There are two old lookout towers in Brown County State Park with stone bases supporting a cantilevered log top. Both were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the early 1930s. The north tower was the destination of one of our hikes, and we visited the west tower by automobile. The views from both towers were good, although the north one was better. The towers themselves were well worth visiting even if there had not been a view.
For those who don't want to hike, the north tower may be reached by a fairly short uphill walk from the main road leading through the park. There are picnic tables beside the tower. The west tower is nearer the road and there is a small paking area.
There are several scenic overlooks in Brown County State Park. Perhaps the most notable of these is Hesitation Point on Weed Patch Hill, at 1004 feet above sea level. Other overlooks are behind the Nature Center and along the main ridge top road that winds through the park. Several of these overlooks have a small parking area and picnic tables.
These hills have the appearance of small mountains from the valleys below. However, when looking out over the tops of the hills it is apparent that they are all of approximately the same height. This shows that they are hills that have not been pushed up by geologic forces so much as they are simply higher areas that have been left behind by slow erosion of the valleys.
On a clear day it is said that you can see for eleven miles from the highest ridge. It was clear during our visit, and I'm sure we saw for at least that far.
In some of my pictures, like the one on the front of this page, it appears at first glace that you are looking out over a flat field. In reality, that photo is taken from a high ridge and we were looking down on the bare tops of thousands of trees covering one smaller ridge after another.
After hiking around Strahl Lake, we decided to take the spur trail up a steep incline to the Nature Center.
Unfortunately, we were there on a Monday, and the center is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays during the winter months. However, we still enjoyed seeing the wildlife feeding area behind the Nature Center. A small pond and several feeders attracted a large variety of songbirds: nuthatches, cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers and more.
The staff at the nature center provides a variety of interpretative and educational opportunities throughout the year.
This Pioneer Garden, beside the Nature Center, is a reminder that before this land became a State Park in 1929, these hills and valleys were the home to several small farmsteads. The plants grown in the garden are typical of those that would have been cultivated by the people living here. a deer-high fence surrounds the garden to keep critters out and there are interpretative signs and plant labels on the garden beds.
Although we were here during the dormant winter season, it was still fun to read the exhibits and see the dried stalks of last summer's growth. There were a few evergreen plants to brighten the landscape.
Ramp Creek Covered Bridge holds two distinctions, in a state that is noted for its covered bridges. This is not only the oldest covered bridge still standing in Indiana, but also the only 2-lane covered bridge in the state.
The bridge is just south of State Route #46 and provides the front (north) entrance into Brown County State Park. Here the bridge crosses Salt Creek. It was moved to the park from its original location on Ramp Creek for preservation and protection.
Because of the low clearance (9 feet) larger vehicles, such as RVs, must take an alternate entrance into the park through the west gate.
The last remaming 2-land covered bridge in Indiana. It's the only one I know of in the mid-west. I may have missed one someplace in Pennsylvania or New England, but I'm pretty sure this is it in the Great Lakes/Midwest. It's a Multiple Kings Post - Burr Arch truss, which is common throughout Indiana. Especially in Parke (Rockville) and Putnam (CB Travelogue) Counties, the home of Indiana's concetration of standing bridges. This bridge is unique in that it was rescued from another location (still verifying where) and moved here to become the main entrance to the state park. It's open for car traffic. If you're in a motorhome or pulling a trailer, you'll have to use the west entrance because the bridge will not handle large vehicles. Afterall, you don't want the rescue crews pulling you out of your vehicle, sitting in the creek under the collapsed ruins of an historic gem. There is space on either side to park and take a walk up to the bridge. Just keep an eye out for vehicles coming and going.
We visited in the spring, the leaves were still off the trees, the sun shone through highlighing the hills and the shapes of each individual tree. It was a wonderful day, so we stopped at Stahl Lake to get out and take the short walk around the impoundment. (None of the lakes in the park are natural. The lay of the land is hills, the let the waters run off in gullies and vallies to the bigger rivers in the area. Several lakes have been created and Stahl is one of the smaller one.
As we started around, we heard the 'peeper'. Frogs calling to each other. The chorus was vibrant and alive, but distant. Leaving from the dam, we followed the trail on the north side and the sound continue to echo around the lake. It wasn't until we reached the first lobe, where a small brook entered the lake through a wide wetland plain (okay it was may be 100' wide, but it was wet!) that we noticed the peepers in the water. We were surrounded by their spring song. The next 1/2 mile (0.8 km) was nothing but peepers singing in the spring sun. Thousands upon thousands (see the pictures). What a glorious way to welcome spring back.