The forest consists of three separate tracts covering portions of eight sections of land. The terrain varies from flat bottomland areas along Richland Creek (which flows diagonally from northeast to southwest the entire length of the forest) to relatively steep hillsides. Generally the topography is gently rolling and broken by small draws and streams.
Native trees in the forest include white, red, black, bur, post, pin, shingle and chinquapin oaks; ash; hickory; sugar and silver maple; sycamore; black walnut; and cottonwood. Plantations of native and introduced species include white, red and scotch pine; red cedar; sweet gum, butternut; tulip poplar; black locust; and cottonwood. In addition, many other shrubs and minor individual species of trees are located throughout the forest.
White and scotch pine seed orchards are managed for the production of superior seed for use at the state tree nurseries. White pine cones are collected in August before the cones open and the seeds are allowed to fall out. Volunteer groups help collect scotch pine cones in the fall. Many different types of seeds and nuts are collected throughout the forest and sent to the state nurseries for processing and planting.
Thinning of some of the pine plantations has begun, with the thinned areas used for wildlife food and cover plantings. Eliminated trees are "chipped" and the shredded wood is spread on the forest trails. A demonstration pine management area shows the desired thinning and pruning process to be carried out in a pine plantation.
Management goals also include the growing of hardwoods, such as oak and black walnut. A forest improvement demonstration area shows the types of trees which would be removed in properly managed woodlands. Several areas are being managed for black walnut production using corrective pruning and vegetation control. Six experimental burn plots are maintained to show the effects of prescribed fire in a wood. See Forestry Site
Some of the forest property, when first acquired, showed the detrimental effects of erosion. Immediate steps were initiated to reduce the ravages to the topsoil. Reforestation, terracing, grass seeding, sodding and toe wall construction are practices in use at Hidden Springs to stabilize the soil. Close cooperation with the Soil Conservation Service’s technical personnel has been beneficial.
Many local attractions surroundi Hidden Springs State Forest. Please visit the Lake Shelbyville Visitor's Bureau website for details.