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 one of these great hiking spots around 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.
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.
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 an entrance fee ($5-6).
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.
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!
Do you have any other hidden gems for hiking in Indianapolis? What’s your favorite place to escape to right here in the city?