Are you anxious to take advantage of the spring weather? Got antsy little ones who need some fresh air? If you’re looking for family-friendly hiking and a ton of great ways to explore then you need to head to south central Indiana. Located just over an hour southwest of Indianapolis and just 30 minutes from Bloomington, McCormick’s Creek State Park is Indiana’s oldest state park and it’s perfect for families.
There are miles of trails to choose from at all ability levels, and they cover a variety of different landscapes so you can get a feel for all the park has to offer in addition to a state park inn, restaurant, and campground. We visited a few weeks ago for the first time and found it to be kid-friendly with lots of well-maintained amenities.
There are multiple picnic grounds throughout the park and several shelters that are perfect for groups. We ended up near the Deer Creek shelter and my kids loved having the playground to explore while we set up our picnic lunch. We also hiked Trail 9, which is an easy 1.2-mile trail through the woods with enough slight elevation changes to make it interesting. The only downside to this area was the lack of restrooms, but there are many others located throughout the park.
The Nature Center has various interactive displays for kids and ranger talks scheduled throughout the day. We happened upon the water snake feeding and my boys were captivated. We also earned more about the park’s Wolf Cave and are anxious to get back to explore it. There are modern restrooms inside, and just across the parking lot is the swimming pool (open seasonally).
Our final hike started in the parking lot near the park’s inn. Trail 3, a rugged 0.8-mile loop, follows a rocky creek bed. You can take a small detour and view the park’s waterfall from both an observation deck and a set of stairs down to the water. We skipped the stairs because of the crowds and headed further down the trail which takes you downstream and descends into the ravine.
There are no bridges to cross the creek and due to some recent rains we didn’t make it as far as we would have liked, but my boys were perfectly happy to spend lots of time throwing rocks into the water. If it had been warmer, they would have happily stomped in the creek. I’d love to come back when it’s a bit easier to cross or with waterproof shoes, but even then this trail is not well marked and could be a bit challenging, especially for little ones.
We ended our time in the park by grabbing some ice cream treats in the lobby of Canyon Inn, one of Indiana’s seven state park inns. We loved our visit to another state park inn (Clifty Inn) last fall, and I’d love to come back to this one and spend the night. It looks like a great place for a family reunion or quick weekend away.
McCormick’s Creek State Park is full of family-friendly amenities that will ensure your family can create their own outdoor experience. From horseback riding to outdoor recreation rentals, there are activities and trails for all ages. Whether you come for a day of hiking or spend the night at the inn or campground, you’ll be reminded of just how much there is to see in the Hoosier State.
Has your family been to McCormick’s Creek? Where do you have your next family hike planned? Leave a comment below!