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Get Out of Town, | May 02, 2017

Waterside walks

Three little-known trails run alongside these lakes, rivers and streams.

A man fishes at intersection of the Ohio River and the Blue River at the Ohio River Bluff Trail. Courtesy of Steve Higgs.

The hills of Southern Indiana are home to hiking trails, rivers, streams and lakes, and when combined, it’s worth the drive to see.

Steve Higgs leads ecotours through Natural Bloomington and is an avid Southern Indiana photographer and author. He recommended these waterside wonders, and I set out to experience them. Whether you’re looking to trek alongside a winding creek or gaze upon a glimmering lake, these three trails will take your breath away.

Crooked Creek Trail

Yellowwood State Forest in Brown County

About 30 minutes southeast of Bloomington

Coordinates: 39.0939381, -86.3274905

Length: About 2 miles

Level of difficulty: Beginner

Features: Marshy land and openings where you can set up a tripod and camera.

Higgs’ tip: “Crooked Creek actually follows an old road bed. You can walk through the water in some places. It’s a great place for birds, and you’re going to see a lot of them.”

Finding the trailhead: You’ll see a large parking lot where boats are usually parked. Follow the small winding road that leads out of it. Take that road down to a smaller parking lot, and the old roadbed will begin there.

Special note: Crooked Creek tends to flood during the winter.

Springs Valley Trail

Hoosier National Forest near Paoli

About 15 minutes southwest of Paoli

Coordinates: 38.488389, -86.560000

Length: 12.7 miles

Level of difficulty: Moderate (parts of the trail are suitable for the beginner)

Features: A small cave just around the bend of Springs Valley Lake.

Higgs’ tip: “Springs Valley is very remote. Way, way out. There’s one place in the trail where you can see where the ground was pounded by buffalo… It’s part of the Buffalo Trace.”

Finding the trailhead: The coordinates will bring you to a small campsite with parking. The trailhead starts on the left of the site along the lake.

Ohio River Bluff Trail

About 15 minutes west of Corydon

O’Bannon Woods State Park near Corydon

Exact coordinates: 38.200795, -86.255144

Length: 1.5 miles

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Features: A view of the Ohio River along the entire trail and a nice picnic area at the trailhead overlooking the river. The trail ends at the Blue River.

Higgs’ tip: “My granddaughter and I always hike this one together. I always say that where the trail ends at the Ohio and Blue is ‘where Indiana’s most mighty river meets its most beautiful.’”

Finding the trailhead: Once you enter the park, take that road all the way to the Ohio River. The trail is on the far side of the parking lot at the end of the road.

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