Morgan-Monroe State Forest: Glory and Hardwoods in Martinsville, Indiana

The Morgan-Monroe State Forest resides on the southern edge of Martinsville, Indiana and spans the Morgan and Monroe counties. This vast expanse of natural beauty consists of 24,000 acres, making it the second-largest Indiana state forest.

The Morgan-Monroe State Forest was created in 1929 by the state. Its rocky soil was poor for agriculture and erosion was beginning to set in. The state bulit the Civilian Conservations Corps camp there in 1933, the first of its kind in Indiana. The Morgan-Monroe State Forest has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1999, and a trip to its halls of nature is a favorite thing to do in Martinsville, one of Martinsville’s top attractions and an important Martinsville park space.

The impressive collection of deciduous trees within the Morgan-Monroe State Forest makes it one of the finest displays of hardwoods in the country. Hunting and fishing are popular activities in this bountiful state forest, and registered overnight camping is available for a nominal fee in the Mason Ridge and Oak Ridge Campgrounds.

Inside this priceless greenspace are three lakes, the Bryant Creek Lake, Cherry Lake and Prather Lake. All offer fishing, and boat ramps can be found in Bryant Creek and Cherry Lake, though no swimming is allowed. Picnicking and shelters exist for the public’s use, and there are playgrounds, too. The shelters are free to use, for whichever group gets there first. Hiking trails abound, but visitors are well-advised to wear bright clothes during hunting season.

Want to stay in a 100-year-old primitive cabin while you’re enjoying the Morgan-Monroe State Forest? The Draper Cabin will take you back to the days before cellphones and electricity. There’s no running water or furniture, but there is a fireplace where you can cook. As many as fourteen guests can spend the night in Draper Cabin.

The Morgan-Monroe State Park remains one of the very few locales left in the United States where one can actually pan for gold. You need a permit, but it’s free.

Here’s a fun video of people panning for gold, and finding some specks, in the Morgan-Monroe State Park in Martinsville, Indiana.


Highlights of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest also include the Stepp Cemetery, dating back to the 1800s. Thrill-seekers come from all over Central Indiana, including Indianapolis, to poke around this eerie place. There is rumor of a haunting at this cemetery by a woman referred to only as The Black Lady, whose infant son died in the 1930s in a tragic accident. The unfortunate woman’s ghost is said to remain to this day by the gravesite of her baby.

Get a feel for the Stepp Cemetery in this spooky video of its premises.


According to some stories, visitors to the cemetery might have the frightening experience of being chased away by The Black Lady’s ghost. Other ghosts in the cemetery supposedly chase visitors too; there have been “sightings” of dead road workers and a dead teenager whose ghosts reside still in the lonely place and get riled up at the appearance of the living.

Read more about the many other haunted places of Indiana

Morgan-Monroe State Forest
6220 Forest Rd
Martinsville, IN 46151
Fax: 765.342.4505

Visit the Morgan-Monroe State Forest website

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