Indiana can feel insufferably dull sometimes. The small towns, the lack of mountains or beaches, just hundreds of acres of corn and wheat fields. For those seeking adventure in the world, it can feel like a full-on cage — nowhere to go and nowhere to explore.
However, I am a big believer you can find adventure anywhere. You just have to know where to look.
Since moving out to Indiana from Colorado a year and a half ago, I have been dying to find adventure spots that could scratch my itch for nature. Sometimes, the only way to clear my head is by being in nature, and I know I am not alone in that feeling. Although you might not see them at first glance, loads of students at IU are adventurers looking for places to explore. Yet, unless they grew up in the area, most people have no idea where to start.
I have found Indiana has a lot more to offer than many initially see. I gathered a list of places that have stood out to me in the last year. Places that fulfilled my need for nature and brought me some peace of mind.
So, whether you are seeking some much-needed nature time or just trying to explore the Bloomington area a little more, here are three hikes that are no more than a 45-minute drive from campus:
Hickory Ridge is a 40-minute drive from campus and is one of the most beautiful drives you can take around here. Following the same road you take to Lake Monroe, you are surrounded by hundreds of trees and walls of limestone. As you turn off Route 446, the forest engulfs you. The dirt road beneath your tires and the canopy of trees fills your sight. During the fall, this is an exceptionally gorgeous drive.
This site doesn't require a hike but rather a climb.
The fire tower is approximately 25 minutes down the dirt road and stands 110 feet tall. If you can brave the climb up to the top, you are met with a beautiful bird's eye view of the Hoosier National Forest.
This site can be slightly unnerving just because of the climb, but the view is worth it 100 times over.
Only a 30-minute drive away, the state park has so much to offer. From waterfalls to horseback rides, you will never be bored.
The trails are stunning and well-kept, so a stroll around the park is a must. But the real fun is in the horseback riding. My favorite spot in this park is the waterfall. Engulfed in limestone lays a waterfall only a few steps down from the parking lot. You can jump from rock to rock and make your way across the river until you are standing underneath the waterfall. It will be a highlight of the trip — guaranteed.
If you have never been to Nashville, Indiana, you are severely missing out. Brown County State Park is just the cherry on top.
The dozens of trails take you through the 16,000 acres of rustic hills and ravines. With almost 20 miles of road, you won't need to step outside the car to see the beauty of this park. The forest is especially breathtaking during the fall as the leaves turn shades of deep reds and bright oranges. The hikes encompass you in the trees and make you feel at one with the forest.
Indiana isn't actually as boring as it may seem. If you need a hint of adventure in your life, take a day trip over the weekend and explore these sights. It will open your mind to the idea that adventure is everywhere.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a sophomore studying journalism and political science.