Charles C. Deam Wilderness

Area Status: Open
This area is Open

Charles C. Deam Wilderness

The Charles C. Deam Wilderness offers 36 miles of trails for hiking, backpacking, and horse riding through scenic hardwood forest and varied terrain with views of nearby Monroe Lake. The area was designated a wilderness in 1982 and encompasses nearly 12,953 acres of the Hoosier National Forest. Wilderness designation places this area in a special legal status (subject to the 1964 Wilderness Act). It is managed to preserve a natural condition and provide opportunities for solitude.

Since its designation as a wilderness, visitor use in the area increased to a point that significant damage was occurring. Special restrictions are in place to protect the wilderness character. Visitors to this special place are asked to follow these restrictions to lessen your impact and share responsibility in preserving this unique natural resource.

Visitors should be aware that due to Monroe Lake’s purpose of flood control, water levels fluctuate and some campsites may experience flooding and be unusable for periods of time.

At a Glance

Permit Info: Horse riders age 17 years and older require a trail use permit
Usage: Heavy
  • No wheeled vehicles including carts, wagons and bicycles, or motorized travel is allowed.
  • Mechanized equipment, including generators, is prohibited.
  • Camping within 100 feet of ponds, Monroe Lake, trails, or streams is allowed only in designated sites.
  • Camping is restricted within 300 feet of designated trailheads, wilderness access points, horse camps and Tower Ridge Road adjacent to Deam Wilderness.
  • Geocaching is prohibited.
  • Horse riders must stay on designated trails. Horse riders must have a permit.
  • Park only in designated areas. Do not park along Tower Ridge Road.
  • Campsites must be occupied the first night, and may not be left unattended for more than 24 hours without permission. Camping is limited to 14 days.
  • Target shooting or practicing is not allowed.
  • Stock may not be tied within reach of any living tree.
  • Group size is limited to 10 persons or less.
Closest Towns: Bloomington, IN
Water: none
Restroom: Vault Toilets at nearby Blackwell Horse Camp and Brooks Cabin Wilderness Welcome Center
Operated By: Brownstown Ranger District

General Information


From east State Route 46 in Bloomington, take State Route 446 south to Tower Ridge Road. You will see a sign for the Charles C. Deam Wilderness and the Maumee Boy Scout Camp. This gravel road is after the lake and on the left as you are heading south. The Wilderness boundary begins just a few hundred feet down this road and continues for several miles.

Please get a map before visiting this area, as the boundaries are not clearly marked. 

General Notes:

Additional Resources

Welcome Center

Before you enter the Wilderness, stop by the Welcome Center at Brooks Cabin. Here you can learn why a federally designated Wilderness area is a special place with special rules.

Best Practices for Wilderness Recreation

To reduce natural and cultural resource damage, erosion and maintain wilderness character:

Prevent trail damage - avoid trail use when muddy. Stay in the middle of wet areas. Never make detours or cut throughs.

Trail braiding

Damage from user detours.

Protect historical sites. This land was previously inhabited by Native Americans and early European settlers. Practice Leave It As You Find it, and do not move or remove artifacts.

Illegal makeshift hut.

An historic homesite illegally turned into a makeshift hut.

The Deam Wilderness has 25 designated campsites marked with small signs and a site number. All other campsites must set up at least 100 feet from water and trails, and 300 feet from trailheads. User-made sites too close to the water cause erosion and degrade the wilderness experience.

Signage at a campsite.

Signage marks designated sites.

Avoid building rock structures or leaving evidence of your visit in order to preserve the Wilderness experience for everyone. Keep your campsite natural.

No Built Rings

Sites should appear as if no one was there.

Stay in areas already impacted - if possible use designated sites which have small rock fire rings and bare ground for your tent. When dispersed camping put the area back as you found it.

Rehabbed Fire Ring

Designated sites are designed to minimize impacts.

Bury human waste 6-8 inches and cover with soil. Travel at least 200 feet from water and other campsites to avoid creating a health hazard.

Group size is limited to 10 to preserve the Wilderness experience.

Use a fire blanket, fire pan, or camp stove to minimize impact. A small campfire has less impact on the environment, burns better and is easier to put out upon leaving.

Never cut live trees for firewood - gather small pieces of dead and downed wood away from your site. Remember the 4 D's - dead, down, dinky and at a distance.

Cut trees

Cutting live trees harms area resilience.

Carry out your trash instead of dumping it or burning it. Pack it in, pack it out.

campfire with glass

Trash is dangerous to wildlife and people.

Cars line the Tower Ridge road in violation of policy

Parking along Tower Ridge Road is not allowed.

Parking on or along Tower Ridge Road is prohibited. Park only in the lots provided at:

Deam Wilderness experiences heavy use, especially on nice weekends.  If parking areas are full, please consider an alternate location.  Some nearby areas for backpacking and dispersed camping include:

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information



Show detail SHOW

Horse Riding & Camping

Show detail SHOW

Nature Viewing

Show detail SHOW