Another one of Karlie’s favorite Bloomington adventures was hiking at Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve. The preserve extends out into Lake Monroe and is on a portion of the former Indiana University Alumni Association’s Shawnee Bluffs camp. The trail was built by the Hoosier Hikers Council. It starts behind some large, beautiful homes and ends on the beach at Lake Monroe. There is 1.7 miles of lake frontage, however there is no access to the lake until the end. The total distance is about 2.2 miles.
The preserve is only open during the week and has a small eight-spot parking lot with no street parking. Despite this we’ve never had any trouble finding parking, but we always go in the morning. The trail is wide, other than a narrow path at the start and at the end leading to the lake. For most of the hike, it feels like walking through the woods even though it’s not very dense and the lake is visible on one or both sides. The trail itself is typical for a hike in the woods – hard packed dirt with rocks and tree roots. It has some pretty steep inclines and descents both ways so this is only recommended for those in good health.
Karlie and I hiked the trail at Amy Weingartner Branigin Peninsula Preserve several times. We even brought my parents on one of their visits. Karlie loved climbing the hills, she was such a billy goat. She also loved getting down to the lake and walking in the water. Sunny and I took our first adventure to the preserve in September 2022. She loved all the great smells and, like Karlie, she enjoyed getting down to the water to get her toes wet. We rate this trail 3.5 out of 4 paws up with the only negatives being the small parking lot and no restroom.
How do I get there?
Getting to the preserve is fairly straight forward until you get to the end. It’s located on Rush Ridge Road off State Road 446 in Bloomington, Indiana. Rush Ridge Road has some large, beautiful homes and is a fairly windy and somewhat narrow road. Driving fast on Rush Ridge Road is not recommended. At one point Rush Ridge Road intersects with Rush Ridge Fork. Do not take the fork, stay on Rush Ridge Road. I made this mistake a couple times and it’s easy to turn back around. About half a mile after the fork there is a gated driveway and a sign indicating the parking lot on the right. Park in the lot and walk behind the Sycamore Land Trust sign to access the trail.
For more information, check out the Sycamore Land Trust website.