Indiana might not be the first state that comes to mind when someone mentions hiking, but that’s because they haven’t explored all of the cool places to hike here! From the rugged hills of Brown County State Park to the peaceful woods near where I grew up, there’s a trail for everyone here in The Hoosier State. So, pack a picnic lunch and your hiking boots and get ready to explore some of the best trails Indiana has to offer!
Dunes State Park and National Park
The Indiana Dunes are an area rife with hiking trails. Between the two parks, there’s about 70 miles of them! Take a hike up the dunes for some spectacular views of Lake Michigan. The 3 dune challenge will really get your heart pumping. If you’re not up for climbing dunes, check out the trails that lead you along Coffee Creek, through black oak savanna, or over the many wetland areas.
Turkey Run State Park
Aptly nicknamed the grand canyon of Indiana, Turkey Run never disappoints. Wind your way through twisting canyons and hollows, climb the cliff wall on the ladder trail, or search for the waterfall on trail 9. There is seriously a never ending list of things to do and see here. With 11 trails to choose from, it’s great place to hike in Indiana with the entire family.
Cross a historic bridge to hike the Rose Island loop through the remnants of an abandoned 1920’s amusement park. Descend into ravines for a tranquil hike and enjoy beautiful views of this sweet spot! Follow winding trails high up on bluffs where breathtaking views can be seen in every direction including across the flowing waters of Fourteenmile Creek. In springtime, you’ll find wildflowers abundant along the trails as well as in surrounding woods with vibrant colors exploding around them against nature’s backdrop
Home of the Hell’s Point Challenge. Adventure through deep hardwood and pine forests. Listen to the sounds of the wetland wildlife buzzing and splashing about as you hike through the marshland or wooded swamp. Climb the fire tower for epic views across the land. If you’re especially adventurous, take on the Hell’s Point Challenge, a rugged, 8-mile hike through the entire park.
Hike the stone cliffs around an old quarry whose crystal clear water makes you feel like you’re in the tropics rather than mid-Indiana. From the top of the cliffs, you can catch a glimpse of the prehistoric paddlefish who call the quarry home. Follow the trail through the woods and around the lake for more great vantage points. On the other side of the park, you’ll find more wooded trails, some with a creek, and the France Park waterfall.
Hoosier National Forest
Day hike the hemlock cliffs to witness the cliffs, ravines, and waterfalls. Or backpack around the Charles Deam wilderness and catch the sunset on Monroe Lake. This forest is a great place to see the fall colors. There are over 260 miles worth trails that await you within Hoosier National Forest, so pack your hiking boots and go explore!
Brown County State Park
Brown County State Park is a must-see for adventurers of all sorts. There are varying trails to choose from, steep and rugged trails, to short paved ones. If you’re looking to get your blood pumping, most trails are connectable. Try combining several trails into a larger, all day loop. There are more than a handful of scenic vistas and viewpoints throughout the park, many of which are nearby the hiking trails. Be sure to check out sunrise or sunset at Hesitation Point (pictured, and my favorite viewpoint)!
Cowles Bog, Indiana Dunes
You’ll encounter many habitats along this ecologically diverse trail. After you cross the boardwalk that leads you into the trail, you encounter various wetlands. Take your time walking, and you’ll see some of the many creatures who call Cowle’s Bog home. Slowly, the bog will give way to the trees and dune, and you’ll find yourself climbing in hardwood forest where you’ll be met with picturesque views of the lake. As the trees turn to grasses, you’ll descend down to a secluded beach for lunch before making your way back.
Spicer Lake Nature Preserve
Tucked away in a little town called New Carlisle, you’ll find the quiet and serene Spicer Lake Nature Preserve. It’s rarely busy, more often than not you’ll find you have the place all to yourself. There are a few trails that guide you through wooded area and wetland. If you’re a wetland lover or love spotting wildlife, the boardwalk trail is not to be missed here.
Potato Creek State Park
With a mix of harder and easy trails, this is a good park to hike in Indiana either alone or with the family. Hike through the gently climbing hills in the forest, have lunch overlooking the water on the viewing deck of trail 3, or hike around the lake and through the woods on trail 4. If you’re lucky, you can even catch the resident bald eagles catching their meal over the lake.
There are so many different places to hike in Indiana. Each one offers some new experience or point of interest that will make your outing feel fresh and exciting. You can find hikes with the perfect balance of forest, wetlands, prairies, lakeside views, waterfalls, caves – you name it! Whether you’re looking for a quick day trip or an all-day excursion into nature’s wonders – there is something out there just waiting for you to explore it. What have been your favorite hiking spots?