Brown County State Park is the largest state park in Indiana at an impressive almost 16,000 acres. This park is filled with rolling hills, stunning vistas and delightfully peaceful lakes. With so much space, comes an endless list of adventures. On-site activities include 18 miles of hiking trails, fishing, horseback riding, swimming, and 27 miles of mountain biking trails. And if that wasn’t enough, the lovely town of Nashville, IN has the sweetest little downtown area with lots of cute local restaurants and shops just minutes from the park. You will not want to miss it!
Entrance Fee: $7 In State Daily Entrance, $9 Out of State Daily Entrance
Lodging: On site lodging includes the Abe Martin Lodge, family cabins, and three campgrounds depending on what works best for your family. Reservations can be made for the lodge and cabins here- Inn Reservations. Campground reservations can be made here- Camping Reservations. If you prefer not to stay on property there are more lodging options in Nashville, IN.
Dining: The Abe Martin Lodge has one restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Menus and hours can be found here- Little Gem Restaurant. There are also several restaurants close to the park. Some of our favorites include: Big Woods Pizza, Hard Truth Restaurant, The Ferguson House Bistro and Bar, and Casa Del Sol. Several picnic areas and shelters are also located throughout the park.
Must Know Before You Go:
1. Behind the main lodge are fire pits that can be lit by lodge staff. Even if you are staying in a hotel room it was a great place to hang out at night and bring all the supplies for smores!
2. If you are staying on property, bring flashlights. The property is very dark at night, especially when walking between cabins.
3. Bring swimsuits! There is an outdoor pool and indoor water park that are so much fun!
Cell Service: Not reliable. We bring walkie talkies if traveling with a large group because it is difficult to get service even at the lodge.
2 Day Itinerary
Nature Center- This is the first place I would stop on your trip. Our kiddos loved learning about the area and animals that live there. They loved seeing real snakes and turtles and could have sat in the bird watching room all day😊 You can also keep your car right where it’s at because the next two trails are right off the Nature Center. It is also a great place for a quick bathroom break between hikes since both trails will loop back to the Nature Center.
Discovery Trail- This 0.5-mile trail marked moderate is a great follow up to the educational opportunities at the Nature Center. At the beginning of the trail grab a brochure and follow along with the numbers throughout to learn more about the native trees and wildlife present at Brown County State Park. We let the kids be in charge of the brochure and it felt a little more like a scavenger hunt to them!
Trail 6 (Strahl Lake)- This 1.5-mile trail is marked moderate in difficulty. There is elevation changes on the hike down to the lake but once you get there the loop around the lake is quite easy. You could also park right at the lake and just take the easy walk around the lake, but we loved walking through the woods from the Nature Center and it had some really wonderful views. The terrain around the lake is part boardwalk, part dirt/mud, and part paved so I would not say it is stroller accessible but easily walkable for anyone who is able.
Friends Trail- This 0.25-mile stroller accessible trail is an easy walk through a beautiful forest with a lovely view at the Friends Trail Vista! Perfect for any hiker😊
Trail 2- This 2-mile, moderate trail loop starts and ends right behind the lodge, so it is the perfect trail to start your day, especially if you are staying on-site. This trail takes you through the woods along a creek, over 8 bridges and right past the North Lookout Tower. There is a large number of steps on the hike.
Trail 7(Ogle Lake)/Trail 4/ Trail 5(Ogle Hollow Nature Preserve) loop– Park at Ogle Lake and start on the north side of the lake on Trail 7. Take that to the other side of the lake where you will continue straight to jump on Trail 4. Take Trail 4 until it dead ends and turn right onto Trail 5 and then head up the stairs to the top of the mountain. Once you are at the top you will cross over to the second part of Trail 4 and take that back down to the lake and the other part of Trail 7 to get you back to your car. This 3.5 mile loop is marked easy to rugged (lots of changes in elevation on Trail 5) and is easily our favorite trail loop at Brown County. The lake itself is beautiful and has a little bit of everything- logs to climb and hop over, mud to get dirty in, shallow streams to skip rocks in and LOTS of wildlife. The last time we were there we saw probably 20 turtles, hundreds of very noisy frogs, and too many birds to count! There is a parking lot, playground, and restrooms right in front of the lake. This is a great place to have lunch with many picnic tables spread throughout the entire north side of the lake. I will say this trail can be VERY muddy on the south side of the trail so hiking boots or rain boots would work best😊
Another fun thing to do either day is the 7 Vista Challenge- West Lookout Tower Vista, Hesitation Point Vista, Friends Trail Vista, Weed Patch Hill Vista, Nature Center Vista, CCC Vista, and Hohen Point Vista. They all have beautiful views (especially in the fall) and our oldest loves checklists so that was something he could be in charge of😊
Hope you have a wonderful adventure!