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We want to take you behind the scenes, to give you insider information you won't find anywhere else. This is where we pull Bloomington's hip happenings together with recommendations from our team, first-hand accounts from project producers, and guest blogs by local gurus.  The Backstage Blog helps you stay in front of it all.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Bloomington's Five Most Unique Hikes

Categories: Outdoors, Family Fun

Southern Indiana is full of hidden gems that make our landscape so interesting. Whether you're looking to explore hidden waterfalls or romp around a wetland preserve, we have hikes full of out-of-the-ordinary sights and experiences to give you a memorable journey into the outdoors.

Leonard Springs Nature Park

Leonard Springs

Beautifully rugged, Leonard Springs was acquired by Bloomington in the early 1900s as a source of water for the area. When water started coming from other sources in Bloomington, the artificial lake on Leonard Springs' 95.5-acre property was dried, but there's still plenty to see in this area! Leonard Springs Trail, a rugged, 1.1-mile trek, will take you past Leonard and Shirley Springs, a wetland, two caves, and a variety of animal and plant life for observation!

Morgan-Monroe State Forest


The beauty and remoteness found in the midst of this state forest will make you feel like you've stepped back in time. Featuring two 10 mile trails full of hills for the more seasoned hikers, three beautiful lakes to fish in, trails outfitted with environmental education information, and gold panning opportunities, Morgan-Monroe is one you won't want to miss if you're looking for some solitude among Earth's beauty. Remember to bring your Indiana fishing permit to fish, and grab a gold panning permit for free at the Forest Office!

Beanblossom Bottoms Nature Preserve

Beanblossom Bottoms

Designated an Indiana State Nature Preserve by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources and an Important Bird Area by the National Audobon Society, Beanblossom Bottoms is a great place to do some bird watching or explore the beautifully preserved wetland. A boardwalk and observation area allow hikers to get a unique view of the wetlands and provide a way to see the preserve’s abundant endangered plant species from above.

Lower Cascades Park
Lower Cascades Winter

Cascades is Bloomington’s largest park, so it’s only fitting that it has some impressive natural features. Lower Cascades has a beautiful little waterfall that's fun to splash around in on a hot summer day or to marvel at when it freezes in the winter. To find this waterfall, simply walk across the street from the playground, and past the picnic area.

Insider Tip: Make sure to check the Cascades Park website for information on special events, like naturalist-guided hikes to the waterfall and tee-ball lessons for the little ones.

Charles C. Deam Wilderness

Deam Wilderness

The Deam Wilderness is a beautiful section of the Hoosier National Forest full of trails for hiking and horseback riding (37.3 miles of trails, to be exact!). The Deam Wilderness is great for anyone searching for a backcountry camping experience that isn't too far away from the comforts of the modern world. For a morning you’ll never forget, climb the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower before sunrise to watch the world light up from above the canopy. It’s worth getting up that early, trust me.

Gillian Fulford

Gillian Fulford

Gillian Fulford is a southern Indiana native and Visit Bloomington’s marketing and media intern. Gillian loves Bloomington for its diverse community, outdoor opportunities, and the wealth of possibilities in everyone’s not-so-small small town. On any given day, you can find her hiking around Lake Griffy, dog spotting, or searching for her new favorite coffee shop.