Yellowwood State Forest

Yellowwood State Forest occupies more than 23,000 acres and takes its name from the yellowwood tree, a species found in only a few Indiana locations. Most of the forest’s infrastructure (headquarters, camping, boat ramps) are on the east side of 133-acre Yellowwood Lake.

Jackson Creek Trail (1.3 relatively flat miles) is the most popular in the forest. It’s a lollipop that begins near the northern end of the lake, where the shallow water is full of emergent vegetation. It heads north, then turns west to cross a footbridge over Jackson Creek and into a mature pinery before exploring the creek valley. You’ll cross the creek again before returning.

Yellowwood Lake at Yellowwood State Forest

The Lake Trail (4.5 miles) follows jagged blazes and circles Yellowwood Lake, sharing parts of its tread with other trails and the main forest road. The eastern part has too much development for my taste; the western portion offers more solitude and better views as it works its way through and around small ravines bordering the lake.

Ravine at Yellowwood State Forest

The Scarce o’ Fat Trail (4.7 miles) begins near the western end of the dam; white diamonds blaze the loop. It starts out flat but soon begins a sustained climb to a ridge forested with oak and beech; deep ravines appear occasionally on the left, and a road occupies the ridge line to the right. The trail takes a pair of hard left turns as it first joins, then soon leaves, a forest road. From there, it follows a stretch of the Tecumseh Trail into an intermittent stream valley. The climb out of that valley leads to the top of High King Hill. Trees largely obscure the vistas; winter offers better views. From there it’s a short but steep descent to trail’s end.

Yellowwood State Forest Trail Sketch

Directions: Brown County. From IN 46 X IN 446 east of Bloomington, go E 9.5 miles on IN 46, then left 1.2 miles on Yellowwood Road. Left at the “T”, then 0.9 miles to another intersection. Go straight 0.5 miles to the Scarce o’ Fat trailhead, or right 1.5 miles to the Jackson Creek and Lake Trail trailheads.

GPS: N 39 10.975 W 86 20.333 (HQ)

Facilities: Camping, water, shelter house

Google Maps

Yellowwood State Forest Finder Sketch