This well-marked trail winds through typical Brown County hills and valleys with a couple of small stream crossings. The hike offers excellent views across wide valleys in the winter. At least one glacial erratic is visible from the trail, as are some artifacts such as an old well and a building foundation.
From the parking lot for the Laura Hare Preserve at Downey Hill, just off Valley Branch Road, hikers face three options: head straight down the Old Road Trail
, take a left up a narrow path to follow the North Loop Trail
clockwise, or take a right down into a valley, following the South Loop Trail
counter-clockwise. This hike heads north, following a ridgeline. You soon come across a small pond from an old farm. Near this pond there is a path that will bring you back to the Old Road Trail
through the center of the preserve. Follow the ridge further to the north, then descend into a creek valley. Cross the creek and then follow it for a while. If you keep your eyes peeled, across the creek you'll see the remains of an old well, fenced off to prevent people from accidentally falling in.
Cross the creek again, then head up a ravine. Keep your eyes open for a small boulder in the creek that is a very different type of rock than the shale you saw in the creek bed, maybe granite. This is one of the glacial erratics in the preserve. Soon you'll find yourself at the eastern end of the Old Road Trail
. Here you can take a shortcut directly back to the parking lot or continue along the South Loop Trail
. This loop is hillier than the northern loop, but offers many of the same views. About halfway through the southern part you'll cross another small creek then head up a steep hill to a ridge, where you'll find another old road that offers a shortcut back to the main Old Road Trail
that can take you back to the parking lot. Continuing on the trail will bring you down into a beautiful ravine before heading back up to the parking lot.