Originally posted: March 6th, 2010
As the only designated wilderness area in the state of Indiana, the Deam Wilderness holds a special place in the hearts of all Hoosiers who like their nature experience just a little on the wild side. It has been at least 15 years since I last hiked the Peninsula Trail. The trail and my memory of it have changed just a little since then.
The trail begins at the Grubb Ridge parking area and follows the John Grubb Ridge trail for the first 2.2 miles. It then branches off onto the Peninsula trail, jutting out into Lake Monroe for another 2.6 miles.
When I hiked this trail in the mid 90s I remember the spot where the trail branches off as being unmarked and in the middle of a field of tall grass. That time it was July and the cicadas were making a “thucka-thucka-thucka” sound in the grass that sounds just like a rattlesnake ready to strike. Wearing shorts and tennis shoes I’ll admit I walked really quickly through that grass muttering to myself “it’s just cicadas, it’s just cicadas.” But 15 years later the experience was much less dramatic. For one thing, it was February, and for another the trail seems to split in a different place now. Gone is the tall grass and in its place is just a well cleared trail. Heck, it’s even marked. So no “thucka-thucka-thucka” sounds either as I calmly went on my way.
Much of the trail is shared with horses so you can expect sections of it to be rutted out at times, and depending on the time of year, muddy.
As you start hiking out into the Peninsula you will have several opportunities to gaze through the trees and see the lake below. This is especially nice in the fall and winter when the leaves have fallen.
Parts of the trail are moderately rugged with some decent inclines. As you make your way out you will lose 300 or 400 feet in elevation. Of course, you gain that back on your return trip. I would NEVER condone carving into trees, but I came across this on the trail. I didn’t feel that way when I first read it, but 2 miles later and I was in total agreement.
After approximately an hour and forty five minutes I neared the trail’s end and was greeted with a view of Lake Monroe. This is a beautiful view no matter what time of year it is and after hiking for almost 5 miles is also a very welcome sight!
There are many campsites right on the shoreline. Throw up your tent and stay awhile. You’re sure to have a beautiful sunset and maybe even hear coyotes in the distance as you drift off to sleep.
The Peninsula Trail is a wonderful hike in a very special part of Indiana. Throw on your old hiking boots and check it out. You’ll be glad you did.