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Martin State Forest was established in 1932 with the purchase of 1,205 acres. A firetower and a small picnic area were soon built. In 1933, the Civilian Conservation Corps built several shelterhouses. Three fishing ponds were constructed in 1957. Each pond measured 3 to 4 acres. In the mid-1960s a 26-site, primitive campground was developed.
The property has grown to 7,863 acres through additional land purchases and trades with the U.S. Forest Service. Most of the land was eroding, abandoned farmland or heavily cut-over woodland when acquired. With years of intensive management, including the planting of thousands of trees, countless hours fighting wildfires and hundreds of acres of selective improvement harvests, the area has been transformed into a lush, healthy, growing forest.
Primitive (class C) camping is available for a fee. There are 26 designated campsites located within the forest. Pit toilets and drinking water are available near sites. A self check-in station is located in the campground. We do not accept reservations, camping is available on a first come, first served basis.
Martin State Forest has three lakes on the property:
Martin Lake and Hardwood Lake are open to fishing with a valid Indiana fishing license. While Pine Lake is usually too heavily vegetated to fish, it can be a nice area for viewing wildlife.
Species of fish are channel catfish, bluegill and largemouth bass, as well as some crappie and redear. Boat motors are limited to electric trolling motors. Swimming is prohibited in all lakes.
Whitetail deer, turkey, gray squirrel, rabbit and raccoon. A valid hunting license is required. See Where to Hunt for more information.
Several picnic areas including 4 picnic shelters are available for day use. Picnic areas, with picnic tables and grills, are located throughout the forest.
The Hoosier Woodland Arboretum is located adjacent to the state forest office, and is open year round without charge. Spring, summer and fall are the best times to visit the arboretum. The trail through the arboretum is self-guiding and the walking is easy. You may park your vehicle across from the arboretum entrance or at the forest office. An accessible parking spot and connecting trail are located adjacent to the arboretum. The arboretum contains about three acres with a ¼ mile winding trail. There is a shorter segment of the trail that is wheelchair accessible in dry weather.
This informal arboretum was established in an existing wooded area. Additional species have been added to those already present, and the collection currently contains about 60 different species identified by signs along the trail. The most common species, such as the oaks and hickories, are represented within the arboretum by several specimens. These specimens were present when the arboretum was established. Unlike many arboretums, our goal is not to provide a great number of different species, but to offer a representation of the common woodland trees in Indiana.
Hikers are advised to wear hunter orange or other bright clothing while on trails during hunting season.
Woodland Education Trail:
The trail is approximately 1-1/4 miles long, or about one hour of easy walking. This is a self guided trail that will return you to your original starting point. Located on the trail are informational signs, which point out some interesting facts about the woodland environment. Hiking this trail will allow hikers an opportunity to better understand the philosophy of multiple-use management of Indiana’s state forests.
Besides the abundant natural beauty of the forest, you will see the interactions between people and the forest. Some examples include the picnic areas, an old demonstration timber harvest, a campground, and Martin lake. Also easily accessible from the trail via short spur trails are the Willow Valley Fire Tower and the Tower Hill Shelterhouse, structures that were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s.
We hope this trail will “whet your appetite” to explore and enjoy the entire forest. Further information is available at the forest office.
Tank Spring Trail:
Tank Spring Trail is a moderately rugged hiking trail situated in the hills of eastern Martin County. The trailhead is located along a county road approximately three miles from the Martin State Forest office. It can be reached by going straight south out of the forest entrance on State Road 650 and following the signs to the trailhead.
Tank Spring, which is the focal point of the trail, has an interesting history. It is thought that the spring, originally known as Green Spring, became known as Tank Spring because water from the spring was used to fill a tank along the old Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. At that time, train locomotives used the water in their steam engines. The tank was near the spot where the old town of Willow Valley once stood. Willow Valley was a regular railroad stop, but like many other similar towns, it has disappeared with the passing of the steam locomotive from the railroad system. Now only the name Tank Spring remains as a reminder.
The hiking trail was initially established in 1979 and led directly to Tank Spring. In 1980-81, a second section of trail was constructed which began at the Spring and followed a different route back, thus completing a loop and bringing the total trail length to three miles. Several Young Adult Conservation Corps (YACC) crews supplied the labor to build the trail.
Although the area is undeveloped except for the trail, it is not a backcountry area, and no camping or fires are allowed.
Sixty acres surrounding Tank Spring were dedicated as a Nature Preserve in 1997. This area contains a high quality example of mesic (moderately moist) upland forest community, sand stone cliffs and a permanent fresh water spring.
For more information, please contact the DNR Division of Nature Preserves at (317) 232-4052.
EASY, (.25 mile) – A short loop that’s adjacent to the office. It also connects to the Martin Lake Trail and has a .1 mile wheelchair accessible loop.
Martin Lake Trail
EASY, (.25 mile) – An easy walk around Martin Lake.
Hardwood Lake Trail
EASY, (.35 mile) – An easy hike around Hardwood Lake.
MODERATE, (.9/.5 MILES) – Starts behind the Cookshack Shelter and heads east; then drops downhill and follows the contour around to the north before dropping downhill almost to the creek; (a spur trail takes off to the east at this point, crossing firelane 6 and ending at firelane 19); the Cookshack Trail continues on to the north and then west until it intersects with the Woodland Education Trail. This portion of the trail is .9 miles long. To return to the Cookshack, turn south (left) on the Woodland Education Trail and follow it .5 miles to the spur trail that leads back to the Tower Hill Shelter and Cookshack Shelter area.
Mountain bike trails
Martin State Forest offers 7 miles of mountain bike trails. Mountain bikes are only permitted on those designated trails. For further details and a trail map, click the loop you are interested in riding.
Easy. Numbered and mapped firelanes.