Spring has arrived! It's time to enjoy the outdoors by discovering some wild places and open spaces to explore enjoy the fresh air and sunshine after a long winter. We've already highlighted paved trails for those days that are a bit too wet and muddy for natural trails or those who need stroller or wheelchair friendly options.
Those aren't the only options available for outdoor fun, though. Morgan County has literally thousands of acres of public forest lands and wide open spaces to enjoy, and we've compiled some of our favorites.
Gravel surface trails that traverse prairies, wetlands and forest, combined with a paved loop trail around native prairie grasses, a new terrain grass surface loop trail and creek access make this park a favorite for all ages. Keep an eye out for those wild things here - we've personally had wildlife encounters at Burkhart Creek! Raptor perches, owl houses and bat houses mean you may glimpse a bird of prey on the hunt or a furry friend taking wing at dusk or returning home in early morning. Songbirds are plentiful at this park as well, and we've seen white tail deer and even a slithery snake on occasion! (We definetly recommend social distancing from those guys.) Located on Duckworth Road near Paragon. The newest trail extension and new restroom facilities at this park make it a must-visit if it's been awhile since your last visit or if you've never been!
Everyone knows about the playground and the sledding hill at Martinsville's Jimmy Nash Park, but you may not know about the fantastic trail that circles the park! Start by the pond and the two mile loop trail will take you up and around park hill, bringing you out in the perfect location to catch that iconic view over town. Trust us - this trail will make you completely forget you're actually in town! The quarter mile paved loop trail at the park is also a good place to enjoy a walk with a stroller and the interior of the circle is open space, so the kids can run a bit as you keep a watchful eye.
Nash Hiking Trail
Perhaps the best known wild place in Morgan County, we share this 24,000 acre forest with our neighbors in Monroe County, and it also connects to Brown County's Yellowwood State Forest via the Tecumseh Trail (we told you it was big!). You know there are fantastic trails here (one of our favorites is the Low Gap Trail), plus picnic shelters and three lakes if you'd like to do some fishing. The relatively new paved trail is a great addition, and there's also a fun Tree ID trail near the forest office where you can learn a bit more about the individual kinds of trees that make up the forest. Watch for interpretive signage along the paved trails as well.
Tree ID Trail Map
Forest Property Map
Hiking Trails Map
It's one of our favorites for the White River Greenway Trail alone, that's not all this park has to offer! Grab some frisbees, a football or soccer ball or a few kites and enjoy the wide open grassy area located north of the trail, historic bank building and traditional arts buildings. There's a crossroads built from stones that marks the historic location of Old Town Waverly's main intersection. Be sure to check out the interpretive signage that explains the history of Waverly, the two mural walls and more to sneak in some educational time. Watch for migratory birds, particularly water birds, song birds and birds of prey (we hear there's an eagle nesting on the opposite side of the river that can sometimes be seen from the trail). You might spot smaller wildlife, or even a white tail deer as well. A newer natural surface trail loop is available as well. *Remember the trail may be flooded in places after heavy rains. If water is over the trail, do not continue.
We love the trails at Pioneer Park in Mooresville, but it's also a great place enjoy the wide open spaces. Cross the covered pedestrian bridge to access more trails and sports fields, which double as a great place to enjoy outdoor fun with kites, frisbees and more! Once the weather warms up a bit, bring the rain boots or water shoes for some creek stompin' fun just on the other side of the covered bridge from the parking lot. This park is a bit more urban than some of the others listed here. If you're not quite ready for truly wild places, this is a great park for you!
This one's a bit of a hidden gem... actually just designated recently as a State Forest, Ravinia was once part of Morgan-Monroe Forest, though it's not geographically connected to the main forest located just off I-69/State Road 37. No, this area is located adjacent to Burkhart Creek Park off Duckworth Road. Once part of a huge historic estate, Ravinia is now natural forest land that's open to the public for truly wild exploration. The 1,500 acre parcel is perfect for orienteering lessons. Bring a compass, as there are no maintained trails at this property, so you're truly out in the wild! There are fire trails that can be utilized by hikers and a nature preserve area located near the parking area on O'Neal Road. This is another great area for spotting forest birds and other wildlife! You'll see new tree seedlings here as well - Ravinia is part of Indiana's ForestIN Program, an effort to plant a million trees by 2025.
Ravinia State Forest Map