Since my family lives only 20 minutes from Brown County State Park, when we crave a long hike in the woods and a chance to reconnect, that’s usually where we head. But this weekend, we wanted to tackle a new trail. So we fired up the GPS and pointed our car toward the T.C. Steele State Historic Site. The long-time home of the famous impressionist painter (and well-known Hoosier) T.C. Steele, it features hiking trails, tours, studios, meeting space, a gift shop, and more, all nestled in the rolling hills of Brown County. We went early on a Sunday morning, so we couldn’t take a tour, but we were free to explore the grounds, which is well worth a visit in its own right.
We started on the Wildflower Trail, which then connects with the Trail of Silences. These trails were the perfect length and difficulty level for our 2-year-old, so I know this will become a new favorite hiking spot for our family. (Whenever hiking with young kids, I always suggest picking up a map or brochure and getting a description of the trails before setting off. At T.C. Steele, you’ll find maps mounted near the office door and can grab one even if they’re not open.)
And while tromping through the woods is high on our son’s list of most loved activities, his favorite part of our visit was exploring the Dewar Log Cabin. Built by the original owners of this property (the Dewar family), it’s a great example of a typical log home built during the 1870s in Brown County. While my husband, son and I stood inside the small room, we commented on how cramped it seemed. Mr. Dewar would apparently disagree, he raised 18 kids in this tiny space!
We also paid our respects to the painter and his family at the small cemetery. It’s tucked away between two giant oak trees, apparently selected by Mr. Steele and his wife for that very reason.
I’d love to make a return visit without a toddler in tow and take a tour of the buildings. I left wanting to learn more about this painter and his work, but with a great understanding of why he was inspired by the beauty of the land where he lived. Even if you do visit with young kids, the grounds are a perfect place to enjoy a few hours together. Next time, we’re planning to pack a picnic lunch.
T.C. Steele State Historic Site is open for tours Tuesday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tours cost $3.50 for adults, $3 for seniors and $2 for children 12 and under. Exploring the grounds like my family did is free of charge. It’s located only minutes from both downtown Nashville and Bloomington. The site often hosts special events, you’ll find a calendar here.
Photo courtesy of the Brown County Convention & Visitors Bureau.