The 9 Best Hiking Trails in Indiana!

Nature is one of the things Indiana does best. The Hoosier State is peppered with nature preserves, hiking trails, walking paths, and challenging terrain. Lace up your hiking boots and check out these 9 picks of Indiana's trails.

Brown County State Park, Brown County, IN

A popular fall destination for many Hoosiers is Brown County State Park located in the southern region of the state. As Indiana's largest state park, it boasts eight trails ranging from easy to rugged around two lakes and an amphitheater, as well as dozens of species of wildlife from all classes, including harmful reptiles and bugs. Just watch your step, spritz down with bug repellent, and enjoy. Fishing is also allowed with proper licensing in Ogle Lake and Jimme Strahl Lake, both encompassed by the hiking trails. Some of the trails are handicap accessible, but the more moderate and rugged trails involve built-in stairs.

Monon Trail, Central Indiana

Trail Link touts the Monon Trail as “a colossus in the world of Midwest rail-trails.”  Less of a nature hike and more of an urban sightseeing path, the 19-mile-long former railroad begins in Indianapolis and connects to Midland Trace Trail north of Westfield. Instead of habitats teeming with wildlife, you'll find happening spots teeming with nightlife, instead of canopies of trees, you'll find bridges and canopies of buildings, and instead of a learning center you'll find shopping centers. If you prefer smoother paved walkways instead of rocky and bumpy backwoods paths, then the Monon Trail is probably more your style.

Shades State Park, Waveland, IN

Sharing Sugar Creek and views of the sandstone cliffs surrounding with Turkey Run State Park, Shades State Park is a little milder with peaceful and inspiring views not impeded by fear of falling into a canyon … although you will want to watch out for “Devil's Punchbowl.”  Shades also shares Pine Hills Nature Preserve with a lengthy hiking trail of generally moderate terrain rewarded by stunning views. 

Clifty Falls State Park, Madison, IN

For those who want a little more octane in their hike, you might want to check out Clifty Falls State Park, whose mileage of hiking trails Kenny Loggins might call the “highway to the danger zone.” Geologically, Clifty Falls is a proverbial gold mine of formations and phenomena, up to and including ravines, gulches, and crevasses. And, thanks to the force of moving water, some areas of the trails periodically become downright impassable, causing park officials to close them due to extreme danger. Most of the trails in the park are moderately rugged with rocky footing or very rugged where it might help to have a little climbing equipment with you, but there is one easy trail that takes a three-quarter-mile loop beginning at the parking lot behind the in-park swimming pool.

Morgan-Monroe State Forest, Martinsville, IN

This state park features two moderate trails, Low Gap and Three Lakes, with smaller offshoots of easier difficulty. Morgan-Monroe State Forest is connected to the Hoosier Hikers Council, whose website describes not only Morgan-Monroe, but also 12 other trails and one nature preserve, so that would be worth checking out. Low Gap within the state forest is a good mix of easier and flatter with hilly moderate terrain, smaller loops making it possible to turn a 10-mile hike into a three-mile jaunt. Three Lakes is a little rougher of a terrain with hills and ridges out numbering the smoother paths, and, as the name suggests, loops around three lakes: Bean Blossom, Cherry, and Bryant.

Pate Hollow, Bloomington, IN

This seasonal trail is one of the more difficult trails on this list, with just shy of six miles of moderately rugged to rugged terrain spanning an elevation of 1,030 feet.  For a short distance, it follows the shore of Lake Monroe and weaves through the Paynetown State Recreation Area. A few miles northeast is the North Fork State Wildlife Refuge, and eastward of the trail itself is the Middlefork Wildlife Resting Area. All this means that if you're interested in animal-watching while you're hiking, you'll probably see some wildlife “just passing through.”

Hemlock Cliffs, Hoosier National Forest, Bedford, IN

Hemlock Cliffs is a tad more dangerous than your average hiking trail, but if you stay on the official park pathways, you'll be safe. From the bottom of the box canyon up the 200 feet of limestone cliffs is a two-mile loop known as Hemlock Cliffs, encircling two waterfalls and small specially-designated campgrounds. For reasons of ecosystem conservation and pure safety, Hemlock Cliffs has more rules and warning signs than your average hike, but for thrill-seekers, the views and sights are well worth the effort to follow the rules. Look carefully … you might even find a small cave or two!

