The Sycamore Land Trust is a nonprofit conservation group that protects land, restores habitat, and provides nature preserves to hike around Bloomington, Indiana. They own and maintain more than 10,500 acres on more than 125 protected properties and maintain trails on 13 preserves. Amazingly, these areas are all free for public use and Porter West Preserve is one of them.
Although Karlie never had the opportunity to explore this preserve, we recently took Sunny here. The preserve, donated by the estate of David Porter, consists of about 2.6 miles of trails through the woods. It starts with a mowed field that goes past an interesting pile of cut stones (we wondered what that used to be) and leads to trails in the woods. Although the trees were a little past their peak on our visit, it was still quite pretty.
The preserve is open daily, but has two gravel parking lots with no street parking and no restrooms. Despite that there was only one other person and his dog there the day we visited. Most likely it’s a different story during the summer and on the weekends.
The trail is fairly narrow as it winds through the woods. Although the trail has a few offshoots, at each intersection and along the trail there are signs with arrows posted on the trees showing which direction to go. We completed a 1.5M loop mostly through the woods. The trail is hard packed dirt with some tree roots in it and several inclines and descents. For these reasons, it is only recommended for those in good health with good balance. Wearing appropriate footwear is a must.
Sunny enjoyed trekking in the woods and although the preserve is pretty, it’s not as interesting as some of the other places we’ve hiked in and around Bloomington, Indiana. We rate this trail 3 out of 4 paws up.
How do I get there?
Getting to the preserve is fairly straight forward. Take 48W out of Bloomington. Just past Richland Church, turn right onto W. Vernal Pike. Less than a quarter of a mile on W. Vernal Pike is the first parking lot. This lot holds three cars and is on the left. If this one is full, there is another lot a short distance down the road that holds two cars. The address for the preserve is 8700 W. Vernal Pike, Bloomington, Indiana.
For more information, check out the Sycamore Land Trust website.