Horseback riding is a popular pastime at Brown County State Park. Pony rides for kids and trail rides for adults are both available. Visitors also can bring their own horse to ride in the park.
Horseback riding is a popular pastime at Brown County State Park. Pony rides for kids and trail rides for adults are both available. Visitors also can bring their own horse to ride in the park.

NASHVILLE, Ind. — Brown County State Park is known for its outdoor activities, picnic oases and vistas with miles of uninterrupted forest views.

But during October it attracts thousands of visitors for one main reason: the changing of leaves from green to vibrant red, orange and yellow.

The park offers visitors a chance to experience autumn in Indiana like nowhere else. From camping to walking trails and everything in between, there is no shortage of activities to enjoy.

“It’s about the environment — it’s about nature and seeing the change of seasons,” said Katie Kogler, interpretive naturalist for the park.

“People can see our programs that explain what’s going on. Programs about leaf color changes, about hibernation and hunting — everything that is going on in the fall.”

She explained that guests also can enjoy bike trails, hiking, fishing, camping and picnics while visiting the park.

According to Kogler, the peak season for leaf color is around the middle of October.

When asked about the best places to see fall landscapes at the park, Kogler shared her favorite spot.

“There’s a secret view that people can’t see from the road,” she explained. “It’s by the park office on the Friends Trail. You can go down the trail and find the vista. It’s really nice there because there’s a big overhang area to sit at.”

The Friends Trail also will host the Friendly Trick-or-Treat Trail from 5 to 6 p.m. on Oct. 26. As part of Halloween at the Park, guests can dress in costume and walk the kid-friendly path.

For those who want something a little scarier, the Haunted Trail will be from 8 to 10 p.m., also on the Friends Trail.

Halloween at the Park also includes pumpkin carving and campsite decorating contests. The event is free, but donations are encouraged to help support future events.

For those interested in observing wildlife, there are plenty of chances to see animals up close at the park.

“Just sitting outside, compared to in the city, you hear a lot more different kinds of birds, you see a lot more bugs,” Kogler said. “When you go to a movie, everything is right there. But once you get here you have to sit, listen and watch.”

She gave insight to visitors on the best places to see animals this fall.

“How much wildlife you see depends on how closely you look and what time,” she noted. “With deer, down by the pool area you can see a lot of deer around 7 p.m. You can see turkey early in the morning. Snakes and turtles are going into hibernation, but there’s lots of birds and bugs.”

It’s important that guests avoid feeding and petting wildlife, Kogler said. Guests can learn more about Indiana wildlife by visiting the Nature Center.

“At the Nature Center you can look at all the displays — it’s really educational,” Kogler said. “You can look at the garden. We have native plants labeled that you can grow in your own garden. You can also see our timber rattlesnake and go to our bird viewing area inside.”

At the bird viewing area, visitors can watch chipmunks, birds and other critters eat and play in a small oasis. The one-way glass mirror allows people to see the animals up close without the animals seeing them.

After learning at the Nature Center, guests can choose from a variety of activities. Shopping at the country store, camping and walking are just a few options.

“A lot of people go horseback riding,” Kogler said. “Both saddle rides, and you can bring your own horse.

“The hiking is also really nice, especially around the lakes. In the fall, you can see the reflection of the leaves.”

Those interested in camping can reserve a spot online at www.indianastateparks.reserveamerica.com. Lodging and motels also are available nearby.