Have you tried winter hiking? It requires bundling up, but winter hiking provides several unique opportunities that aren't as readily available when hiking during the other three seasons of the year. We have a number of hiking opportunities in Hendricks County, Indiana, which provide an outlet for exercise, fresh air and a change of scenery from the inside of your house.
During the winter, fewer people are on our trails than in other seasons, providing hikers more solitude, peace and tranquility. The lack of heavy human traffic increases winter hikers' chances of seeing wildlife and birds, plus finding tracks is a lot easier in the snow. Without leaves on the trees, Mother Nature looks different in the winter, so you'll also see new things along your favorite trails.
Let's take a look at some of the winter hiking options in Hendricks County.
About 6 miles of paved trail runs through Brownsburg along the former B&O Railroad corridor in the form of the B&O Trail. One of the two major rail trails in Hendricks County, the B&O Trail runs in a northwest direction from Raceway Road (the Hendricks-Marion County line) through Brownsburg to County Road 500 East.
A tunnel allows hikers safe passage underneath Ronald Reagan Parkway and provides shelter from any precipitation, plus a colorful assortment of murals painted throughout. A little bit west of the Green Street trailhead is a bridge that spans White Lick Creek with observation points that provide a nice view of the creek and surrounding area.
For more information about the B&O Trail, click here.
Blanton Woods Nature Park
Right in the heart of Danville lies 53 acres of wooded bliss called Blanton Woods Nature Park. Within it, more than 5 miles of trails wind through the woods, following White Lick Creek and several additional small streams on the property.
A small shelter with a few picnic tables provide a nice spot to rest, but they are the only man-made amenities within the park. Blanton Woods is a bit of a hidden gem, so the serenity of a winter hike is likely to provide more than one view of wildlife and birds.
To learn more about Blanton Woods, click here.
McCloud Nature Park
I work for Hendricks County Parks & Recreation, and we operate McCloud Nature Park right outside of North Salem. Weighing in at 232 acres, McCloud Nature Park offers 6.5 miles of trails on gravel and natural surfaces that take hikers over a wide variety of topography.
(Insider tip: My personal favorite is Acorn Pass on the far eastern side of the park. It's only a quarter-mile in length, but it takes you through some elevation and some beautiful woods that are full of wildlife.)
Big Walnut Creek runs through the park, and a historic truss bridge (pictured at the top of this post) spans the creek, offering a wonderful view from above.
The McCloud Nature Center provides heated modern restrooms daily from dawn to dusk, as well as a place to step inside and warm up on Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day during the winter.
For more information about McCloud Nature Park, click here.
Along with the B&O Trail, the Vandalia Trail is the other major rail trail in Hendricks County. This trail, which runs along what used to be the Vandalia Railroad corridor, has two separate portions.
Hendricks County Parks & Recreation operates 4.1 miles of the trail from Amo, west through Coatesville, to the Hendricks-Putnam County line, where it connects to People Pathways and continues all the way to Greencastle, Ind.
This section of the Vandalia Trail is paved and goes unplowed during the winter, providing a nice cross-country skiing opportunity. To learn more about this portion of the Vandalia Trail, click here.
A separate 4.3-mile stretch of paved trail runs through the northern section of Plainfield and is operated by Plainfield Parks & Recreation. This section of the trail gets plowed after snowstorms, leaving a clean walking surface for winter hikers and taking them through three town parks along the way.
For more information about the Vandalia Trail, click here.
Washington Township Park
Among the 160 acres of Washington Township Park in Avon are more than 5 miles of trails, a mix of paved and natural surfaces. The most scenic of those trails are in the Upper Park and take winter hikers past a half-acre pond and through the woods.
Hikers can also enjoy the StoryWalk trail, which is sponsored by the Avon-Washington Township Public Library.
To learn more about Washington Township Park, click here.
More Hendricks County Trails
These certainly aren't the only winter hiking options in Hendricks County. Explore more about where you can stretch your legs in Hendricks County by clicking here.