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Brown County: The Little Smokies of the Midwest


Rolling hills. Vibrant foliage. Ravines reminiscent of Middle Earth. These features are a stark contrast to the flat corn fields typically associated with Indiana. But why is there such a difference? Where are these majestic mountain-like landscapes hiding? Brown County State Park!

According to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Brown County contains 16,000 acres of forest-covered hills and ravines. While the locals know it as the go-to spot for watching the leaves change colors in the fall, for the avid outdoor adventurer, this state park makes the perfect weekend getaway!

Trail Rides

Have you ever wanted to ride through the trees, wind in your face and a horse saddled beneath you? At the Saddle Barn in Brown County State Park, you can sign up for a guided horse ride through the beautiful foliage. Even if you’ve never ridden a horse before, you can have an amazing experience!

If you have your own horse, come stay at Brown County’s very own Horsemen’s Campground. This campground is specially designed for you and your equine friend. Each camping area has posts to tie your horse to during the night. During the day, you can explore over 70 miles of riding trails. Some trails are easy, perfect for a lazy day ride and for basking in the Midwestern summer sun. On other trails, you can gallop up steep ravines, wildly twisting around trees and struggling to stay in the saddle.

A combination of trails will lead you to Story, Indiana, and the Story Inn. According to Laura Elliott, a frequent horse camper, “Hitching posts and water troughs await horses. Once the horses are taken care of and cinch straps are loosened, riders can go order delicious food and enjoy a good meal.” There are many more adventures like these awaiting riders on the trail!


Hiking Trails

Brown County also hosts some of the most scenic hiking trails in the state. Trails range in level of difficulty from scaling almost vertical hills to lazily strolling along a path of fragrant flowers and beautiful butterflies. Trail 5, a popular spot for many hikers, hosts the most Yellowwood trees (an endangered species) in Indiana. The nature trails are short and sweet with tall trees and gorgeous underbrush filled with hidden treasures such as patches of wildflowers, colonies of mushrooms, and fuzzy caterpillars under each leaf. Along the path, there are many benches where you can sit down, rest, and enjoy the beauty of the forest.

Abe Martin Lodge

There are also great options for those who love nature, but who don’t love being in it. Abe Martin Lodge hosts several cabins, an indoor waterpark, and access to several trails. It’s the perfect place to host family reunions, weddings, and other activities. The lodge is very close to the small town of Nashville, where you can visit shops and local art galleries. There’s fun for all the family!

Next time you’re looking for a weekend getaway, whether for you or for the whole family, come to Brown County State Park!


Sarah Elliott