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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Top 5 Winter Hikes in Bloomington

Categories: Outdoors

While the warmer months may seem the best for a hiking excursion through Bloomington’s rolling hills and vast forests, there’s a certain magic in the crisp air of a wintertime hike. The soft blanket of snow covering the ground and the sparkle of ice-crusted trees create a unique beauty that's often overshadowed by the brisk temperatures of the season. Proper clothing, a good pair of hiking boots, and a thermos of hot cocoa are, in our book, all you need to experience a great winter hike.

With a variety of short-distance trails and its close proximity to downtown and the Indiana University campus, the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is the perfect place for winter hikers of all levels to dip their boots in the snow. Regardless of which trail — or trails — you choose, each of the following offer whimsical views of a snow-covered forest and lake that are sure to leave you wondering why you didn’t take up wintertime hiking sooner.


Wetlands, Griffy Creek, and Lanam Trails

At the far eastern side of the nature preserve are three trails, each being of the out-and-back variety: the Wetlands Trail (0.2 miles), the Griffy Creek Trail (1.5 miles), and the Lanam Trail (0.6 miles). Each are considered easy due to their mostly flat terrain, and all three trails are connected via the Griffy Creek Trail. The Griffy Creek Trail has a trailhead of its own, but it can also be reached by trekking the short Wetlands Trail. Then, a bit further up the Griffy Creek Trail is the Lanam Trail.

A view of Griffy Lake from a hiking trail during winter

Hike the Griffy Creek Trail if you're looking for a straight-forward adventure, trek the Wetlands Trail to the Griffy Creek Trail to experience both trails, or traverse the Wetlands Trail to the Griffy Creek Trail to the Lanam Trail for a mid-length hike. Keep in mind that the distance you hike in is the distance you hike back — plenty of water, dressing in layers, and good hiking boots are key for a great hiking experience.

All three trails are great for hikers of all ages and abilities, as well as leashed dogs. You'll enjoy views of the lake, creek, and forested valley along the way. 


West and East North Shore Loops

The North Shore Loop is comprised of two separate loops at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve, which can be hiked separately or together depending on the distance you'd like to hike. The West North Shore Loop is one mile long, and the East North Shore Loop is 0.5 miles long. The two loops are connected by a lake-side trail that stretches an additional mile. Both loops and their connecting trail are considered difficult to trek due to their steep slopes, fallen trees, rock outcrops, narrow pathways, and muddiness/iciness during & following inclement weather.

A view of Griffy Lake through the trees on a hiking trail during winter

While the trail is difficult to trek, the views of Griffy Lake during winter are breathtaking through the trees, along the shore, and from the dam. Experienced hikers and those up for a challenge will enjoy the loop(s) — do note that although the East North Shore Loop is shorter, its considered more rugged than any other trail at the nature preserve. Hiking boots are highly recommended, and some may find a walking stick helpful as well.

Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is open from dawn to dusk, seven days per week. Click here for an informative trail map. 

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa Davis

Alyssa is a former Digital Content Coordinator at Visit Bloomington.