Southeast Indiana Birding Opportunities - Yellowwood State Forest

Yellowwood State Forest has a broad diversity of habitats that include mixed hardwoods, stands of pine (various species), and both riparian and lake habitats.

Yellowwood State Forest Indiana Birding Trail

The landscape consists of the typical hills and ravines of south-central Indiana and Yellowwood State Forest has a rich avifauna. Birding can be productive at any time of the year.

Early spring (mid-April to early May) is a prime time to visit Yellowwood State Forest and the locally breeding warblers are a main attraction, with specialties including Hooded, Worm-eating, Cerulean, Prothonotary, and Kentucky, with small numbers of Black-throated Green also in the area. It is possible to see 16 or 17 species of breeding warblers on a hike in Yellowwood State Forest with 10 to 12 other species possible during migration. Summer obviously offers the lure of these same breeding species, with both Summer & Scarlet Tanagers around as well as both Baltimore and Orchard Orioles (especially around Yellowwood Lake).

Fall migration presents not only the above-mentioned species but late in the fall, Golden Eagle is a distinct possibility. One or two Golden Eagles frequently spend the winter in the area and, in the pine stands especially, kinglets can be found, and it is not difficult to find Winter Wren, Hermit Thrush and Brown Creeper.

There are numerous trails in the Yellowwood State Forest, including a 4.5-mile loop trail around Yellowwood Lake, the 4.7-mile Scarce O’ Fat Loop trail, and several other shorter trails. It is also a good strategy to bird directly from Yellowwood Lake Road (on which there are a number of small pull-offs) north of the lake as well as Dubois Ridge Rd., the former of which goes directly past Yellowwood Lake and both of which run north-south through Yellowwood State Forest. Both roads are gravel and have limited traffic.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
2-4 hours away.

Best Times to Bird: 
Spring and fall migration offer the best birding, but summer breeding species can make the state forest worth a visit.


Yellowwood State Forest Office
772 South Yellowwood Lake Road
Nashville, IN 47448

Hours: Open 24/7, with camping available around Yellowwood Lake
Ownership: State owned
Admission: No fees for visiting/hiking
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations.
Parking: Several parking areas around Yellowwood Lake, small lots along Yellowwood Lk. Rd.
Nearby Amenities: In Brown County, 9 miles w. of Nashville, 16 miles e. of Bloomington; camping, fishing, boating available at Yellowwood Lake.
Accessibility: No paved trails.
Phone Number: (812) 988-7945

Written by: Susan & Jim Hengeveld
Photo by:
Heather Doty