6 Of The Best Hiking Trails In Indiana

Hiking in Indiana offers an exciting variety of landscapes that you won’t easily find elsewhere. I’ve had to traverse woodlands, thick forests, sand dunes, beaches, and large lakes – sometimes all on the same hiking trail. There’s something for every hiker in Indiana, so let’s do a little exploring ourselves and discover hiking in Indiana.

Hiking in Kansas is suitable for beginners, intermediates, and experts and offers many interconnecting landscapes of sand, woodlands, and lakes. Top hiking trails include Boat House Trails, Harrison Trace Trail, Turkey Run outer-loop, Buffalo Trace Trail (Trail 2), and others.

Hiking is at its best when you work up a sweat, so let’s look at the best-suited trails for that so that you can thoroughly enjoy your experience and even share it with friends and loved ones.  

Hiking In Indiana

Indiana boasts spectacularly interesting and enjoyable hikes for all skill levels. Exploration will take you through dense forests, sand dunes, beaches, and breathtaking lakes. Hiking in Indiana is popular, and so you’ll often find joggers, cyclists, hikers, and people walking their dogs on most hiking trails.

The majority of these hiking trails permit you to bring your dogs, but they need to be on their leashes at all times.

Beginners will look forward to Boat House Trails in Griffy Lake Nature Reserve. It has a beautiful lake, upland forests, and exciting valleys to immerse yourself. Harrison Trace Trail in Fort Harrison State Park has a smoothly-paved trail that makes it perfect for rainy days and ideal as an introductory hiking trail.

Intermediates hikers will appreciate Turkey Run Outer Loop in Turkey Run State Park, especially if you’re a “choose your own adventure” kind person! Many interconnecting trails increase or decrease in difficulty. Furthermore, there is a unique variety of wildlife to see and impressive wild flora.

Expert hikers who enjoy a challenge can seek West Beach 3-Loop Trail in Indiana Dunes National Park. It offers an exciting combination of beaches, woodlands, sand dunes, pine trees, and lakes. The landscape diversity provides a considerable challenge that most expert hikers will find appealing.  

Indiana Hiking Trails For The Whole Family

If you’re looking for some great locations for a family hike-away, you’ll find what you need right here! There’s no time like well-spent time, and the clean hiking air will surely leave the family brimming with energy, while the kids will have a newfound appreciation for their phones and other digital luxuries.

Boat House Trails, Griffy Lake Nature Reserve

Boat House Trails is a 1.8-mile moderately trafficked circular path with a lake suitable for all ability levels in Bloomington, Indiana. The route is open year-round and guarantees various activity alternatives. This route is also accessible to dogs, although they must be on a leash. The estimated time for this hike is 50 minutes.

The route begins across the street from the boathouse and terminates at the boathouse parking lot’s east end. While the path is mainly on a level ridgetop, it does conclude with some rather steep hills! Beautiful views of valleys, upland forest, and occasional glimpses of the lake may be within viewing distance, along the trail’s edge.

Although this path does not provide high-altitude panoramas, it does provide stunning landscapes, especially in the fall. Furthermore, the hiking track is excellent for individuals who want to reintroduce themselves to trekking or become in better condition.

The trail’s center-half is relatively level with a substantial fall, while the finish has a manageable slope. If you’re searching for a path that won’t exhaust you entirely, bring some poles with you, and you’ll have a fantastic time on this trail.

Overall, it’s a good product. It’s an introductory, non-strengthening walk that’s also great for your canine buddies. It can become a little muddy at times, but not the entire path. You may find a few logs strewn over the trail, but they aren’t too tough to navigate.

Harrison Trace Trail, Fort Harrison State Park

Harrison Trace Path is a 2.4-mile moderately trafficked circular trail with a lake suitable for all ability levels in Indianapolis, Indiana. The route is open all year and is famous for strolling, jogging, bird viewing, and road riding. Your canine companions are welcome to accompany you, as long as they remain on a leash at all times.

This hiking path encircles two lakes and is a lovely, uncomplicated paved multi-use trail with plenty of shade; it’s especially suitable for hiking on a rainy day. The estimated time to complete this hiking trail is 1 hour and 3 minutes.  

At the west end of the route, in the paved parking area off of Clark Drive, there are four designated accessible sites. They’re all van-accessible and have striped access aisles. The route is covered with smooth asphalt and has partial rails. It’s usually 5 to 8 feet wide, with a painted dividing line to narrow it down.

The path is generally pleasant hiking for the most part, with the steepest parts occurring at roughly 0.4 and 2.0 miles while traveling clockwise. Trail users who use wheelchairs or other forms of mobility equipment may require help in certain portions, especially those highly verticle.

Resting areas include benches and picnic tables throughout the path and wheelchair-accessible restrooms near the trail’s western terminus. It’s also great for jogging, walking, or cycling because of the paved loop, which is guaranteed to get your heart beating!

If you prefer a natural approach, there are plenty of side roads to choose from in addition to the standard paved hiking track.

Indiana Hiking Trails For The Intermediate Hiker

If adventure is more your thing and you’re looking to build up a sweat, you’ll be in for a healthy variety of challenging trails. It’s time to forget about life’s mud-filled puddles and get stuck into a promising hiking trail instead. 

Turkey Run Outer Loop, Turkey Run State Park

Turkey Run Outer Circular is a 6-mile loop route near Marshall, Indiana, classed as moderate difficulty and allows you to watch various animal habitats. The path is open all year and is a popular choice for hiking and jogging. This hiking trek takes up to 2 hours and 54 minutes to complete.

