Central Indiana Birding Opportunities - Pine Hills Nature Preserve

Pine Hills Nature Preserve is a special gem in west central Indiana.

Kentucky Warbler Pine Hills Nature Preserve Birding

This 470-acre tract is the first dedicated nature preserve in Indiana. It was given to the State of Indiana by The Nature Conservancy in 1961 and dedicated in 1969. The deep canyons, honeycomb rocks, and streams harbor an assortment of deep woods nesting birds and provide a beautiful hike for anyone traversing this rugged terrain.

While Indiana does not have mountains, one may feel we do after walking the long stairs and up and down to the canyon bottom. Non-intrusive trails zig zag through rocky streams, and follow rocky ridge-lines, so birders will want to be prepared for varied hiking conditions and to watch their footing throughout the hike. But for those that venture, you can be rewarded with both sights and sounds.

The trails are best at spring and fall migration, when an assortment of neo-tropical migrants can be found moving through the dense surrounding forest. High ridges, such as the Devil’s Backbone can offer near eye level views of more treetop species, such as Northern Parula and Scarlet Tanager. Historically, the pines and eastern hemlock have harbored summering Blackburnian Warblers; only one of two dependable locations in the state. The other being the Indiana Dunes. Additionally, Wood Thrush, Kentucky Warbler, Ovenbirds, and Worm-eating Warblers can reliably be found during the summer months.

eBird Hotspot Link:
Eagle Creek Park: ebird.org/hotspot/L157179

Total Birding Time:
1-2 hours

Best Times to Bird: 
Pine Hills is best birded during the songbird migration, but early summer birding can yield many deep woods forest breeding birds.



Address: 7751 S. 890 W, Waveland, IN 47989
Directions: State Road 47, out of Crawfordsville will take you to State Road 234 which will take you west into Shades State Park. Total time is approximately 25 minutes.
Hours: Regular park hours are 7 a.m.-11 p.m. 
Ownership: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of Nature Preserves
Admission: Indiana State Park entrance fees apply as it’s located within Shades State Park. $7 in-state vehicles, $9 out of state vehicles. No gate fees in certain off-season weekdays.
Restrictions: During busy summer periods the trails can be crowded with hikers. Portions of this trail are steep, and cross hazardous areas. These areas are marked, and caution should be used, especially if children are with you.
Parking: A special access trail exists for the Pine Hills Nature Preserve.
Nearby Amenities: Shades State Park has ample restrooms throughout, and modern facilities can be found near the campground. Food, lodging, and gas can all be found 15 minutes away in Crawfordsville.
Accessibility: Due to the nature of the geology and terrain, Pine Hills is not ADA accessible.
Website: stateparks.in.gov
Phone Number: (765) 435-2810

Written by: Brad Bumgardner
Photo by:
Jeff Timmons