by SOPHIE BIRD
As Indiana’s colorful autumn season progresses, going on a drive or hike to see the changing leaves can be a great outdoor, socially distanced activity.
Between southern Indiana’s state parks and Indiana University-Bloomington’s campus—widely regarded as one of the most beautiful campuses in the country by publications like Condé Nast Traveler, USA Today, and Best Colleges—the Bloomington area sports some colorful views.
In order to help you make the most of the coming weeks, Bloom has compiled this list of some of our favorite leaf-spotting locations. If you have a favorite place you’d like to see included, leave a comment and we’ll be sure to add it.
Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve
Home to many native Indiana tree species and at least 15 endangered plant and animal species, the Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve sports a two-and-a-half-mile trail that spans both forest and wetland.
The preserve, which is managed by the Sycamore Land Trust, is also a popular spot for bird watching.
Brown County State Park
The fall foliage at Brown County State Park is so highly regarded that the park has its own live Leaf Cam, which streams views of Brown County’s changing leaves throughout the season.
For those interested in visiting the leaves in person, park officials recommend the second or third week in October for peak autumn colors.
Nearby, Yellowwood State Forest offers plentiful views and hiking trails with more than 23,000 acres of trees.
The Griffy Lake Nature Preserve has 1,200 acres of fall foliage to explore. Four hiking trails wind through the forests surrounding the lake, offering views both high and low of the water and surrounding trees.
On Saturday, October 3, the Fall Foliage Float at the Griffy Lake Boathouse will invite participants to take kayaks and canoes out on the water to look at the leaves from a new perspective. Binoculars will be provided, and participants will be guided around the lake by a Boathouse staff member.
Hoosier National Forest
The Hoosier National Forest is home to 204,000 acres of forest, open land, and lake. There are more than 260 miles of trails stretching across multiple counties.
The forest also houses the Charles C. Deam Wilderness, a 12,472-acre swathe of land that includes the 133-step Hickory Ridge Fire Tower. A highly regarded attraction for foliage fanatics, the fire tower provides 360 degree views of the surrounding trees.
Scenic driving is a popular seasonal activity through the Hoosier National Forest. Maps are available for download here.
Indiana University Campus
From the Sample Gates to Showalter Fountain, Indiana University sports every fall color and then some. There are more than 12,000 trees on the IU campus, many of them colorful sugar maples and many of them Indiana natives.
Take a stroll through Dunn’s Woods to see some examples of IU’s tree diversity and sit for a spell at Rose Well House, located near several endangered ginkgo trees, which turn bright yellow in the fall.
McCormick’s Creek State Park
Take a trip to Owen County for a glimpse of the changing leaves over McCormick’s Creek State Park’s scenic waterfalls. Hiking trails cover more than 10 miles and pass by some of the park’s unique sightseeing opportunities, like Wolf Cave and Twin Bridges.
In 2019, the McCormick’s Creek fire tower reopened to visitors after 30 years. If you don’t mind the 105 steps to the top, take a look at the leaves from 88-feet up.
Throughout the years, Bloom has run more than a few photos of southern Indiana’s impressive fall foliage. Check out this photo gallery for a preview of what’s to come: