The hiker-only Pate Hollow Trail is popular in fall, for good reason—the colors are magnificent, and it's well marked. From the Paynetown SRA parking area, the trail passes a branch to the left, then enters the adjacent federal land. At .1 mile is the start of the 8-mile loop. Bear right; first, you'll be sidehilling in mixed hardwood forest—shagbark and pignut hickories, red and white oaks, and the occasional cherry tree. Then you'll come to a closed old road and a 2-mile ridgewalk alongside Pate Hollow. As you descend the ridge, you'll see the lake ahead. In the next 3.5 miles, the trail winds back into hollows four times, crossing bottomlands and some small exposed rocky bluffs. Stay on the trail to finish the loop, or rejoin the old road near the trail's midpoint to catch a glimpse of a unique eastern wildflower, the 6-foot-tall American Columbo.
Info: (812) 275-5987; www.fs.fed.us/r9/hoosier
Event and membership info: www.hoosierhikerscouncil.org
-Hike provided by the Hoosier Hikers Council
Location: 39.0917329, -86.4233065
Paynetown State Recreation Area