Lincoln Park Loop, Santa Claus, IN

You guessed it, Lincoln as in President Abraham Lincoln. The namesake state park commemorates his childhood stomping grounds (pun intended), and the trail within the park is 7.3 miles of historic stepping. Covering an elevation of 761 feet, the year-round loop trail features seasonal wildflowers and a short jog to the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.  

Turkey Run State Park, Marshall, IN

The historic park contains 11 trails rated from easy to very rugged, for every hiker's desire. It's one of the most scenic of the parks, with geologic formations ranging from glacier-carved gorges to washed-out “punch bowls” to caves at the back of the park. Campgrounds are available, as is an inn with a tennis court and a pool, if you'd like to extend your stay either in comfort or adventure. History also appears in the form of a covered bridge over Sugar Creek immediately next to an old mill site, and on the directly opposite side of the park is another covered bridge close to Boulder Canyon … so watch your step!

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7840 West 56th Street, Indianapolis, IN
With 1400 acres of water and 3900 acres of forest, Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest city parks in the nation, offering unmatched opportu... Read More
N. Post Road, Indianapolis, IN
1.1 miles to Duck Pond. Start this trail at the northeast corner of the Delaware Lake picnic area. The trail follows the lowlands along Fall Creek,... Read More
5325 E 96th St, Indianapolis, IN
Town Run Trail Park, a recreation easement property of Indy Parks & Recreation, is one of two public sites for off-road mountain bike trail rid... Read More
6570 East. US Highway 36, Avon, IN
The Avon Town Park is located behind the Avon Town Hall and features a lake for fishing and trails. The park officially opened in the fall of 2002 ... Read More
6000 North Post Road, Indianapolis, IN
Fort Harrison State Park is a 17,000 acre park featuring more than six miles of walking and jogging trails, designated picnic areas, fishing access... Read More
7700 S. County Road 975 E, Plainfield, IN
Sodalis Nature Park, is 210 acres of beautiful, mature woodlands and reforestation area, which serves as home to an abundant array of native Indian... Read More
8264 E County Rd 100 S, Avon, IN
About Us: Burnett Woods is an Indiana State Dedicated Nature Preserve. The property has a 1.7 mile marked loop trail which is open to the public d... Read More
19401 Allisonville Rd, Noblesville, IN
About Us:Potter's Bridge Park features the only remaining covered bridge in Hamilton County, and is surrounded by a 66-acre park. Constructed betwe... Read More
11300 Prospect Street, Indianapolis, IN
This 82-acre park was acquired in 1970 and features beautiful trails, a small fishing pond and playground, making it a popular attraction on the ea... Read More
1926 S 600 W, New Palestine, IN
Jacob Schramm Nature Preserve is a 31-acre forest that has been permanently protected by the Hancock County Community Foundation and the Central In... Read More
Blue LoopThe Blue Loop is the longest loop of the four, and it offers a sampling of most of the park's trail system. The biggest feature of the Blu... Read More
Yellow Loop The Yellow Loop passes mostly through wooded areas. This loop is a great choice for nature lovers, as one could easily observe deer, ra... Read More
Green LoopThe Green Loop's path is mostly composed of sidewalks and paved trails, making it the perfect choice for anyone who doesn't want to take ... Read More
Red LoopThe Red Loop is located in the southwest corner of the Falls Park Trail System. It passes the Community Building and also provides access t... Read More
Observatory Road, Martinsville, IN
The 68-acre Fred and Dorothy Meyer Nature Preserve is located on Observatory Road, just a short distance off State Road 67 between Martinsville and... Read More
Morgan-Monroe State Forest, N Duckworth Rd, Paragon, IN
Indiana Department of Natural Resources donated 83 acre parcel of land with deed restrictions that essentially require the property to be used as a... Read More
South end Cherry Lake & Bryants Creek Lake shelter, Martinsville, IN
The Three Lakes Trail is named after the three lakes it formerly passed, one of which has since been drained due to a dam failure on Bean Blossom L... Read More
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