Places We Protect

Brock Sampson-Hardin Ridge


A view of downtown Louisville, Kentucky, from Hardin Ridge in Floyd County, Indiana.
Hardin Ridge A view of downtown Louisville, Kentucky, from Hardin Ridge in Floyd County, Indiana. © Jesse Braun Budell

There are some places in our state that just don’t feel like Indiana. The Brock Sampson-Hardin Ridge Nature Preserve is one of those places.



Why You Should Visit

The Brock Sampson and Hardin Ridge natural area in Floyd County offers rugged terrain with high ridge tops and steep slopes that give way to deep ravines. This preserve complex is part of the Knobstone Escarpment, a geologic region 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.

Brock Sampson was dedicated as a State Nature Preserve in 1989. Hardin Ridge was dedicated as the Sherman Minton Nature Preserve in 2011 to honor 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.

What The Nature Conservancy is Doing

The Conservancy, 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 2,890-acre area. The Nature Conservancy uses our unique Forest Bank program at the site to manage forestland owned by the Floyd County Parks Department at the Campbell Woodland Nature Trails Park.

This work is done in partnership with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish & Wildlife, Floyd County Parks.




Trails are open year-round from dawn to dusk.


Hiking, birding, wildlife watching


2,280 Acres (Sherman Minton/Hardin Ridge); 610 Acres (Brock-Sampson)

Explore our work in this region

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 on neighboring lands. Always wear bright colors if you do visit the preserves during the hunting season.

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.

Sherman Minton 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 1930s, creating an almost true wilderness setting. Large Kentucky coffeetree, deer and wild turkey can be seen in this area. What you will not notice are 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 Sherman Minton Nature Preserve as is 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.