Deep Woods Tour

This 5-hour expedition ventures deep into the region’s upland forests. Destinations include:

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The Back Country Area of Morgan-Monroe State Forest, located about 15 miles northeast of Bloomington, is among the most remote and rugged forestlands in the state of Indiana. The state established the back country in 1981 to "offer an experience of visiting a forested area looking much the same as it may have appeared a century and a half ago."

The Back Country is part of the 24,000-acre Morgan-Monroe, which is owned and managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Forestry. The forest is characterized by steep, forested ridges and valleys that, in the early 20th century, had been logged and abandoned by the original settlers, who found its rocky soil unsuitable for agriculture after the trees were gone.

Like all state forests, Morgan-Monroe is managed for “multiple use,” meaning the forest must provide for a variety of public uses, from resource extraction – primarily logging – to “amenities” for the public good, including hiking, birdwatching, fishing and camping. In addition, Morgan-Monroe has an historic rental cabin, three lakes and picnicking.

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The 23,200-acre Yellowwood State Forest adjoins Morgan-Monroe shares its history and natural characteristics. Together, the two form one of the largest blocks of forest in the state.

In addition to the steep, wooded ridges and ravines, Yellowwood includes three pristine lakes, hiking trails, picnic tables, a playground, horse trails, wildlife and camping. The 20-mile Ten O’Clock Line Hiking Trail runs between Yellowwood Lake and Brown County State Park.

Among the animal species that thrive in Yellowwood’s forested acres are Whitetail Deer, Ruffed Grouse, squirrel, turkey and fox. Birds include the Great Horned Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Barred Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owls, Wood Thrushes, all of the Indiana thrushes and many species of warblers.

The largest of the three lakes is the 133-acre, 30-foot deep Yellowwood Lake. Noted for its excellent fishing, the lake offers rowboat rentals, a ramp for boats (electric motors only), picnic areas and camping. Bear Lake and Crooked Creek Lake are also popular recreation and fishing areas in Yellowwood.

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At 202,000 acres, the Hoosier National Forest is Indiana’s largest public land mass, stretching from Lake Monroe to the Ohio River. Managed by the U.S. Forest Service, the Hoosier, like state forests, is managed for multiple uses, from logging to backpacking.

Hoosier National or Hoosier, as the forest is more commonly called, features a wide mix of natural and man-made features, including high-quality, resilient and rare ecosystems; rolling-to-rugged hills and valleys; seasonal creeks and streams; back-country trails; and rural, crossroad communities.

The 13,000-acre Charles Deam Wilderness Area is the only federally protected wilderness in Indiana that is permanently off limits to logging and other extractive uses, such as oil and gas production.

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