Playing outside has so many health benefits, mental and physical, but it can be a struggle in the heat and humidity of an Indiana summer! One way we love to cool off and have lots of fun – even in the unbearable temperatures Mother Nature likes to cook us with around here – is creek stomping. You can find access to many creeks and streams in the Indy area, but one of our favorites places to creek stomp is Cool Creek Park in Carmel.
If hitting the creek is your primary goal, drive past the main parking area when you arrive until you reach the nature center parking lot. The easiest trail to Cool Creek is found here, between the restrooms and nature center. Follow the dirt path down the steps and you will see the creek below.
Where to Access the Creek
Depending on your skill level (and recent rainfall), you can access Cool Creek from a few different places. Typically, it is easier to have an adult or big kid get in first to assist the little ones. At Cool Creek, we find it easiest for everyone to cross the wooden bridge and climb down, right after you cross, just to the right. The embankment is mostly large rocks which can be easier to navigate. When you enter the creek on the east side of the bridge, the creek bed will be rocky and the water is usually shallow. It’s a perfect place to skim for shells. Little ones love to sit and splash in this area too.
Head further downstream and it gets a bit deeper. We have not found any sudden drop offs of concern, but use caution.
If you want to head west in the creek, you can enter before you cross the bridge. A few steps west of the bridge, you will find a less rocky embankment, which is mostly dirt and sand. This sounds easier for everyone, but it does lead to deeper water from the get go. The bigger kids like to access the deeper water and swim the creek on this side of the bridge.
As with any creek, the depth depends on the amount of rainfall the area has received recently. Only you know your kids abilities, but we tend to have life jackets at the ready in case the water is deeper or there is a faster current than anticipated. Apply sunscreen and bug spray before heading into the woods. Wear a rashguard for bug and sun protection. Wear old sneakers or water shoes to protect your feet from scrapes on sharp rocks.
Don’t forget to pack buckets and sand rakes! We love taking something to filter the water through. Use a mesh butterfly catcher, a plastic colander, or even a slotted spoon to sift through the creek water and find treasure. Cool Creek has some beautiful shells and rocks to discover. We also like to take waterproof dolls like Barbies, action heroes or plastic animals to play with in the water. Blowing bubbles for babies and toddlers to reach for while sitting in shallow water is always fun too!
Forgot the water toys? No worries! Play eye-spy or create a scavenger hunt while you’re all in the water. See who can collect the smallest shell or biggest leaf. Use what nature provides to have fun!
Not Ready to Head Home Yet?
Pack a picnic and a blanket to spread out under a shady tree and dry off a bit. Don’t forget your water bottles! Cool Creek is also great because they have restrooms to clean up and change clothes in once you’re ready to dry off for the day.
Once everyone is dry, you should check out the nature center, the hiking trails, or the huge playground! Follow signs to the northwest side of the park to discover a shaded nature play area. Cool Creek Park and Nature Center is a great place to spend a hot summer day in Indiana, offering a bit of something for everyone.
What is your favorite thing to do when you creek stomp?