A Hiker’s Guide to Bloomington, Indiana

Bloomington Wetlands
Bloomington Wetlands | © Ken Ratcliff / Flickr
Photo of Courtney Johnston
27 June 2018

When it comes to outdoor fun, Bloomington, Indiana, is a Midwestern city with a lot to offer. It has a variety of unique trails, from urban settings to secluded, rural retreats. From paths paved for runners to more rugged, adventurous treks, there’s a perfect hiking trail waiting for you in this charming city.

Morgan-Monroe State Forest

Hiking Trail
Map View
Morgan-Monroe Forest | Sajith T S / Flickr
Morgan-Monroe Forest | Morgan-Monroe Forest

Indiana’s second largest state forest, Morgan-Monroe State Forest, has an entry point right in Bloomington. This outdoor paradise boasts a plethora of hiking trails and will offer amazing scenery and an escape from urban living. The Low Gap and Three Lakes Trails are two of the most popular treks, both spanning 10 miles (16 kilometers) and looping back to their starting points. These trails are ideal for more experienced hikers or those looking for a bit of a challenge.

Karst Farm Park Greenway

Hiking Trail
Map View
Karst Farm Park | Lee Lawmaster / Flickr
Karst Farm Park | Karst Farm Park

This family-friendly park is a favorite place for walking, jogging or biking. This 3.5-mile (5.6-kilometer) paved trail is perfect for strollers or wheelchairs and is dog-friendly as well. Those looking for more of a challenge can follow the trail up to the popular Heritage Trail in nearby Ellettsville. This hiking path offers a quiet walk around a quaint neighborhood park away from the bustling city.

Cascades Park Trail

Hiking Trail
Map View

This newly opened hiking and walking trail is made of asphalt and spans eight feet (2.4 meters) wide. It follows Old State Road 37 northbound, leading from the Lower Cascades Ballfields up to Griffy Lake Dam. This park runs through some urban spots and has traffic lights for pedestrian safety. The trail is kid-friendly, pet-friendly, and wheelchair accessible.

Bloomington Rail Trail

Hiking Trail
Map View
Bloomington Rail Trail | Bart Everson / Flickr
Bloomington Rail Trail | Bloomington Rail Trail
Bloomington is well known for its distinct rail trail, which intersects with the Clear Creek Rail Trail. This path runs from Church Lane to W. Country Club Drive, spanning a total of two miles (3.2 kilometers). The trail isn’t quite paved, consisting of concrete and crushed stone, so expect a slightly uneven and bumpy walk through suburbs and woods. Hikers will find a variety of gorgeous sights, including hidden creeks and lush greenery, along the way.

Indiana University Campus Trails

Hiking Trail
Map View
Indiana University | StevenW. / Flickr
Indiana University | Indiana University

One of the most popular spots to walk or hike is Indiana University. Hikers can enjoy leisurely walks or jogs along one of the state’s most stunning campuses. It’s easy to build a customized hiking adventure by mapping out your route in advance or simply following the trails until you tire. Be sure to take in the unique campus architecture, art, and amazing outdoor spaces along the way.

Clear Creek Trail

Hiking Trail
Map View

This little-known rural trail is also a rail trail and lies between Tapp Road and the Bloomington Rail Trail entry point on Church Road. This asphalt paved path has a smooth surface that is perfect for walking, jogging or running. The trail runs for a total of 2.4 miles (3.8 kilometers) and offers some glimpses of some of Bloomington’s natural beauty. This one is an ideal quiet trail for those looking to get away from more crowded parks and busy hiking spots.

B-Line Trail

Hiking Trail
Map View
B-Line Trail | Bart Everson / Flickr
B-Line Trail | B-Line Trail

No hiking list in Bloomington is complete without mentioning the B-Line Trail. This beloved urban trail cuts through the heart of the city, passing some of the best shops, eateries, and attractions in town. This trail runs for 3.1 miles (4.9 kilometers), starting at Adams Street and ending at Country Club Drive, where it eventually meets up with the Bloomington Rail Trail. It is lit with LED lights from sunset to sunrise, making it easy to explore any time of day.

Hikers can also find other urban and fitness trail locations throughout downtown Bloomington here.

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