Martinsville, IN: Rock Shelter Trail at Morgan-Monroe State Forest

This past Saturday Eric and I went a few miles north toward Martinsville to hike at Morgan-Monroe State Forest. We had never been here before and wanted to try something new.
 It is about half an hour from our home; we followed the Google Maps GPS directions, which had us get off IN-37 pretty early into the trip, and had no trouble getting there.

The forest has a handful of trails. My friends who have been there go primarily for the two 10-mile hikes (the longest hikes near Bloomington that I know of), but we wanted something shorter. There are a couple of 3 mile hikes, including the Rock Shelter Trail, which is what we did.

The parking lot is the same as for the Low Gap Trail (which is one of the 10 milers) and isn't terribly large, but we were there in the afternoon on a hot day in June, and only a few other cars were there. There aren't any other amenities at this location, but we drove by a small playground and a pit toilet nearby on our way back out. 

There are three trailheads in the parking lot. It's not super obvious which one to take. Eric checked them all out and was pretty sure that two of them would be fine (the trail we did is a loop). We picked one another family had gone down a few minutes earlier and it turned out to be the correct choice. 

This is the only place on the trail you will see "Rock Shelter Trail" listed on a trail marker. This is our main quip with all the trails we have been on, especially around here - the trails are marked very poorly.

The other main thing we didn't like about this trail is that about a third of it (almost a mile, half a mile  each at the beginning and the end) was on rough gravel. Beware of that and wear good shoes.

The rest of the trail is dirt and maintained pretty well.

The trail goes down a few hundred feet into the valley floor. It was quite buggy but otherwise pretty.

The trail is named for the rock shelter (we assume) that we encountered about halfway in.

All in all, a good short hike (it took us less than an hour and a half on a 90-degree day with 280ft of elevation gain) as long as you pay attention to where the trail goes. Make sure you do a tick check after any hikes (Eric had another tick on him). Here is a map of the forest with our trail highlighted:

Martinsville, IN: Rock Shelter Trail at Morgan-Monroe State Forest Martinsville, IN: Rock Shelter Trail at Morgan-Monroe State Forest Reviewed by Maria on 9:52:00 PM Rating: 5

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