Bedford, IN 47245
- 1.2 miles
- 30-45 mins
Hemlock Cliffs is a valley of special beauty in southern Indiana. A cool climate, created by the box canyon shape, sandstone rock formations, and seasonal waterfalls is responsible for the unique trees and plants that grow here.
Hemlock Cliffs has long been a popular destination for people seeking tranquility, and a chance for reflection from within a cool rock shelter or along the shady stream.
The area features, sandstone rock outcrops, overhangs, cliffs, rock shelters, and ravines. The rock you see is sandstone of the Tar Springs Formation. Much of the sandstone is "Honeycombed” by weathering of iron ores. Springs, small caves, and subterranean drainage conduits are in the underlying Glen Dean Limestone.
Lush vegetation is found along the cliffs, waterfalls and canyon floor. Hemlock, a tall evergreen with short needles and small cones, thrives in the canyon’s cool climate. Wintergreen, a protected plant, is also found here. While common in northern forests, this is only one of three populations of wintergreen left in Indiana. Wild geranium, French’s shooting star, mountain laurel, and liverwort are some of the other plants found here.
Archaeological excavations indicate Native American occupation as early as 10,000 years ago. The head of the canyon is a large, semi circular rock shelter, which undoubtedly provided cover and defense to the early occupants of this area.
A two-mile hiking trail leads you down into the canyon under a lush canopy of large trees, through rock shelters, and past high seasonal waterfalls. Parts of the trail are steep and slippery when wet, so use caution. It could take two leisurely hours to complete the loop.
In winter this area is especially beautiful after a snowfall or when cold temperatures freeze the waterfall. Use caution on ice or snowcovered trails.
Motorized vehicles are prohibited, except on designated roadways.
Foot traffic is restricted from some areas for resource protection.
Camping and campfires are prohibited in rock shelters
Rappelling is prohibited in designated area for resource protection
Violations are punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 and/or imprisonment for not more than 6 months.