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7 Indiana State Parks with Excellent Hiking Trails Less than 5 Miles

You certainly don’t need to hike miles and miles to experience the joys and beauty of the great outdoors. These seven Indiana State Parks are ready to prove it!

From waterfalls to caves and much more, these shorter excursions (all less than five miles long) perfectly showcase the natural beauty of the Hoosier State. Check them out! 

Fort Harrison State Park 

This Indiana State Park is home to six different hiking trails ranging from one to a little more than four miles long. These trials allow you to discover the beauty of Lake Delaware from nearly every direction. However, more experienced hikers should not miss Lawrence Creek Trail—a 4.2-mile loop traversing ravines, lush forests and an abundance of summer wildflowers. 

There are no campsites at this more urban state park. However, Fort Harrison Inn offers lodging, dining and more for guests to enjoy!  

Shades State Park 

Shades State Park offers ten shorter hikes (the longest being just two miles) varying in difficulty but all with excellent natural scenery. Sandstone cliffs stretching high above Sugar Creek provide vast vistas of this dramatic ravine. 

Non-electric and backpack-in campsites are available for overnight stays.

Yellowwood State Forest 

Did you know that with a free permit and a little luck, you could find some gold in Yellowwood State Forest? That’s right! Gold panning is a popular attraction here. 

With five excellent hiking trails ranging from a half-mile long to four and a half miles, you’ll have plenty of room to try your hand at Mother Nature’s lottery. 

Primitive campsites are your only option for overnighting in this Indiana State Forest.

Charlestown State Park 

The trails at Charlestown State Park are all less than five miles long. but we definitely can’t say they are just a walk in the park. 

Six trails ranging from a little more than one mile to just shy of three are ranked as moderate to rugged hikes by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It’s safe to say that your efforts will be well rewarded with incredible views of the Fourteen Mile Creek valley and the Ohio River. 

More than 70 bird species call this region home, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching, too. Both full hook-up and electric-only campsites are available in Charlestown State Park.

Spring Mill State Park 

Spring Mill State Park in Indiana is home to multiple caves, a pioneer village, a nature center and even an astronaut memorial for one of the first American’s to travel into space. Quarter-mile paved trails make these points of interest easily accessible, while a two-and-a-half-mile-long loop brings you to three different caves and a whole lot more! 

This Indiana State Park has so much to offer that you’ll certainly want to stay awhile. Electric and primitive sites are available for overnight stays.

Clifty Falls State Park

With multiple waterfalls ranging from powerful plunges to dreamy, gentle mists, you'll quickly fall in love with the trails at Clifty Falls State Park! Pack proper footwear, though, as these shorter treks ranging from a half-mile to four and a half miles along Clifty Canyon can be steep and rugged.

Campsites are available for guests looking to explore for more than a day. 

Brown County State Park

All 12 trails in Brown County State Park are less than even four miles long. Yet, their length has nothing to do with the grandeur of their views! 

This Indiana State Park is known as the "Little Smokies" for its Smokey Mountain-like resemblance. Stay at the rustic Abe Martin Lodge or Cabins and take your time working your way through each of the trails, stopping to take in a scenic sunset or two. 

And of course, RV and tent camping is also available in Indiana's largest state park.

From Making Memories to Making Plans

Whether you prefer hiking through lush forests thick with unknown-to-you vegetation or along rocky hillsides viewing miles of undisturbed land, hiking in these (and other) Indiana State Parks is sure to be a remarkable experience.

And that's where an Indiana State Parks Bucket Journal comes in handy! Hikers, especially, love recording their experiences in this easy-to-use journal. They make both recording your trip's highlights and planning your next adventure that much easier! 

What is your all-time favorite hike in an Indiana State Park?

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