Central Indiana State Parks
It's true that the central part of the state includes our largest city, but it's also home to several beautiful State Parks ready for you to explore. In fact, one of those natural escapes is right in Indianapolis.
About This Road Trip
Summit Lake State Park
Summit Lake State Park has an excellent birdwatching and wildlife observation area, attracting rare migratory species like the black tern, bald eagle and sandhill crane. In the southwest corner of the park is Henry County's first nature preserve: Zeigler Woods. You can also camp, fish and enjoy the beach.
Turkey Run State Park
Two of the trails at Turkey Run State Park were voted first and second place among all Indiana trails. Explore the deep sandstone ravines, walk along stands of aged forests and enjoy the scenic views along Sugar Creek. It’s always fun to cross the suspension bridge, too. Turkey Run has horseback riding, a planetarium, tennis and fishing. You can camp, stay in a cabin or overnight in the homey Turkey Run Inn.
Shades State Park
True to its name, Shades State Park lets you hike through shady ravines and sandstone cliffs overlooking Sugar Creek. Trails go from easy to rugged, with some having you walk in a creek, step over logs and rocks, and go up and down ladders. The park’s Pine Hills Nature Preserve is also a beautiful setting for hiking. Bring your tent to stay over, because there’s only non-electric camping here.
Fort Harrison State Park
You’ll forget you’re in a city the size of Indianapolis when you’re hiking through Fort Harrison State Park. Named for U.S. President and Indianapolis native Benjamin Harrison, the site began as a military facility in 1902. When it closed in the 1990s, the State acquired parts of the base designated as natural areas. Now it’s also home to the beautiful Fort Harrison Inn, an 18-hole Pete Dye-designed golf course, and dog park.
McCormick’s Creek State Park
Explore the spectacular limestone canyon and scenic waterfalls at McCormick’s Creek State Park, Indiana’s oldest. Located near Spencer, McCormick’s Creek’s trails feature diverse forest trees, spicebrush, native wildflowers and Wolf Cave Nature Preserve. You can stay overnight at a campsite, a cabin or the relaxing Canyon Inn, where you can watch birds through the enormous windows in the dining room.
Mounds State Park
Mounds State Park features 10 earthworks built by prehistoric Indians known as the Adena-Hopewell people. Visitors enjoy camping and hiking here, in addition to seeing and learning about the mounds. Look carefully for dragonfly species only found in this area.
Brookville Lake has more than 25 miles of hiking trails, boating opportunities, and nationally known recreational and sport fishing. Two beaches and more than 400 campsites make this an ideal family vacation spot. There are also traces of prehistoric Native American mounds throughout this valley, as well as a significant deposit of 450-million-year-old fossils.
Lieber State Recreation Area at Cagles Mill Lake
Lieber State Recreation Area at Cagles Mill Lake is home to the beautiful Cataract Falls. These falls resulted from two pre-glacial bedrock ridges buried beneath ancient lake sediments of the Illinoisan glacial period. There's also fishing, boat rentals and plenty of hiking here.