcountry camping is available.
Recreational Gold Prospecting
Panning for gold is not necessarily something you think of when you think of Indiana. However, over millennia, Gold has come down from Canada through glaciers and deposited in Indiana. Panning for Gold is permitted on Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forests. However, the displacement of any material through the use of a pick, shovel, or sluice is not allowed and you are required to have a gold panning permit.
Hunting and Fishing
Hunting and Fishing are allowed in Morgan-Monroe State Forest with a valid hunting or fishing license. There are areas in the state forest that are restricted to hunting and fishing, so hikers are encouraged to wear bright colors during the hunting season.
Photo courtesy of VisitMorganCounty.com