10 Unique Hiking Trails in Indiana

10 Unique Hiking Trails in Indiana

Updated April 2024

Narrowing down the best hiking trails in Indiana is tough, but here are ten unique options. As a lifelong resident of Indiana, these are my favorite hiking spots. When time permits, I try to discover new trails on my free days. These ten distinct trails are only a tiny sample of the many fantastic hiking opportunities in Indiana and the Midwest.

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1. Buffalo Trail (Trail 1) Ouabache State Park

4930 E. State Road 201, Bluffton, IN

Nestled in Indiana’s scenic landscape, Ouabache State Park stands unique as the only state park that houses buffalo. Trail 1, a short and easy trail, encircles the buffalo exhibit, providing hikers with an up-close encounter with these magnificent creatures. This trail is perfect for families with children, offering a delightful wildlife-viewing experience. Just a stone’s throw away from the trailhead, the fire tower, and Kunkel Lake beckon visitors with breathtaking views and inviting picnic spots.

Trail 1 = accessible 1 mile


2. Ed Dailey Nature Trail, Cataract Falls State Recreation Area

1317 W. Lieber Road, Cloverdale, IN

The Ed Dailey Nature Trail offers an enchanting connection between the Upper and Lower Cataract Falls. It is a stone path loop designed to accommodate explorers of all ages. As you traverse the trail, you will be greeted by the waterfalls and the iconic red-covered bridge. 

During spring, fall, or after heavy rainfall, the falls flow faster and with greater volume.  Please be mindful that the path near the waterfall can become slippery after rainfall, so it is advisable to wear slip-resistant footwear to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Ed Dailey Nature Trail = moderate/easy 1.7 miles



3. McCormick Creek State Park, Trail 3

250 McCormick’s Creek Park Road, Spencer, IN

Trail 3 is labeled rugged but will take you to the beautiful Falls at McCormick Creek State Park. The loop starts at the park inn, Canyon Creek, and takes you down the canyon into the Falls. If water levels are high, this trail will be hard to access. Also, note that the stairs to the Falls are steep, and it’s a physically intense climb back up. Trail 3 winds around Camp Na Wa Kwa, taking hikers by the amphitheater.

You can shorten this trail and access the Falls by parking in the lot closest to the Falls and descending to the canyon off of Trail 3.

Trail 3 = rugged 0.8 miles

4. Mounds State Park, Trail 1

4306 Mounds Road, Anderson, IN

I’m slightly biased towards this easy trail because I live nearby and frequent it often. It’s a great and easily accessible trail for families. Mounds State Park has 10 unique earthworks built by prehistoric Indians, and Trail 1 wraps around four mounds. It also takes you past the Bronnenberg House (built in 1840), and the parking lot for this trail is connected to the Nature Center (a must-see!).

Trail 1 = Easy 1-mile trail

McCormick Creek State Park
5. Rose Island Loop, Charlestown State Park

12500 IN-62, Charlestown, IN

Rose Island is an abandoned 1920s amusement park in southern Illinois. It is now part of Charlestown State Park. The park closed its doors in 1937 after a significant flood. Metal archways, stone pillars, a filled-in swimming pool, brick pavers, and crumbling foundations are all that is left of Rose Island.

The “island” is only available by taking Trail 3 (marked as rugged) and crossing a bridge to access Trail 7 (marked as easy), the Rose Island Loop.  Trail 3 is steeply declining, making a labor-intensive incline backup. Remember: it is quite the workout and requires energy and endurance.

Trail 7 (1.2 miles) + Trail 3 (0.9 miles) = Easy/Rugged 2.1 miles total

6. Shades State Park, Trail 1

7751 S. 890 W., Waveland, IN

Shades State Park offers a variety of trails, and you won’t be disappointed with any of them. However, Trail 1 stands out as a favorite due to its compact length of just under a mile and the numerous scenic spots it covers. Classified as moderately rugged, Trail 1 involves hiking through a creek bed and negotiating steep stairs. Highlights along the trail include Devil’s Punchbowl, Silver Cascade Waterfall, and Inspiration and Prospect points, which provide breathtaking views.

Trail 1 = moderately rugged 0.75 mile 


7. Spring Mill State Park, Trail 4

3333 State Road 60 E., Mitchell, IN

Among the trails at Spring Mill State Park, Trail 4 offers the most exciting sights. Despite its designated ruggedness, parts of this trail are surprisingly paved and easy to navigate. Notable landmarks include the Donaldson Cave and Hamer Cemetery, leading to the highlight of the trail—the Pioneer Village. Established in 1814, this restored village showcases 20 historic buildings, including a gristmill, providing a glimpse into the area’s past.

Trail 4 = rugged/easy 2 miles

8. Strahl Lake Trail, Brown County State Park

1801 Indiana 46 East, Nashville, IN

The Strahl Lake Trail (Trail 6) is labeled an easy/rugged trail that loops around the entire lake. It is connected to the Discovery Trail, a self-guided nature trail around the Nature Center. The view of the lake is phenomenal, especially in the Fall—a popular time of the year in Brown County State Park. If you take the connecting Discovery Trail, you won’t be disappointed with the views behind the Nature Center at the amphitheater overlooking the rugged hills.

Strahl Lake Trail 6 (1.5) + Discovery Trail (0.7) = Easy/rugged 2.2 miles

Participating in the Seven Vista Challenge adds to the excitement of visiting Brown County State Park. Capture breathtaking photos at each of the seven scenic vistas and share them online using the hashtag #BC7VistaChallenge to have your photo showcased.


9. Trail of Twelve Stones, Lincoln Boyhood Memorial Site

3027 East South Street, Lincoln City, IN

This trail leads from Abraham Lincoln’s boyhood home to the cemetery where his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, rests. Installed in 1933, the twelve stones along the trail chronicle significant events in Lincoln’s life and career chronologically. The trail is accessible, with ample shade and benches for resting.

Twelve Stone Trail = easy 1.1 miles

10. Turkey Run State Park Trails

8121 E. Park Road, Marshall, IN

Turkey Run State Park boasts several breathtaking trails, but three stand out for their unique views and challenging climbs. Trail 4, categorized as moderately rugged, leads hikers through Rocky Hollow and showcases the Punch Bowl waterfall. However, during high water levels, hikers must wear waterproof hiking boots to pass through a small creek to access this trail.

Trail 5 and Trail 9 are the most popular trails at Turkey Run, with Trail 5 classified as moderately rugged and Trail 9 as very rugged. These interconnected trails take adventurers into two canyons and the “Ice Box,” a fascinating glacier formation. To access these trails, hikers can take a portion of Trail 3 past the “Ice Box” and connect to Trail 5, where they will encounter 140 stairs leading down to Trail 9. Ladders are provided for climbing in and out of the canyons. It’s important to note that these trails are not recommended for small children or individuals with physical limitations due to their challenging terrain.

Trail 4 – moderately rugged 2 miles

Trail 3 (0.5 miles) + Trail 5 (0.7 miles) + Trail 9 (1 mile) Loop – moderately/very rugged 2.2 miles total

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