South Fork of Salt Creek
Through the Hoosier National Forest Dean Wilderness Area
The South Fork of Salt Creek trip (entirely within Hoosier National Forest) can begin at the
Combs Road bridge near Maumee in the wetter season. From this point to the Crooked Creek
launch ramp at Lake Monroe is about an 8+ hour trip. However, consider it an all day (10-12hr) trip to
enjoy the hiking and fishing along the way. We only launch this trip before 9:00am to allow for ample
A good hiking side trip is to pull up into dry (usually) oxbow on the east side of the stream
downstream of Robinson Cemetery and use a good topo map and compass to explore Bad Hollow.
The enormous white pines of Bad Hollow are some of the largest in Indiana. The sound of the wind
blowing through the tops of the pines and the contrasting utterly silent foot travel through the pine
needles is indescribable but must be experienced. Toward the north end of Bad Hollow is a deer
trail that goes up the west slope and intersects with an old fire trail on top of the ridge. Turn right and
follow the old fire trail uphill and you wind up at the top of Browning Mountain, which overlooks the
Middle Fork of Salt Creek Valley, Elkinsville, and the back side of Brown County State Park beyond
the valley. Go over the hill to the north facing side. See if you can find a sandstone grave marker for a
John House (Here Lies John House 1949-1956) a great resting place indeed.
Follow the ridge back to the creek and resume the paddling adventure through the South Fork
Marsh Waterfowl Resting Area, to the intersection of the Middle and South Forks of Salt Creek. Bear
to the left (west) and about 1/2 mile downstream look for the abutments and ruins of the historic old
Browning Bridge. As the story goes, the old bridge gave way under the load of a school bus full of
students back in the 1950's. The fishing happens to be superb around the old bridge ruins.
From Browning Bridge proceed downstream and you will pass numerous sloughs and backwaters
full of fish and deer in the early and late periods. Keep referring to your map supplied by MHAO as
the channels begin to intertwine in this area and navigation becomes somewhat confusing. Up the
Will Hay Branch is a nice, small lake constructed for waterfowl and wildlife.
Several good campsites exist at the base of Terrell Ridge along the creek. Verify availability of
sites with MHAO's staff. Camping gear is available through Most High Adventure Outfitters.
The conclusion of the trip can be a paddle due north to the Crooked Creek launching ramp. Or, if
you camped and want to continue, you can proceed around the point of Terrell Ridge and paddle on
to the Pine Grove Landing at Lake Monroe, which takes most of day two.
A True Indiana Wilderness Experience
10 to 12 hours
Elementary and up
ratings are based on a scale of 1 to 4
"a mind that is stretched by a new experience can never return
to its original dimensions". Oliver Holmes
Most High Adventure Outfitters - Indiana