The Jackson-Washington State Forest spans across over 18,000 acres through the center of Indiana. The area has beautiful and unique topography known as the "knobs" which are striking natural formations. Visitors can enjoy the picturesque views on the drive there or from one of the many hiking trails on foot. The land was purchased by the state of Indiana in the 1930s and 1950s and is now protected with nature flourishing. The Skyline Drive is two miles south of the park, which gives visitors stunning views, particularly in autumn.
Why not bring your trailer or RV for a family camping trip at Knob Lake Campground? If you get in early, you can get yourself a campsite right on the lake. It is first-come, first-served so be mindful of this during the busy summer season. Firewood is available for purchase during the summertime. On your visit, you will be able to enjoy hiking, biking, horseback riding, boating, fishing, and archery. Take some time off by the lake and enjoy the serenity of nature with your own boat. There is also plenty of wildlife and stunning views for amateur photographers.
Jackson-Washington State Forest is just about an hour north of Louisville, Kentucky and an hour-and-a-half south of Indianapolis, Indiana. To get to the State forest, you will drive along picturesque roads such as skyline drive. The main forest area is located 2.5 miles southeast of Brownstown, which is where you can purchase any necessities for your camping trip. There is plenty of parking space for your RV and campervan, as well as wide roads to turn around. There is also plenty of parking near the boat ramp, where you can leave your trailer. At over 18,000 acres, Jackson-Washington State Forest covers a massive area so it will be easier to travel by car or RV to visit every region of the park. Of course, this also means there are plenty of areas to explore the park while biking, hiking, or horseback riding too.
The Knob Lake Campground is located north of the forest office just by Knob Lake. The campsites are basic and have pit toilets, and potable water is available during the peak season. You must register at the gatehouse before setting up your campsite.
There are 62 campsites, and all are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are picnic tables and grills located at each of these campsites. Campsites 11 and 62 are ADA-accessible. Some of them are located right by the lakeside, giving campers a beautiful view of the water. Majority of the campsites are in the nearby pine forest. The trees provide welcome shade and privacy from other campers.
There is also a youth tent campground which is designed for scouts or other youth groups. This campground is located near the beginning of trail 3. There are also some backcountry camping options available along the Knobstone Trail, although you'll need to bring all your own amenities.
If you love hiking and are into a challenge, then you will love the many trails in the Jackson-Washington State Forest. The Knobs terrain has many steep hills, so bring your hiking shoes and plenty of water in your campervan. The longest trail is the Back Country Trail which is 8 miles long and located near Starve Hollow Lake. There are maps of the trails available at the campground.
For a multi-day hike, you can check out Indiana's longest hiking path that also passes through Jackson-Washington State Forest. The Knobstone Trail is a 58-mile long trail through the heart of Indiana, which provides a beautiful backpacking trip for avid hikers. Make sure to wear brightly colored clothing during hunting season to ensure your safety.
If you're an avid horseback rider, then you will love the many trails in the State Forest. There are around 13.9 miles of marked trails stretching through the dense forests. Horse riding is only permitted on designated bridle trails, so keep your eyes peeled for those signs.
There are three trails which you can explore with your horse. There is the Boot Loop which is an easy 1.8-mile trail. The Gobbler Loop is a 1.9-mile long moderate trail and the White Pine Loop is a shorter 1.2-mile moderate trail. There is plenty of parking for horse trailers at the designated camping spot which is located on the eastern side of the park.
There are five lakes in the Jackson-Washington State Forest where fishermen can try to catch a fish. Anglers will enjoy the choice of lakes, whether by fishing from the shore or on the boat. Boats with motors are only allowed on Spurgeon Hollow Lake and Knob Lake. The other ones are only limited to electric motors or paddling.
There is also a ADA-accessible fishing dock at Spurgeon, allowing everyone to enjoy fishing. Some of the fish species you might catch include black crappie, bluegill, small mouth bass, brown trout, channel catfish, muskellunge and yellow perch. Before heading out on the lake make sure to get yourself an Indiana State Fishing License.
One of the favorite activities in the state forest, is the archery range. There are four targets for shooters to practice at distances of 15, 20, 30 and 40 yards. There are also seven different target stations of various distances to challenge the shooter. There is even one elevated target which allows you to simulate a standing tree shot to expand your range and abilities. The archery range is located in a forested section of the park, which provides shade in the warm summer time. It's a great way to practice for hunting, brush up on your skills, or have a fun afternoon!
The area is also popular with bow and gun hunters alike. The forest is teeming with wildlife, and with a valid hunting license you can spend your days tracking and shooting creatures. However, be mindful that there are also many hikers who travel along the trails. You will be able to hunt white-tailed deer, ruffed grouse, eastern wild turkey, rabbit, quail, dove, squirrel, fox, coyote, and raccoon. Trapping is also permitted if you have a written permit by the property manager.
Don't forget to bring your picnic basket in your camper or trailer because Jackson-Washington State Forest provides a stunning backdrop for a serene picnic. There are nine picnic areas dotted all over the forest, so you can grab any open spot that suits you. Some picnic areas feature playgrounds so the kids can get out some energy too. You might want to bring binoculars and a camera too in case you spot some local wildlife or birds.