2020 Hike #21 on May 18th at Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Fountain County Indiana

52 Hike Challenge

General Info

Portland Arch Nature Preserve is managed by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. The GPS coordinates are 40°13′07″N 87°20′09″W.

Portland Arch Nature Preserve is a 435-acre nature preserve near the Wabash River in Fountain County, Indiana and is a National Natural Landmark. The preserve encompasses the wooded valleys, ravines and rocky cliffs around the lowest section of Bear Creek, which flows northwest toward the Wabash River. Its name comes from the nearby town of Fountain, which was originally named Portland, and from a natural sandstone bridge carved by a small tributary of Bear Creek. 

Portland Arch is one of only a few natural arches in Indiana. The arch was created through the Mansfield Sandstone by Bear Creek, undercutting the bluff on both sides. The sandstone was strong enough that it did not collapse. The Mansfield Sandstone is from the Pennsylvanian Period, some 230 million years ago. The cross stratification of the layers were formed in a shallow bottomed lake where it drops into deeper water. The slope reflects the change from the shallows into deeper water. Areas like this were used as rock shelters by Native Americans and early pioneers. Along the valley escarpment, talus rocks have fallen into the valley. Click here to find our more!

My visit

Tracy and I took advantage of a beautiful spring day by taking a roadtrip to Fountain County Indiana. Hike #21 did not disappoint! The Portland Arch Nature Preserve is beautiful. There are two separate trails to hike. The Portland Arch trail is 0.8 miles long, but don't be fooled by the short length. The trail can be challenging in places. The South Trail is just a bit down the road and is one mile long. We accidentally cut out part of the trail. The iPhone logged our hike at 1.5 miles for both trails.

The Portland Arch trail is the more interesting of the two trails. The "arch" is along this trail. This trail has you hiking along the Sandstone Cliffs, and takes you down to the banks of Bear Creek. There was also a waterfall that we captured during our hike! The trail takes you to the bottom of the Cliffs and then has you climbing back up to the top. The South trail is mostly woods, but it does take you down to Bear Creek. I did capture a wildflower that I had never seen before along the South trail called a "Yellow Lady's Slipper". Scroll down to see all of our pics and video from our hike! If you are interesting in seeing more of our Hike Blogs, click here.

Waterfall at Portland Arch Nature Preserve