Updated: Aug 2
There is SO much more to Indiana, and I'm hoping at least one of the trails below will be new to you! Spoiler alert, none of them are in Turkey Run. Turkey Run is a beautiful park and rightfully belongs among the top 10 state parks to visit in the entire country, but I'm guessing someone's already recommended you visit there.
If you only have a few chances to hike this summer, these are the trails I would make a priority to see:
The Peninsula Trail in Charles C. Deam Wilderness Area. Without a doubt, Hoosier National Forest is my favorite place to hike in Indiana. It's unlike anything else. It's impressive, expansive, and rivals picturesque forests in Michigan and Tennessee. If you're looking to challenge yourself, the 10-mile Peninsula Trail is an excellent out-and-back hike, and is rightly the most popular hike in Hoosier National Forest. Like I said though, this forest is unlike anything else in Indiana. There's hundreds of miles of trails, little cell service, and people have even gotten lost here. Come prepared with a map, whether paper or downloaded offline, and extra food and water, just in case. I personally recommend you bring a camp stove and hammock and make an entire day out of the Peninsula Trail hike! I've had the Fire Maple camp stove for 3 years, and I use it on almost every hike to make coffee or hot chocolate.
The Rock Shelter Trail in Morgan-Monroe State Forest. This state forest is a gem that I visit at least once a year. And this 3-mile trail that follows a creek bed rivals the beauty you find at Turkey Run and Shades State Park, but with way less foot traffic. This trail is so rarely used that sometimes it doesn't look like a trail, and having a map downloaded offline is essential to having the best experience here. Since this trail follows a creek bed with layers of loose rocks, I would recommend wearing sturdy waterproof hiking boots as opposed to water sandals. The lush ravines and intriguing rock formations on this trail will make you completely forget that it's only an hour outside of Indianapolis.
Fern Cliff Nature Preserve. This tiny nature preserve tucked away in Putnam County isn't so much a hike as it is a place to wander, explore, and absorb some of nature's beauty. Fern Cliff Nature Preserve is exactly what it claims to be - the 1-mile out-and-back trail wanders down to the base of a giant rock formation covered in vibrant ferns and glowing green moss. According to AllTrails, "its unique vegetation makes the preserve a botanist's floral paradise." Hands down, it's a beautiful spot that's worth a visit. If you need to get a workout in on the way home, the DePauw Nature Park's 520 acres and over 10 miles of trails are just a short drive away.
Kokiwanee Nature Preserve is home to my favorite waterfall in Indiana, Kissing Falls. You can either park in the south parking lot that bumps up right next to the falls, or park in the ACRES Land Trust parking lot and take the 3-mile loop trail that winds down to the falls. This trail is more challenging than meets the eye, and you should be prepared to get dirty scrambling up and down a couple steep inclines/declines. You'll be rewarded at Kissing Falls, where you can dip your feet into a crystal clear pool at the base of the waterfall.
Scarce O' Fat Trail in Yellowwood State Forest. This 5.7-mile loop trail is rated as one of the best hikes in Brown County, but you won't find it in the heavily trafficked Brown County State Park. This trail is in Yellowwood State Forest, a quiet oasis for fishing and hiking. This trail features the lake overlooks, deep forested hollows, and challenging ridge climbs that Brown County is famous for - with a fraction of the foot traffic. When I went on a crisp Fall morning, I saw no one. If you've been to Brown County State Park, you know how busy this area can be. This trail is truly a hidden gem, and has beautiful views in every season.
The Red Trail at Eagle Creek Park. I had originally planned to include only 5 trails here, but I can't write about the best trails in Indiana without mentioning Eagle Creek Park in northwest Indianapolis. It has hiking trails, it has kayaking, it has an adventure park, it has an Ornithology Center where you can visit rescued birds of prey. The staff at Eagle Creek are consistently putting out new programs for families of all ages, including the annual Owl Fest and Iron Eagle Paddle Run. The red trail is a 6-mile loop that encompasses all the best views of Eagle Creek Reservoir. If you want to plan a picnic and a fun-filled summer day for you or your family, there is always something to do at Eagle Creek!
I hope at least one of these trails are new to you, and you have a new place to explore in Indiana this summer! If you try one of these trails, let me how it goes via email or on Instagram @sarahscozylife. I