Scarlet Oak Woods

Named for the scarlet oak trees that display brilliant red fall colors, this nature preserve protects a mature, high-quality upland forest that borders a unit of the Morgan-Monroe State Forest, the Mt. Gilead Friends Retreat, and the Danny Smith II neighborhood. A short trail follows a ridge that runs the length of the property, with deep valleys on either side. Stephens Creek runs through the eastern valley.

Wildflowers found here include Guyandotte beauty, which is on the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ endangered plants watch list. Sycamore staff and volunteers are working to remove invasive garlic mustard and vinca to protect the habitat for this and other native plants.

The first 66 acres of Scarlet Oak Woods was donated anonymously in 2002. In 2016, the size of the preserve was doubled thanks to bargain sale gifts from another anonymous donor, George Bull and Faye Mark, and Bill and Lorraine Hanna, with funding from the Indiana Bicentennial Nature Trust.


  • From the intersection of SR 45 E and Smith Rd in Bloomington, go east on SR 45 through New Unionville for 4.3 mi.
  • Turn right on Viking Ridge Rd and go to trail access at end of the road.
  • Park on the pavement at the end of the road; do not park in the gravel lot, which is private property.
  • County: Monroe
  • Acres: 123
  • Features: beautiful ridgeline, creek valley, barred owls, wood thrushes
  • Years acquired: 2002, 2016
  • Acquired with gifts from: Anonymous (2), Bicentennial Nature Trust, George Bull and Faye Mark, Bill and Lorraine Hanna
  • Trail: 0.5 mile, moderate
  • Parking capacity: Trail access is at the end of the road. Park at the dead end of Viking Ridge Road. Three cars can fit at this location. Do not park in our neighbor’s gravel pull-off.