Cedar Bluffs Nature Preserve
Cedar Bluffs Nature Preserve lies alongside the banks of Clear Creek and includes a limestone bluff that rises between the creek and one of its intermittent tributaries.
The trail begins on the east side of the road, meandering first through floodplain forest before approaching and then paralleling Clear Creek.
As you approach the creek, the trail becomes a challenging scramble over sharply slanted, unstable, muddy, and/or wet rocks. Tree roots and flood debris threaten your balance and ankles as you make your way along.
As you do so, the bluff and creek converge, so that the bluff seems to rise on your left. Still, there’s space between the bluff and the path for many spring wildflowers, including a nice patch of celandine poppy.
Continue until you reach the end of the bluff, then turn left and begin working your way around to its back side. The trail ascends via a couple of rocky and occasionally slick switchbacks. Clearance is low in spots, so watch your head.
Ferns and wildflowers cling to crevices and small pockets of soil along the bluff face. Keep an eye pealed for sharp-lobed hepatica (below), a very early spring wildflower whose delicate purple flowers rise on hairy stalks from a base of tri-lobed leaves; hepatica’s flowers are short-lived but its leaves last much of the year.
Also, watch for purple-stemmed cliffbrake, a rather primitive-looking fern with widely-spaced, sometimes grayish leaflets.
Before long, you’ll reach the top of the bluff, where excellent views of the surrounding countryside await. A profusion of paths meanders around the top, including a loop through a stand of the red cedar from which the property takes part of its name.
This scenic perch is a popular spot with folks from Bloomington and you are likely to have company. When leaving, retrace your steps.
Monroe County. From the traffic light at the intersection of IN 37 and Walnut/Old SR 37 on the south side of Bloomington, south about 1 mile on Old SR 37 to Ketcham Runaround, then right and right again on Ketcham. Continue 3.7 miles to a small parking pull off on the right under the high voltage power lines.
North 39 02.111 West 86 34.067
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Nearby Natural Areas
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 107
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
McPherson: Indiana Best Hikes; Page 356
McPherson: Nature Walks in Southern Indiana; Page 274
Nature Conservancy: Guide to Indiana Preserves; Page 38