Ladders, a waterfall, squeezing through a wedge rock…not things you typically put into the sentence ‘What I did on my hike in Indiana’. But the Hoosier state has a few surprises up her sleeve when it comes to unique hiking experiences and Turkey Run State Park might just be among one of the best.
This Indiana state park is situated in western Indiana just about an hour and half from Indianapolis near the Illinois border. It also happens to be one of Indiana’s most popular state parks. Families can hike, canoe, horseback ride, and swim at this incredible park. We recently visited on one of the last nice days of fall and are already making plans to return when the weather is warmer.
Hiking at Turkey Run State Park with Kids
Family hiking is a must at Turkey Run. We stopped in first at the park’s nature center (check seasonal hours before you go). There are restrooms, a bird observation area, and several interactive displays for kids. There’s even a unique planetarium which offers ranger-led programs for families.
The helpful and friendly staff pointed us toward some trails and even had photos for a few tricky spots on the more rugged trails. Make sure to check if you have mobility concerns or questions since many of the trails here are fairly rugged.
Turkey Run has a carry out trash policy which means they do not provide any trash cans throughout the entire park, however you can grab a trash bag at the nature center and kids can even earn a prize for collecting a bag of trash.
Look for scavenger hunts or other interactive activities as well. My boys participated in a autumn photo scavenger hunt which kept them interested on our hike.
We hiked Trail 3 which is moderate in places and very rugged in others including 3 wooden ladders and some rocky walls to navigate. Good shoes (that are ok to get muddy) are a must. Plus, you’ll need to see if there’s been high water recently since much of the trail follows a creek bed.
At 5 and 8, my boys loved it but we had to go slow through quite a few places so know what your kids can handle. Pro tip: head left after you cross the suspension bridge and follow Trail 3 clockwise – you’ll be going up the ladders and down the waterfall, which I think is a little easier with kids.
There are several less rugged trails to check out as well, most of which are located across the Sugar Creek via the suspension bridge.
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Exploring Turkey Run State Park
During the busy summer months, visitors can swim in the olympic-sized swimming pool (extra fee), picnic, or attend a naturalist program put on by the rangers. The trail rides at the park’s Saddle Barn are available most of the year.
Camping is also available but spots fill up quickly, so make sure to reserve in advance.
Turkey Run Inn
For those of us who like a little more glam in our glamping experiences, the Turkey Run Inn is just the ticket. This historic inn has been lovingly maintained and offers a variety of room configurations for families. There are also several cabins right next to the lodge which looked very inviting.
Whether you’re staying overnight or not, the Turkey Run Inn’s restaurant, Narrows, is a great place to refuel. We had lunch after our hike and I was very impressed by the kids menus. Lots of choices that included a drink an a scoop of ice cream for under $5.00! I’d probably skip the buffet next time for one of the menu items as the buffet food was pretty bland.
One of my favorite places at state park inns are the cozy gathering rooms that usually boast a big fireplace and lots of comfy places to curl up with a board game or book. Again, you’re welcome to pop in even if you’re not a guest.
For even more family fun, there’s an arcade and indoor pool for kids to explore after a day of hiking.
Related Post: Indiana State Park Inn Review: Clifty Inn
More Indiana State Parks
Check out some of my other reviews for Indiana State Parks
Have you visited Turkey Run State Park? Leave a comment with your best tip for visiting or the next park you’d like to see us review.