Fortune Woods features a long-stemmed lollipop trail of nearly two miles that allows access to Big Walnut Creek and very large trees. A late 1960s Army Corps of Engineers proposal to build a reservoir in the area came to naught. About the same time, the area received a National Natural Landmark designation.
A mowed path leads south from the parking lot. The trail gradually moves into the woods, at one point looking out over the creek far below. The forest soon takes on an older aspect – beech, maple, and oak tower overhead – and the understory, though well-stocked with Virginia creeper and stinging nettle, opens up. Continue straight at the fork, following the ridge line down. Expect abundant wildflowers in spring; in summer, listen for the chick-burr of scarlet tanagers overhead.
The trail continues descending, now along the flank of the ridge through a rich understory of ferns and wildflowers. At the bottom, a short spur leads to the creek bank; riffles and overhanging trees contribute to a peaceful and scenic setting. After retracing your steps to rejoin the main loop, three crossings of smaller streams follow in quick succession – wet feet are a distinct possibility – before a pair of staircases rise part way out of the valley. A first-rate destination.
Directions: Putnam County. From the stoplight in Bainbridge, north 1.0 miles on Washington/200E; right 0.5 miles on 800N to 250E; left 1.5 miles to 950N; right 1.4 miles to a parking area on the right.
GPS: N 39 47.803 W 86 46.634