Central Indiana has so many exciting locations and resources to keep families busy. We have museums, water parks, sports teams, playgrounds, and awesome indoor places to play. We also have a huge 1,700-acre nature wonderland on the northeast side of Marion County called Fort Harrison State Park (Fort Ben to the locals).
We are extremely fortunate to have such an oasis of undeveloped land in the middle of an otherwise urban area. At Fort Ben, you can find fun things to do for everyone in your family all year round.
Fort Harrison State Park Offers Year-Round Activities
Fort Harrison offers opportunities to play all year long. Some activities are better for particular seasons, but there is always something for your family to do at Fort Ben!
Hike the Fort Harrison State Park Trails
Fort Ben has a variety of trails to choose from. From easy, moderate, and difficult forest hikes to paved and multipurpose. Everyone from the toddler in the stroller to the avid trail rider will find a route to love.
Harrison Trace Trail. Easy 3.2 miles
Fall Creek Trails. Moderate 1 mile
Camp Creek Trail. Difficult 2 miles
Lawrence Creek Trail. Difficult 4 miles
Schoen Creek Trail. Difficult 3 mile
Tree Line Trail. Easy 1 mile
Playgrounds & Pavilions at Fort Harrison State Park
Take to the trails and work up an appetite then enjoy your picnic at any of the shelters. Grills are available and one shelter has a fireplace for those cooler picnic days. Plan a birthday party or rent out a shelter for a family reunion.
You will find a few playgrounds near the shelters. Our favorite is the nature-inspired one at the Reddick shelter across from the sledding hill. They have swings, climbing equipment, and a slide built into the hill.
Museum of 20th-Century Warfare
Just across from the stables, you can find the Museum of 20th-Century Warfare. Throughout the year, you can watch live re-enactments of well-known battles from wars across the globe. The museum rotates its exhibits and features local divisions and infantries. It has a library and a unique model of the USS Indianapolis. The museum is open from March through November. Free with park admission.
Fishing is a year-round activity at Fort Ben. Cast your line in either Fall Creek or Lawrence Creek. You can also fish in Delaware Lake. Trout are stocked in Delaware Lake in March and catfish in the fall. If you don’t have a fishing license, take advantage of the Indiana DNR Free Fishing days! Pond frozen? No worries, ice fishing is a common activity if the weather is in agreement.
Winter Activities at Fort Harrison
In the winter months, Fort Harrison offers one of the area’s tallest sledding hills. The best parking is in the decent-sized lot next to the nature playground. Layer up your snow gear, cross the road, and prepare for the climb. Haul your sled or innertube up either side and coast down to parents and onlookers below.
If that snow-covered mountain is too intimidating or crowded, we love the hills on the backside of the nature playground. You can find steep inclines or gentle slopes to suit everyone’s needs. The backside of this hill is usually less congested but can still attract young and old if the temps are right.
You may notice folks cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing across the vast snow-covered grasslands. If you dress for the weather, you can enjoy this huge park even in the most frigid temperatures.
Spring Activities at Fort Harrison
In spring at Fort Ben, hit one of the many trails and surround yourself with wildflowers. Bring your binoculars and witness the migration of the warblers or check the calendar for scheduled bird walks with the park naturalist. For interpretive programs, contact the Visitors Center.
Summer Activities at Fort Harrison
In the summer, you can spend an entire day having fun and keeping cool at Fort Ben. Pack your swim gear and beat the heat in the creek. We love the access point just north of the Delaware parking lot. There is a nice embankment to hang out on if you don’t intend to swim and it makes a great spot to enjoy a picnic or snacks. Kids love jumping into the water from fallen logs. Water levels can vary based on recent rainfall. Bring inflatables and life jackets and wear water shoes to protect your toes from the rocky soil. You will also want to bring buckets and shovels, something to sift for shells in the sand, a blanket or chairs to relax on, sunscreen, and bug spray.
If you have a canoe you want to bring along, this same area is good for dropping it in the creek. Check out a map and plan your route. You’ll want to have an exit plan to get back to your car.
Fall Activities at Fort Harrison
Fall foliage in the autumn at Fort Harrison is top-notch. The golden, red, and orange hues are beautiful. You may come across some family photo sessions because the surroundings really are spectacular. Hit the trails and hear the freshly fallen leaves crunch under your hiking boots.
Additional Activities at Fort Harrison State Park
*These activities will have a separate price and are not included with general gate admission.
Hoosier Trail Rides at Fort Harrison
For the horse lover in your family, the Hoosier Trail Rides house their steeds at Fort Ben from March through the second week of November. They usually house thirteen horses. Rides start at $20 (cash only) for a thirty-minute trail ride. On your trail ride, you may cross through creeks and teeter on cliffs. The horses are well accustomed to the route and are very safe. There is no weight limit but you need to be able to get on and off the horse unassisted and maintain balance while sitting in the saddle. Riders must be at least eight years old.
Pony rides are perfect for the little ones. A fun, short ride through the area with their adult leading the way is a great way to spend $5. Kids 7 and under can ride the ponies.
In 1995, the United Stae Department of the Interior approved the State of Indiana’s request to convert 1700 of the 2500-acre post into a state park and nature preserve. “The Fort” golf course was a product of this declaration. Schedule a tee time for their 18-hole course on their website. All reservations include the use of a golf cart. Save some money with a twilight booking.
The Garrison Restaurant
Find fresh home-style meals for brunch or lunch at The Garrison. Enjoy a Hoosier-style pork tenderloin or pulled pork bbq. They also have a loaded soup and salad bar! The Garrison hosts seasonal events like a Father’s Day Brunch or Breakfast with Santa.
The Fort Harrison State Park Dog Park
8725 Fall Creek Road
Leashed dogs are welcome within the park, but visitors may want a space for their four-legged family members to run free. The Fort Harrison State Park Dog Park is not accessible from the main park. It is on the North side of the park and accessible from Fall Creek Road. While area residents should consider becoming annual State Park Pass holders, visitors can buy a 7-day pass for $15. These pet owners must complete the application, provide vaccination records, and sign the waiver of liability just as year-long pass holders do.
Fort Harrison State Park Hours
Regular Season: April-October, 7 am-dusk*
Off Season: November-March, 8 am-dusk*
*For dusk closing hours, check the posting at the front gate
5830 N Post Road
- Fort Ben Harrison- Winter Hike - 16 Dec 2023 - 09:00