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, and a good pair of hiking boots is all you need to experience a great winter hike.

Whether you are looking for a short jaunt to stretch your legs, with its variety of short-distance trails and its close proximity to downtown and the Indiana University campus, the Griffy Lake Nature Preserve may be the place, or try a little further away at Monroe Lake to find the perfect trail. Near or far, Bloomington has winter hikes for all skill levels.


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


Homestead Loop Trail - Monroe Lake – Fairfax State Recreation Area (west side of lake)

A newer trail, the Homestead Trail is a 1.8 mile trail (loop) that winds through both forest and old fields and offers unique views of Monroe Lake.

Turkey Trot Trail - Monroe Lake – Allens Creek State Recreation Area (east side of lake)

Turkey Trot Trail is a 1.75 mile trail (out-and-back) offering a splendid view of the lake on both sides after the leaves fall. The trail is an old gravel road and there are several spurs to explore to extend your hike.


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

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

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.