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Backpacker Magazine – November 2011

Rip & Go: Two Lakes Loop - Hoosier National Forest, IN

Camp next to forest lakes and rock-hop across clear streams.

by: Stuart Peck

Sky high red pines (Stuart Peck)
Sky high red pines (Stuart Peck)
Jason Falls (US Forest Service Photo)
Jason Falls (US Forest Service Photo)

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GPS-Enabled Trip Report
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Do it

This easygoing 12.4-mile loop through southern Indiana’s hill country is like three trips in one. The scenery morphs from dense deciduous forest to Midwest prairie to alpine-like lakes nestled in the hills. Begin at the Two Lakes Loop trailhead (1) off CR 501. Hike 2.4 miles to a stand of red pines towering 50 to 70 feet overhead, where the scent of their needles permeates the forest air. Another .1 mile brings you to Tige Creek (2) and the first of two crossings. Plan to wade across the 20-foot-wide stream, which can swell to knee-deep in late winter and spring with snowmelt and heavy rain (generally, it’s ankle deep in November).

Reach the Anderson River (3) in .3 mile, and another ford much like the Tige. Cruise 1.5 miles to reach the American Discovery Trail (4), a 6,800-mile cross-country route you’ll track along for three miles. Tank up in the small stream below a footbridge. There’s also water at camp (5) .8 mile ahead, but it’s in a low-lying forested area next to 152-acre Indian Lake, whose banks are often murky. To filter from Indian, let the water settle in a container for 30 minutes before pumping. Either way, try your luck casting for largemouth bass, blue gill, or catfish.

Next morning, catch the sunrise coming straight across the lake and look for ducks and cranes skimming over the water. Feeling adventurous? Bushwhack one mile west of Indian Lake to a stream and recently discovered Jason Falls. Break camp and head .8 mile to an earthen dam (6) where the trail curves around the lake’s southern tip. Hike 2.4 miles to blue-hued Celina Lake (7) and the dam at its southern tip, which boasts a view of the entire lake and surrounding wooded hills.

In 1.1 miles, hop across a 10-foot-wide rocky tributary that flows into Celina Lake (8), and fill up for the next 2.1 miles to the Interpretive Trail (9). This optional one-mile loop meanders around 30-foot-tall limestone outcroppings which rise above the woods like castle walls. Pick up CR 502 .5 mile later and follow it northeast .4 mile to the Two Lakes Loop trailhead and your car (10).

Trip Planner

Get there From Evansville, take I-164 13.4 miles to I-64. Turn east and drive 49 miles to IN 37. Turn south and go two miles to the Celina Lake Hoosier National Forest entrance.

Permit $5 per vehicle per day. Drop fee in box if entrance gate is unmanned.

Gear up Top Spot Outdoors, 11 South Green River Rd., Evansville, IN; (812) 476-8677;

Map Hoosier National Forest ($12, or USGS quad Breston ($8,

Trip data

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Oct 24, 2012

Did this hike with friends in August 12' its a nice hike and yes you can blow thru the hike in a day but hiking isn't a race for me and my friends its a relaxing escape, so that said its a nice over night hiking trip, and there are several nice camp sites already laid out and a dam that over looks each lake. Bring a collapsible fishing pole (garage sale $5) and take lunch on the damn and do some fishing, or find a spot to camp at one of the lakes edges. Never had a problem with ticks here but I imagine they are bad in the spring time like everywhere I mushroom hunt. The trail is well marked and in good shape. There are a few decent hills but nothing to demanding. There is water available in several spots not to mention the two lakes, unless its just been really dry there should be a few spots to fill up. All in all its a nice little get away.

May 17, 2012

I did the hike May 11, 2012 and agree with the other comment - pulled off 18 ticks in a 2 mile strech and then came across a sign pointing the way I'd come saying "tick infested area". The loop is only a day-hike or overnight if you get a late start. I started at 10:30am and finished the whole thing before 5. Carried 35lbs on my back for nothing. There aren't any views to stop at or side trails to take so the 13 miles go by quickly. I spent the night in the campground which was a nice, quiet, clean campground.

May 14, 2012

I did this hike with some friends in May of 2012. The scenery was very pretty, and the hiking was easy, but I have never seen so many ticks in my life. Every 5 to 10 minutes we would stop and pull 2 to 4 lone star ticks off of each us. In 30 years of outdoor experience I have never even come close to seeing so many ticks!


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