It’s worth repeating that Putnam County has more land in protected nature areas than any other Indiana county, and this site covers them in detail, in addition to parks, waterways, historic covered bridges, trail systems, golf courses, campgrounds, and a host of outdoor recreation amenities. We’re fortunate to live here, just 45 minutes west of Indianapolis, with every overnight option imaginable for visitors who want to enjoy this with us.
What isn’t visible is how the county maintains and expands its outdoor recreation venues and programs. Four organizations, with boards totaling nearly 50 people, work closely and share a staff. The Putnam County Parks Board governs the direction. Putnam Parks & Pathways makes things happen. Friends of the Park of Putnam County helps fund the vision, and the Putnam County Visitors Center promotes it. A unique collaboration, it’s designed to dream big with our county commissioners and county council and continually create fun, meaningful ways to enjoy the health, education, recreation, stewardship, and entertainment benefits of nature.
OUR MISSION & VISION
We believe in the transformative powers of nature and how it can reshape lives now and in the future. The more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need to achieve a natural balance. We believe the mind/body/nature connection, referred to by some as “Vitamin N,” for “nature,” enhances physical and mental health; and utilizing both technology and nature experiences increases intelligence, creative thinking and productivity. Our vision is to develop outdoor venues, programs and events that support a natural balance. Our mission is to enhance the quality-of-life in Putnam County through community connections, citizen interaction and the growth, use and appreciation of natural areas.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
While we try to provide as much information as possible, we understand you may still have additional questions. Please feel free to contact Putnam Parks & Pathways via email or phone so we can further help.
Putnam Parks & Pathways is the immediate contact for all questions and issues related to Nature Preserves, Trails, and Covered Bridges. All other questions should be directed to the responsible organization that oversees the location.
Two locations have full-time employees available to answer questions during business hours; Deer Creek Fish & Wildlife Area and Cagles Mill Lake (Lieber State Park and Cataract Falls) SRA. Recreation locations have staff during business hours. Outside of those locations, please contact Putnam Parks & Pathways for any inquiries.
Cagles Mill Lake (Lieber and Cataract Falls SRA) and Glenn Flint Lake are the only locations that require an entry fee. All other locations are free to use and open to the public. Recreation locations, such as golf courses, may also have a fee associated with use.
Most parks, nature preserves, trails, and waterways are open from dawn to dusk, while some are technically open 24 hours a day. We recommend that if you are visiting a location after normal hours you take additional safety precautions. Recreation locations will have specific hours they are open.
Most parks, nature preserves and trails allow animals but they must be leashed at all times. Campsites, waterways, and recreation locations have individual rules about pets.
No. None of our parks, nature preserves or trails allow the use of motorized vehicles, with the exception of motorized wheelchairs at those locations that are ADA accessible.
Most trails throughout the county are unmarked, but they are also all out-and-back trails or circular trails that lead back to the start. If you wander from the trail and become lost, please contact the Putnam County Sheriffs Department at (765) 653-3211.
All campground locations offer overnight stays, including Camp Friend’s primitive sites. Each campsite has its own rules about campfires. There are no campfires allowed along the trail sections at any location.
All of our parks and nature preserves have free, available parking on-site. There are a number of trailheads around the county that offer free parking, and most covered bridges have free available parking in the immediate vicinity (please be cautious of private land).
Yes! Eight of the nine covered bridges are vehicle accessible. The Houck Covered Bridge has been bypassed and offers paved parking on its western side so it can be enjoyed on foot.
Putnam County is a relatively safe area to experience outdoor recreation, with few predators or poisonous plants. Common to the area are a few poisonous breeds of snakes and spiders, coyotes, and bobcats (rare), as well as a few toxic plants; poison ivy, poison oak, poison hemlock, and wild parsnip. For a full listing of plant and animal life, please visit the Indiana DNR official listing.
There are quite a few invasive species in Indiana and, along with the Putnam County Remove Invasive Species group, the Indiana DNR keeps an active and updated list which you can find here.
Chandlers Farm & Country Market is open year-round for you to pick and select your own vegetables and fruits. Each nature park location is different, some allow mushroom and berry hunting while others do not. Please keep in mind it is illegal in the state of Indiana to remove or disturb any plant or animal life in nature preserves.
Recycling and trash bins are very scarce, please comply with the carry-in/carry-out trash policy at all locations. Glass containers are discouraged in all locations.
Alcohol consumption is illegal at all public locations. At private locations, such as campsites and recreation locations, owners’ rules govern alcohol consumption. Please contact the location directly. Possession of alcohol by persons under the age of 21 is against Indiana law.