Turkey Run Trails #2 through #11 are a tangle of short interconnecting trails that take you through some of the state’s most beautiful scenery. As you trail across the countryside, you will pass through 11 miles of woodland terrain with steep ravines, ridge tops, hiking through waterfalls, and climbing ladders.

The routes range in length from.5 miles to two miles. Because of the interconnection and cross-over of the pathways, hiking would take much longer than the 11 miles. A three-mile different path, #1, is possibly the most gorgeous of all the trails.

The entire region is highly-attractive and unusual, and climbers will love the various ladders and steps, even though their purpose is to aid in erosion prevention and let tourists see all of the distant locations. Furthermore, due to the various length of the routes and the area’s exceptional beauty, the area is an excellent introduction to hiking for children.

This trail is constantly changing and never gets old. It has bridges, a river, ladders, dirt, gravel, rocky trails, and creek crossings. It’s also a good idea to dress for mud and a few inches of water on various track sections. It’s also great if you don’t want to stop for lunch.

A bit of usual advice is to wear hiking boots and arrive early because it may get quite crowded after lunchtime.

Buffalo Trace Trails (Trail 2), French Lick Indiana

Buffalo Trace Trails (Path 2) is a fairly challenging 5.7-mile widely frequented circular trail near French Lick, Indiana, with a waterfall. The path is excellent for hiking, jogging, nature walks, and mountain biking, and dogs are allowed but must be on a leash. The estimated completion time for this hiking trail is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

The 5.5-mile Buffalo Trace Route starts the trail at French Lick Resort. This trail features components that make it beginner-friendly, and you may progress to a more tough course from there. Regardless of which path they chose, both have a rapid, steady rise followed by a speedy descent.

At the end of the path, hikers have the option to veer off to the 3.5-mile Waterfall Loop that will prove challenging with ups and downs, climbing, and demanding footwork.

During the winter, this trek is lovely. The paths are well-kept, and the directional markers are apparent, making for a pleasant stroll. Because there are markers every 0.25 mile, being lost takes some work!

Some parts may be a little slippery due to muddy patches, but they are easy to overcome. If you turn right when you first arrive on the route, you’ll come across an amazingly stunning pine grove that looks like it belongs in Washington State. There are several switchbacks as well as height changes.

For southern Indiana, the path boasts a remarkable variety of geography. It has enough slopes and curves for a modest trek or workout, as well as an intriguing combination of pine forest, rocky outcrops, and little streams.

A few spots even have a brief gap in the normally densely wooded canopy, allowing for some sunlight. In the summer, portions of the path may have mosquitoes; however, this is only true for a limited part of the trail.

Indiana Hiking Trails For The Born Mountaineer

If you’re someone who enjoys pushing yourself to your limits with the intention of crawling because you cannot stand any longer, some excellent hikes await you. Indiana is no stranger to rugged trails, and you’re bound to work up a satisfying sweat from the demanding landscapes.  

West Beach 3-Loop Trail, Indiana Dunes National Park

The West Beach 3-Loop Route is a 3.4-mile moderately trafficked loop trail that incorporates a lake and rates in the challenging category. It exists near Portage, Indiana. The route is open all year and is famous for hiking, nature tours, and bird viewing. You are free to bring your canine companions as long as they are on a leash.

It takes 1 hour and 35 minutes to finish this hiking trek. Despite the brief period, the sheer volume of sand makes it difficult. Nonetheless, West Beach provides a fantastic blend of trekking and beach relaxation.

The paths are diverse and cover a wide range of environments that offers spectacular scenery from the top of the Dune Trail stairs, a lovely jack pine pinery, birding chances around Long Lake, and quiet woodland portions.

You may go for a swim at the beach after your hike. The trail surface varies from loose sand to compacted soil, with steps and boardwalks thrown in for good measure.

Prepare to walk on loose dune sand for roughly half of the distance, which is difficult for most hikers. Also, because a large portion of this loop is in the open, pack plenty of water, especially if it’s an uncomfortably humid day.

Otherwise, you’ll enjoy a beautiful view of the dunes and Lake Michigan, as well as a terrific time exploring the park’s varied ecosystems.

Little Calumet River, Mnoke Prairie, Indiana Dunes National Park

The Little Calumet River and Mnoke Prairie Path has a river and is a 3.9-mile lightly trafficked circle trail near Chesterton, Indiana. The route is open all year and is famous for hiking, jogging, nature tours, and bird viewing. This hiking trek takes 1 hour and 41 minutes to complete. Dogs are welcome to join, but they must be on a leash at all times.

This lovely path system highlights the area’s tremendous natural variety, which humans have drawn to for thousands of years. Hike through a forest with maple, beech, basswood, and oak trees as the dominant species.

Explore the freshly restored Mnoke Prairie to glimpse the vast stretches of pre-settlement grasslands and follow a length of the Little Calumet River, which was once a vital transit route for early area visitors. This trek weaves together multiple trails to form a perimeter circle. The ancient Bailly Homestead and Chellberg Farm are well worth visiting.

Conclusion

For a beginner-friendly hiking experience and a beautiful view, Boat House Trails, Griffy Lake Nature Reserve, is a great pick. If you want something more demanding that will get the heart pumping, consider West Beach 3-Loop Trail and Little Calumet River, Mnoke Prairie in Indiana Dunes National Park.