One of my favorite aspects of living in south-central Indiana is the amazing access we have to great outdoor recreation spaces. Whether it’s kayaking at Lake Monroe, hiking in Brown County or camping at McCormick’s Creek, we are lucky to live a short drive away from so many beautiful spots. And, the preserves that the Sycamore Land Trust maintains are among some of my favorite places to escape to. We’ve hiked several of their trails, so we were excited to check out one of the newest preserves, Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve, on our day off Monday. The trail is off E. Rush Ridge Road, which you hit before crossing the lake if you’re coming from downtown Bloomington.
I especially love trails that end near the water, so I knew I was going to be a fan of this one. The journey to the lake and back is just over two miles — and it was a decent workout! James and I both woke up the next day with sore legs, thanks to a few hills you’ll face going out and back.
Because we’ve had a decent amount of rain lately, the beginning of the trail was quite muddy. Luckily, another hiker told us it would only be that way for a few hundred yards before we came to a wider, more stable path. My philosophy with hiking is if you come out clean, you’re doing it wrong! It only took us a few minutes to walk through the muddy portion before we got to the main path.
I was so impressed by the walk down to the lake — I can’t imagine what it will look like when colors are really popping during the rest of the year. You make your way down the middle of the tree-lined peninsula, meaning you’re surrounded by water for much of the time. I always feel more calm and peaceful when I’m near the water, so I loved being able to take in different views of the lake during our trek.
After about a mile the trail spills out to the shores of Lake Monroe. It was overcast and foggy while we were on the peninsula, but the lake was still so beautiful. We saw families there walking dogs and a couple of people skipping rocks. I have a feeling this will be an extremely popular trail during the spring, summer and fall. The scenery is breathtaking.
We spent some time taking in different views of the lake before making the return hike back to our car. We grabbed a couple of walking sticks to help prevent ourselves from slipping in the mud toward the end of our hike, which I would recommend if you’re visiting on a wet day.
I can’t wait to get back out to this trail for another hike. And, I have several more preserves to check off my list!
What are your favorite hiking spots? Tell me in the comments!