Yellowwood State Forest advisories
- Beginning on or shortly after February 28, 2024, portions or all of the Redbud, Hickory, and White Oak campgrounds located at Yellowwood State Forest will be temporally closed for maintenance. These sites will reopen as work is completed in each with an anticipated completion date of March 31. We apologize for the inconvenience.
- Due to the unexpected closure of the county road that the Tecumseh Trail uses to reconnect with state land to the north and because of No Trespassing signs erected by the railroad for public safety, the Tecumseh Trail is closed at the section shown on the map until further notice.
Yellowwood State Forest was created in 1940 when federal land was leased to the state of Indiana. The land was deeded to the state in 1956. Prior to that time, the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Project Administration completed three lakes, a shelter house, and a residence, all still in use.
More than 2,000 abandoned and eroded acres were planted to pine (red, jack, shortleaf, white, and scotch), black locust, black walnut, white, and red oak. Red and white pines are the true northern pines and are still in good condition. The other pines are succumbing to insects, disease, and extremely cold winters.
Yellowwood Lake was completed in 1939. The 133-acre lake is about 30 feet deep.
Yellowwood State Forest has gained various parcels over the last decade and currently encompasses over 25,000 acres.
This property is a stop on the
Learn more at www.indianabirdingtrail.com.
Primitive (Class C) campsites are centrally located within the forest and around Yellowwood Lake. See the fees page for a list of camping fees. There are 80 designated campsites south of the Forest Office and a carry-in tent site area north of the office. Vault toilets and drinking water are available near the campsites. A playground is located within the campground area.
A Class C Horsemen's Camp with 10 sites is located south of the primitive campsites and is convenient to the many miles of horse trails that wander through the forest.
All campsites/campgrounds at Yellowwood State Forest are first come first served 365 days a year, camping reservations are not taken. Please register for camping at the forest office.
The 133-acre Yellowwood Lake offers excellent fishing; a valid Indiana fishing license is required. A boat launch is located at the south end of the lake; boat motors are limited to electric trolling motors only. Rowboat rental is available seasonally. Bear Lake and Crooked Creek Lake are also popular recreation and fishing areas on the forest property. Camping is not permitted at these two lakes, and swimming is not permitted at any lake.
Whitetail deer, ruffed grouse, turkey, squirrel, fox, woodcock, and raccoon. A valid hunting license is required. Hikers and horseback riders are advised to wear hunter orange or other bright clothing while on trails during hunting season.
- Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forest hunting map north
- Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forest hunting map south
Panning for gold is permitted on Morgan-Monroe and Yellowwood State Forests. A gold panning permit is required! The permit, which can be obtained free of charge, allows for panning gold on a hobby basis. The displacement of any material through the use of a pick, shovel, or sluice is not allowed due to concern for water quality. Archaeological evidence found, such as projectile points, pottery, or bones must be reported to the Forest Office to determine if a major archaeological site is in the vicinity. To obtain a permit, visit or call the Forest Office at 812-988-7945.
The Lodge at Yellowwood
The Lodge at Yellowwood is a newly renovated log cabin with all the comforts of home. The Lodge has a quaint front porch for relaxing and wildlife viewing, with a large back patio for grilling and outside dining. The lodge is located a few short miles from the main body of Yellowwood State Forest, where you can find numerous miles of trails to hike, including horse trails. The forest also includes a large lake for fishing and kayaking; kayaks and rowboats can be rented from the Forest Office. Get rental rates and information.
The Yellowwood Tree
Yellowwood State Forest is named for a tree common in the mid-south but rare this far north. The yellowwood tree (Cladrastis kentukea) has bright yellow heartwood that is hard and dense. The tree flowers abundantly but only every three to five years in the spring with loose clusters of pea-like, fragrant white flowers. Seeds are in bean pods similar to its cousin the black locust. The leaves are compound and the bark is similar to the American beech.
There are picnic areas and one picnic shelter available for day use. Picnic tables and grills are located at most picnic sites. The picnic shelter may be reserved by contacting the property office.
- Jackson Creek Trail - 1.5 miles - Self-guiding interpretive trail. Traverses a variety of terrain and forest types. Trail begins 3/4 mile north of the Forest Office.
- High King Trail - .5 miles - Steep trail cut through a heavily forested hillside. The trail leads up to a scenic view, returning to starting point along the same path, and connects with the end of Scarce of Fat Trail. Trail begins below dam about 1.5 miles from the Forest Office.
- Lake Trail - 4.5 miles - This trail loops completely around Yellowwood Lake. The trail uses several segments of other marked trails so caution to follow the right trail is needed. The path also requires you to navigate a shallow stream crossing.
- Scarce O' Fat Trail - 4 miles - Some parts follow fire trails, so watch for trail markers. Begins just north of High King Trail along the road to the spillway.
- Tecumseh Trail - 42 miles - This trail follows the proposed national Tecumseh Trail route that was to span from Florida to Canada. The trail begins near the head of Panther Creek. The trail ends 42 miles later at the Morgan-Monroe State Forest office. Trailheads are located near Crooked Creek Lake, the north boat ramp at Yellowwood Lake, at Prange Pond on Dubois Ridge Road, at Bear Lake, and at the Morgan-Monroe State Forest office. Camping is allowed in the backcountry area along the Low Gap Trail, at the north end of Yellowwood Lake in the designated campground, and where the trail begins/ends at Hoosier National Forest. Flooding may block several sections of trail during wet weather, and potable water can be found only at property offices.
- Resource Management Trail - 1.5 miles - Self-guiding interpretive trail. Brochure is available at Forest Office. Trailhead across the road from the office.
Horses are allowed only on marked bridle trails. An annual horse use tag is required.
- "Y" Horse Trail - 8.6 miles - Starts and ends near Horse Campground.
- "SY" Horse Trail - 4 miles - This shortcut creates a 4-mile loop on the Y Trail.
- "W" Horse Trail - 2.4 miles - This trail is accessible off Crooked Road just south of Highway 46. The trail connects with Brown County State Park trail system.
- "Z" Bill Jack Horse Trail - 4 miles - Starts at Horse Campground - traverses west side of lake and along Scarce of Fat Trail.
- "X" Brock Road Horse Trail - 2 miles - Starts on Brock Road - connects to Bill Jack Trail.
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