The Laura Hare Nature Preserve at Downey Hill is a beautiful nature preserve overseen by the Sycamore Land Trust. It is located off Valley Branch Road, a beautiful forest lined road near Gnaw Bone, Indiana.
For the 52nd hike of my 2017 – 52 Hike Challenge I wanted to do something special. Shawn and I hiked the South Loop and Old Road Trails (there is also a North Loop Trail that we will go back and hike another time). I chose this trail because back in July, Shawn and I spent a Saturday morning volunteering with the Hoosier Hiker Council (HHC) building the South Loop. I maybe built 10 feet of the roughly 2.5 mile trail, but you better believe that I was stoked to hike those 10 feet!
The South Loop Trail is so pretty. The HHC did a great job building and marking the trail. It has a nice mix of walking along ridge lines and gradual descents into valleys for creek crossings (most of which were dry in December).
I think late fall / winter is probably my favorite time to hike in Indiana. 1) There’s fewer spiders to contend with – read about that fear here – and 2) the ridge lines offer great views that you would not see normally due to the wall of green leaves and plants.
A little over a mile into the South Loop Trail you cross a private driveway. If you want a shorter hike turn left to walk along the road; you will return to the parking lot where your car is parked. Continuing straight across the driveway and back into the woods, you will continue your journey on the South Loop Trail. *Please do not turn right – you will be trespassing on private property.*
Continuing on the South Loop Trail there are some more creeks to be crossed and ridges to climb.
The trail passes by an old well and couple sinkholes.
There is also a pretty little pond.
The preserve looked completely different with it being winter, so I was worried I’d hike right through the section Shawn, the other volunteers, and I had built that Saturday morning in July, but I knew it instantly. It was such a unique feeling, walking along something I had helped build. I will definitely be volunteering to build trails in the future. It’s such a great way to give back to something I love.
Not long after, the trail Y’s. The left branch being the Old Road Trail and the right (straight) branch being the North Loop Trail. Shawn and I took the Old Road Trail. It is the most direct path back to the parking lot.
According to the All Trails App tracker, the South Loop Trail combined with the Old Road Trail equal 3.8 miles. I highly recommend hiking at the Laura Hare Nature Preserve if you are in the area. It has the beauty of Brown County State Park without all the people.
Christmas Eve Day (2017), Lizzie and I hiked the North Loop and Old Road Trail. Combined it is 2.9 miles in length, has less elevation change, and is easier than the South Loop.
The North Loop is very pretty and wanders past a pond and an old well.
As part of my evil plot, I let Lizzie hike in front so she could get covered in spider webs instead of me. She caught on rather quickly.
You would think with the amount of dirt it pulled up in falling, that this tree wouldn’t have fallen down.
At the pond, there is a trail that branches off leading back to the parking lot.
The part of the trail that leads down to this creek is about all the elevation change that the North Loop has.
I don’t recommend looking down into this old well. It was gross looking.
Next time I hike at the preserve I’d like to do the South Loop to the North Loop. That way I could get some exercise (South Loop) and then just enjoy the scenery (North Loop).