Nothing beats a great hike in the woods; a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of daily life and be outdoors. But scheduling a day to escape can sometimes be difficult.
Between kid activities and work, you may not always have the time to travel far for a trek through the trees but even with just a few hours you can take advantage of the best family hikes in Indianapolis. I notice that our family always feels better after a little time in nature so even when life gets busy we’ve found some great spots to escape the city without actually leaving town.
Best Family Hikes in Indianapolis
On the north side of town just minutes from Broad Ripple is Marott Park. It’s looks like a very unassuming parking lot and grassy area but the real gem here is the hiking trails that wander through the woods and down to the banks of Williams Creek. The paths are mostly well-marked and my kids love the chance to go creek stomping in the warm weather.
This is a lesser-known park and parking is usually easy to find, but make sure you pack water and use the restroom before you arrive, since there are no facilities on site. The park is very safe but since the parking lot is hidden from most of the park, it’s can be targeted for car break ins so make sure to hide any valuables out of site.
Richey Woods Nature Preserve is located in Fishers on the northeast side of the city. The trails here are a mix of prairie and woods and for the most part are fairly level gravel trails that would make it easier for little legs. They have a beautiful picnic shelter and even a fire pit that can be rented for larger groups. Parking is plentiful and there’s plenty of shade in the summer.
Eagle Creek Park
We just recently visited this west side park and I’m kicking myself for not exploring it sooner. Eagle Creek is the largest municipal park in the city and feels much more like a state park than a city park. There are miles of trails through the woods along Eagle Creek reservoir, two nature centers, a marina, swimming area and even a high ropes course (extra charge). There is a small vehicle entrance fee for this park.
Fort Benjamin Harrison State Park
One of two State Parks located in Indianapolis, Fort Ben sits on the city’s east side and has a huge amount of trails for biking, hiking and even horseback riding. There’s a paved trail that’s perfect for strollers and multiple level of difficulties. The standard state park admissions fee does apply but if you’re short on time and want a lot to do, Fort Ben is worth the cost.
Flowing Well Park
Flowing Well Park’s namesake is a naturally occurring spring located near the parking lot where you’re welcome to fill your water bottle. When you first pull in the park looks fairly small but take the path into the woods and you’ll find some trails to explore as well as a perfect creek for wading or skipping rocks. The trails are short so this isn’t a great park for a long leg-stretching hike but it is a fun family outing in the woods right in the middle of Carmel.
Holliday Park is along the White River and has lot of city park amenities like a fantastic playground and a great nature center but also some rugged trails that lead down to the river bank. My kids love this park and I love that there are always interesting programs scheduled. Don’t miss the newly restored ruins that are part of the original Holliday estate’s collection either. This park is located off Spring Mill Road on the north side of the city.
Cool Creek Park
You can make a full day of your trip to Cook Creek Park in Hamilton County. Check out the brand new playground complete with family fitness challenges which are a total blast. Then head to the nature center for some hands-on exhibits, take a hike on one several trails in the woods, and finally cool off with some creek stomping. There are trails through the woods and also through some tall grass prairie so you have lots to choose from.
There’s also special events and concerts throughout the season, so make sure to check their Facebook page for more info.
Nina Mason Pulliam EcoLab at Marian University
This hidden gem of a park is on the campus of Marian University but is open to the public. To access the EcoLab from two trails on the north side of campus. It’s a little tricky to find but completely worth it to wander the well maintained trails and check out the cool outdoor classroom space. I highly recommend parking back towards the gym and using the more accessible West trailhead since the East trailhead near Allison Mansion has lots of steep steps.
Kid-Friendly Hikes in Indy
I know those family schedules fill up quick so whether you have a whole day to explore or just a few hours to spare, all of these locations should give your family the dose of nature that they need without a long drive. It’s easier and closer to escape the city than you thought!
Want to go farther outside the city or escape for a weekend of hiking? Check out more about our favorite Indiana state parks!
Click to Pin for Later
What are the best family hikes in Indianapolis? Do you have a favorite spot you keep returning to? Tell us about in the comments below!