Looking to get out in the woods and experience some natural beauty but don’t have time for a strenuous hike? Maybe you need something gentle for a wide variety of ability levels in your group? Just an hour away from Indianapolis, Cataract Falls and Lieber State Recreation Area offer two easy opportunities to get outside and do a little exploring with your family. Both of these short treks are perfect for little legs or older grandparents to join in and will give you the chance to let your family unplug for a bit.
Lieber State Recreation Area
This state-managed recreation area is located just a few miles south of I-70 on the shores of Cagles Mill Lake. The entrance fee is $7 for residents/$9 for out-of-state visitors. It has many of the amenities of a state park including a seasonal aquatic center (extra charge), nature center, and camping. A boat launch is available as well as a beach area for swimming. You could easily spend an entire weekend here. We visited in the spring, before many of these amenities were open, but enjoyed hiking the short .75-mile trail that featured a very cute covered bridge. A nice safe trail through the woods with a playground across the parking lot, this is a great practice hike for young kids.
Just a few miles away is Cataract Falls, home of Indiana’s largest waterfall. It’s an unexpected discovery in the middle of the rolling hills of west-central Indiana. We stopped by for a few hours and explored the Lower Falls and Upper Falls. Both are impressive at over 15 feet high with lots of places to view from the river bank. There’s a path that connects the two falls and allows you to wander along the riverbank. Or you can drive between the two waterfalls. Picnic spots are available but the only restrooms are pit toilets so plan ahead if that’s not your cup of tea.
The photogenic red covered bridge makes the perfect background for aspiring photographers and if it had been warmer my kids would have found many places further downstream to splash in the calmer waters.
Want to extend your outdoor adventuring? McCormick’s Creek State Park is just a few miles down the road and offers tons of hiking options. We hit all three of these in a one-day adventure and still had plenty of time to be home by dinner. If you’re traveling from farther away, consider booking a night at the Canyon Inn located inside McCormick’s Creek State Park.
Even for just a few hours, it’s nice to be able to escape to beautiful places like these for a quick hike through the woods or to admire some of Mother Nature’s handiwork. Pack a quick lunch and spend an afternoon away from the city, discovering some of the hidden beauty that Indiana has to offer. Let your kids experience some time away from their screens while you’re refreshed by the quiet landscape. Cateract Falls and Lieber State Recreation Area are both perfect outdoor escapes for families in Indiana.