Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Fountain

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Fountain

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Portland,  Indiana

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Portland, Indiana

little Indiana and family headed to Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Fountain, Indiana.

This is absolutely a lovely area–and the perfect place to spend an afternoon!

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Fountain, Indiana

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Portland, Indiana

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Portland, Indiana

Driving to the nature preserve, traveling through this small Indiana town, I was expecting big signs and a place to get a tag for the car. But in reality? You just pull up, park, and go!

Yes, this Fountain County treasure is a freebie outdoor activity–293 acres of forest fun that was once home to a resort and even a boy scout camp! Those days are long since past. Today there’s only about .8 of a mile walking loop.

We were not dressed for hiking. We were dressed for a day of little Indiana-ing that does not usually include forest trails. In other words? Semi-nice clothing and flip flops. I’m sure we looked like we came straight from the city! Isn’t that a hoot!

Fountain, Indiana Nature Preserve

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Portland, Indiana

Portland Arch Nature Preserve in Portland, Indiana

But we were all determined to see how far we could get before our lack of supportive footwear and bug spray would make us turn around. Turns out we got pretty far, much farther than we thought we would.

Our boys were thrilled with the trail–especially when we crossed a small bridge over Bear Creek.

As we progressed onward, the trees became more dense and we reached an interesting and big rock formation. The muddy dog that passed us should have been the giveaway. Yes, little Indiana and family were forced to turn around. The game was called on account of mud: squishy, soggy, squelching mud!

Go There

Absolutely you should take advantage of this awesome trail! Although we didn’t get far enough to see it, we heard that you will see different ecosystems played out here. It’s a peaceful and fun change of pace for sure. Just follow the signs on the trail and you’ll be fine! If you need to know the rules, check out the image on the left.

Small Towns: Destinations, not Drive-Thrus! I’m Jessica Nunemaker and THIS is little Indiana!

Just don’t forget to tell ’em that  little Indiana sent you!

Portland Arch Nature Preserve
N Portland Arch Road
Fountain, Indiana 47932

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About the Author:

Jessica Nunemaker is the Owner of Little Indiana.com. More than a website, Little Indiana is a book, "Little Indiana: Small Town Destinations" (IU Press) awarded first place in the "Best in Indiana Journalism for a Nonfiction Book" by the Indiana Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Little Indiana is also a bi-monthly newspaper column in a local paper and a PBS segment on the former Emmy award-winning program, "The Weekly Special."


  1. Jessica Nunemaker April 30, 2015 at 9:38 pm

    Wow! That’s so interesting! Thank you SO MUCH for sharing! I plan to bring the family back here again to tromp around the trail when it warms up a bit. They will LOVE to hear about this one!

  2. D. Rhoades March 20, 2015 at 9:09 am

    In the 1960s I belonged to a Scout troop in Potomac Illinois that was in the council that operated Portland Arch. We used it for troop camping trips as well as the summer camp. There were a few permanent structures, including a kitchen/dining hall and quarters for camp staff, but most of the property was left in a natural state. Portland Arch didn’t have a swimming pool, so the creek was dammed with sand bags covered with a tarp to get a large enough impoundment for swimming classes. Now and then a sand bag would roll off the top of the dam and the swimmers would all bear a hand in picking it up and putting it back in place. On reflection, that methodology probably did not meet OSHA standards. Aside from the arch, Tecumseh’s Cave was one of the highlights of Portland Arch geological/historical lore. The story that was handed down to me said that Tecumseh was being chased by enemies and hid in the cave. The enemies watched the cave mouth and Tecumseh found another exit and went out the back way, surviving to fight again. As I recall the cave, there were two openings, not more than 10-15 feet from one another, so judge for yourself. Another interesting artifact in the area is the old canal that once ran parallel to the Wabash River. The 19th century was all about canals until steam and railroads came along. In the 60s you could still see the canal bed in the village of Fountain.

  3. Jessica Nunemaker January 7, 2015 at 11:14 pm

    Ha ha! I can just imagine the talk about a cave. Neat! Thanks for sharing your memories!

  4. Don Cosat December 5, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    During the 1950’s we used to make a small pilgrimage in October of every year to skinny-dip in the creek at Portland Arch. Sort of a rite of passage to brave the cold water. I believe it was a boy scout camp then, but didn’t know the creek had a name. I remember a cave somewhere in the area that we called Tecumseh Cave- not very large but mysterious enough to generate plenty of stories about hidden entrances etc. I am glad to see the area has been preserved; it is beautiful.

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