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Fern Cliff

Fern Cliff and its sandstone cliffs have long been a popular Indiana refuge.

Why You Should Visit 

Steep forested, sandstone cliffs, lush wooded ravines, and a profusion of ferns and bryophytes characterize this popular preserve. Its unique vegetation makes the preserve a botanists’ floral paradise.


Putnam County


Interior Low Plateau


157 Acres


State Nature Preserve, 1988 & 1996


National Natural Landmark, 1980

Owned & Managed By

The Nature Conservancy


Department of Nature Preserves, Indiana Heritage Trust and the Joe. C. Emerson Memorial Fund 

What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done

The Nature Conservancy staff, along with our devoted volunteer stewards, work to stem the invasion of autumn olive (Elaeagnus umbellata), an exotic species threatening to crowd out native plant species.

What to See: Plants and Animals

Rare bryophytes and ferns that occur here have made this site exciting to botanists, both professional and amateur alike. Sphagnum moss is slowly filling an abandoned sandstone quarry in the northern part of the preserve while other species of mosses and liverworts can be found on cliff walls and the forest floor. Mayapples, Jack-in-the-pulpit, blue phlox and yellow celandine poppy can also be found the the woodland's understory.

The preserve is open for hiking - a trail does exist on the preserve - photography, and bird watching on its moderate to rugged terrain. Rock climbing and rappelling are not allowed. Please note that the preserve is gated to keep vehicles out. Simply walk around the gate. For more information please consult the Conservancy’s Preserves Visitation Guidelines.


From Greencastle: From the southeast corner of the Courthouse, go south on Jackson one block to Walnut Street. Go west (right) on Walnut (which becomes County Rd. 125S) approximately four miles. Turn south on County Rd. 500W (which will become 525W, 550W, and 600W) approximately three miles to County Rd. 375S. Turn west (right) to the Fern Cliff entrance (approximately one mile).

From U.S. 40: Go north on County Rd. 625W through Pleasant Garden and Reelsville to County Rd. 650W (approximately one mile). Turn right on County Rd. 650W (becomes County Rd. 625W) and proceed (approximately two miles) to a dead end at County Rd. 500S. Turn east (right) on County Rd. 500S to County Rd. 600W (approximately 0.2 mile). Turn north (left) on County Rd. 600W. After approximately 1.4 miles County Rd. 600N will turn west and become County Rd. 375S. Proceed west on County Rd. 375S for approximately one mile to the Fern Cliff entrance.


Have you been to this preserve? Are you thinking of visiting? See what others are saying about their experiences and add your comments below.

Add Your Comments

Time for you to join the discussion. Tell us about your experience at this preserve. What plants and animals did you see? When did you go? You can help others plan their visit when you share your thoughts. And thank you for visiting one of our nature preserves!

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