Morgan-Monroe State Forest

Among other trails, the Morgan Monroe State Forest offers two 10-mile loop trails through its mature hardwood forests:  The Three Lakes Trail and the Low Gap Trail.  The HHC volunteers help maintain these two trails, and also borrow large portions of them for our run/walk events.  There are also a variety of shorter routes available, some of which are mentioned below.

The Morgan-Monroe State Forest often provides a free map of their property and these two trails at their headquarters.  Here is a scan of that map (provided with permission from MMSF):  Morgan_Monroe_State_Forest_Map

Three Lakes Trail

Fall colors are reflected in Bryant Creek Lake

Fall colors are reflected in Bryant Creek Lake

The Three Lakes Trail is named after the three lakes it formerly passed, one of which has since been drained due to a dam failure on Bean Blossom Lake.  It begins at Cherry Lake, which is very near the forest headquarters (directions to headquarters are below).  It is a 10-mile path which loops around back to the start.  It does have several large, long hills, somewhat tempered by switchbacks.  It also has some long stretches that are relatively flat and scenic, either along a high ridge top or following along a low stream or ravine.  Overnight backcounty camping is not allowed along this trail.

Here are the GPS track coordinates of the Three Lakes Trail, in standard gpx format:  Right-click here and select “Save As”.

If your browser saves the file as xml, add “.gpx” to the end of the filename.

Low Gap Trail

Leaf and moss along the Low Gap Trail.

Leaf and moss along the Low Gap Trail.

The Low Gap Trail is also a 10-mile loop which begins and ends at the Morgan-Monroe State Forest Headquarters (directions below).  As with the Three Lakes Trail, this also has some long, high hills in between some relatively flat stretches.  Portions of this trail can also be used to hike shorter 3-mile loops, such as the Rock Shelter Loop and the Mason Ridge Loop.  Overnight backcountry camping is allowed along the eastern-most portion of the loop.

Here are the GPS track coordinates of the Low Gap Trail, in standard gpx format:  Right-click here and select “Save As”.

If your browser saves the file as xml, add “.gpx” to the end of the filename.

If you would like to make a shorter route, the three-mile Rock Shelter Trail loop is highly recommended.  This short but rugged route walks along high ridges with distant views, and also meanders through very low areas, running beside and through small streams.

Here are the GPS track coordinates of the Rock Shelter Trail, in standard gpx format:  Right-click here and select “Save As”.

Mason Ridge Trail

The Mason Ridge Trail runs north-south along Mason Ridge, which the Main Forest Road also uses to access the forest headquarters.  The trail is about 1.5 miles long, and can be combined with a portion of the Low Gap Trail to make a nice 3.7 mile loop.  Most of this route offers nice views down the valley, with occasional glimpses of the creek that runs below.

Here are the GPS track coordinates of the Mason Ridge Trail and the Low Gap Trail section which make the loop trail.  It is in standard gpx format:  Right-click here and select “Save As”.

If your browser saves the file as xml, add “.gpx” to the end of the filename.

Scout Ridge Nature Preserve Trails

The Scout Ridge Nature Preserve is located very near the forest headquarters (directions below).  It has three trails under a mile each.  One of these, the Tree Identification Trail, begins at the headquarters parking lot.  This 2/3-mile trail is very popular with visitors, providing a wide, gentle path and a great opportunity to learn to identify native trees typical in southern Indiana.  Here is an electronic version of the Morgan_Monroe_Tree_Identification_Trail_Brochure , which is needed to determine the tree species.

 

Directions to Morgan-Monroe State Forest Headquarters

Because the back roads are difficult to navigate and often misrepresented on maps, it is recommended that you approach the forest from SR  37, and turn east on a road called Pine Blvd.  If coming from the north, Pine Blvd. is 5 miles south of Martinsville.  If coming from the south, it is 14 miles north of 3rd Street Exit in Bloomington.  Whether coming from the north or south on SR 37, there is a small brown sign on your right, near the top of a large hill, denoting the Pine Blvd. turn-off to Morgan-Monroe State Forest.

After turning east on Pine Blvd., travel about 6/10ths of a mile, and you will come to a stop sign, and merge into another road (a slight right-forward). After another 2 miles, you’ll come to a 3-way intersection with a big sign in the middle, “Morgan Monroe State Forest”. Veer LEFT at this intersection. As soon as you veer left, keep straight ahead on the main road.  You’ll immediately see yet another road going down to the left, called Hacker’s Creek Road. Do not take that road, but continue straight ahead. This is “Main Forest Road”. You keep traveling on the Main Forest Road for another 4 miles, and the headquarters office will be on your left.  There is free parking adjacent to the office.


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