Why You Should Visit
The Brock-Sampson-Hardin Ridge natural area offers rugged terrain with high ridge tops and super steep slopes that give way to deep ravines. This preserve complex is part of the Knobstone Escarpment, a geologic region in the south-central part of the state that is sometimes referred to as "the little mountains of Indiana." This nature preserve is found in Floyd County, famous for its “knobs” that escaped the leveling effect of glaciers. Here steep valleys dissect the land and the natural relief can be 450 feet or more. The knobs of Floyd County are one of the few places in Indiana where Virginia pine is native and it intermingles with chestnut oak on the ridge tops to yield a gnarled, weather-worn appearance to the high points of this landscape.
Interior Low Plateau
1,721 Acres (Hardin Ridge)
580 Acres (Brock-Sampson)
State Nature Preserve, 1989 (Brock-Sampson only). The nature preserve has recently been renamed from Brock-Sampson to Sherman Minton Nature Preserve in honor of the late herpetologist, Dr. Sherman Minton, Jr. who was born and raised in New Albany and contributed immensely to our understanding of reptiles and amphibians in Indiana.
Owned & Managed By
Division of Nature Preserves
Indiana Department of Natural Resources' Division of Fish & Wildlife
What The Nature Conservancy is Doing/has Done
The Nature Conservancy and the IDNR's Divisions of Nature Preserves (DNP) and Fish & Wildlife (DFW) cooperated to preserve and protect this vast natural area. While the Conservancy and the DNP are protecting the oak-covered ridges and scattered Virginia pine forests, the DFW has preserved a hunting area close to Louisville, Kentucky. Already one of the largest natural areas in Indiana, this partnership continues to add protected land to this 2,490 acre area. The Nature Conservancy uses our unique Forest Bank program at the site to manage forestland owned by the New Albany-Floyd County Parks Department at the Campbell Woodland Nature Trails park.
Update:Indiana Chapter Acquires 190 Additional Acres at Brock-Sampson – Hardin Ridge Nature Preserve (2012)
Protection of this 190-acre tract contributes directly to the integrity of the Appalachian Low Elevation Mixed Pine Forest and the Chestnut Oak forest types at Brock-Sampson - Hardin Ridge, as this tract has good examples of both forest types. Native stands of Virginia pine are a significant ecological and visual element of this tract. This property’s location in the larger forest block also provides excellent habitat for interior forest breeding birds such as hooded, worm-eating and cerulean warblers, all of which have been documented at Brock Sampson - Hardin Ridge.
What to See: Plants and Animals
The Knobstone Escarpment is known for its oak-covered ridges and sometimes treeless slopes due to being so steep. Extremely xeric (dry) conditions allow the growth of rare plants like Indiana's only native cactus, the prickly pear. Plan a hike during the first two weeks of June to capture their pretty greenish-yellow flowers in bloom. Other colorfully-named plant species include Deam's beardtongue, scaly gayfeather, birdfoot violet, Harvey’s buttercup, and rattlesnake hawkweed.
Hardin Ridge is the larger of the two preserves. A clear perennial stream runs through the central valley, supporting a healthy population of minnows. No large-scale tree cutting has occurred on the land since the 1930's, creating an almost true wilderness setting. Large Kentucky coffee tree, deer and wild turkey can be seen in this area. What you will not notice is the sights and sounds of the modern world as the closest road is a mile away and the steep valley isolates such distractions.
Brock-Sampson lies just to the south of Hardin Ridge, separated by a ridgeline and Blunk Knob Road. The central valley at the preserve boasts a fine array of wildflowers including hepatica, drooping trillium, dwarf iris and the rare creeping cucumber, among many more. Seasonal waterfalls can also be found at the head of the valley.
The rugged terrain and lack of established trails makes hiking the Brock-Sampson-Hardin Ridge preserves quite an adventure. Prepare with a compass, appropriate hiking wear and plenty of water. Since the area is so remote, always let someone know where you are going and when you expect to return.
Hunting, when in season, is allowed at Hardin Ridge and neighboring lands. Avoid hiking during the fall gun season and always wear bright colors if you do visit the preserves during the hunting season.
For More Information
Brock-Sampson: From New Albany, travel south on S.R 111 for 6 miles. Turn right heading west on Sevenmile Lane and continue for 1 mile. The road curves along the base of a hill. As the road makes a sudden left turn, there is a small drive that continues straight. Follow the drive and park along it.
Hardin Ridge: From New Albany, travel south on S.R. 111 for 5 miles. Turn right heading west on Fivemile Lane, which turns into Budd Road after approximately 2 miles. Continue on Budd Road 0.5 mile passing Blunk Knob Road and New Albany Fraternal Order of Police. Look for a pull off on the left side of the road next to a gate and park. Please be careful not to block the gate.