Paynetown State Recreation Area is near the northern section of Lake Monroe and has a lower and upper section. The upper section is accessed from highway 446 behind the visitor’s center and has two trails in the woods – White Tail and Pate Hollow. The lower section has campsites, a beach, and trails near the lake. It is accessed by turning on Paynetown Road which is just past the visitor’s center.
We visited this park many times, going to both the upper and lower sections. On our first visit we hiked the Pate Hollow Trail in the upper section of the park. That day the trail was a bit muddy from December’s snow but we’ve been there when it was not wet or muddy. The trail is dirt, winds through the woods, has some inclines and descents, and small areas of running water. Like most trails in the woods, it has tree roots and stones on the trail.
We also often hiked the BlueBird Trail in the lower section. This trail is similar to the other two – hard packed dirt with roots, stones, and leaves. It winds through the woods, but is well marked and easy to follow.
You can hike for miles at Paynetown State Recreation Area. We’ve always found it be pretty quiet and only had to share the trails with a few others. Again, we go on weekday mornings. There is an abundance of parking throughout Paynetown SRA and restrooms in the park and at the visitor’s center. You can also access Lake Monroe in the lower section of the park. Although the trails have some inclines and descents, they would be appropriate for most individuals. They are not accessible via wheelchairs or strollers.
Karlie and I hiked the trails at Paynetown State Recreation Area many times and always enjoyed the solitude and being in the woods. Sunny and I took our first adventure there in September 2022. She loved being in the woods and exploring all the great smells. We rate this park 4 out of 4 paws up – great trails, access to the water, plenty of parking, and restrooms.
How do I get there?
Paynetown State Recreation Area is located on State Highway 446. Just take State Highway 446 South out of Bloomington. Once you pass the Scenic View Restaurant, it’s another few miles. Next you will see the Hoosier National Forest sign on the right, Lake Monroe Boat Storage on the left, and the visitor’s center on the right. If you park behind the visitor’s center you can access the Pate Hollow and White Tail trails without paying the entrance fee. To access the remaining trails and beach, follow Paynetown Road, which is just past the visitor’s center. Like most Indiana State Parks and Recreation Areas there is a fee to enter. In 2022 Indiana residents pay $7/vehicle and out of state individuals pay $9/vehicle. Season passes are available, however they are for the calendar year.
For more information, check out these websites.