This article was written by Eric Ivie
Hello there, Indianapolis parents! Greetings from Hendricks County!
For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Hendricks County is located just to the west of you, and we are home to McCloud Nature Park.
People around here love McCloud Nature Park, and I think Indianapolis parents will too. Here’s why:
Commune with Nature at McCloud Nature Park
McCloud Nature Park is 232 acres of awesomeness for adults and kids who love nature. The park is full of woods, prairie, hills, and wide open spaces for throwing the Frisbee or the ball around.
Big Walnut Creek runs through the park, where you can fish and wade in the water and skip rocks. There are over six miles of hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts of all skill levels to explore the flora and fauna of the area. Some of the trails lead hikers over a neat restored iron truss bridge that’s over a century old.
Bring your pets if you want (just please clean up after them). And of course, bring your kids (probably should clean up after them, too).
Planning a family reunion? Wedding reception? Corporate get-together? There is a pavilion at McCloud Nature Park that’s available to rent year-round.
Nature Center at McCloud Nature Park
McCloud Nature Park has a cool Nature Center full of exhibits about local wildlife, plant life, birds, insects, and all kinds of nature stuff.
There’s a bird-watching area within the Nature Center (you sit inside; the birds are outside), interactive computers, a greenhouse, artwork, interpretive exhibits, and even a small library where you can learn more about nature.
And, of course, there’s a park naturalist inside the Nature Center who is happy to answer any questions that you or your kids can think of.
Events at McCloud Nature Park
McCloud Nature Park is home to a lot of popular events that are open for anyone to enjoy. Some of their more prominent events are:
- Maple Sirup Days. (Yes, I spelled “sirup” correctly.) There are a bunch of maple trees in McCloud Nature Park, and their sap is harvested and converted to sirup. Bring the kids to this annual event in March, and they can learn some history, participate in some interactive experiences, learn the difference between sirup and syrup, and even taste some sirup and some maple candy.
- Workshops. McCloud Nature Park hosts a myriad of workshops throughout the year, teaching families about stargazing, how to make bat houses or bird houses, how to track the weather, where to find nocturnal animals, and much more. Many of those workshops fit perfectly into Scouting badge programs. They have a website with an online events calendar that you should really check out.
- Summer Programs. Looking for something for the kids to do during the summer months? McCloud Nature Park offers a wide variety of summer programs on topics such as birds of prey, insects and butterflies, outdoor survival skills, fish, and more.
- Prairie Maze. You’ve heard of corn mazes, right? At McCloud Nature Park, they create a huge maze in the prairie in the weeks leading up to Halloween. The pattern is different each year, and my kids always look forward to navigating it. To learn more about the prairie maze, click here.
- Fall Festival. Coinciding with the annual prairie maze is the annual Fall Festival in October at McCloud Nature Park, where you can get the whole family in the mood for autumn by making apple cider, building scarecrows, hiking the trails, and observing the stunning fall foliage. To learn more, click here.
Entry to McCloud Nature Park is free, and the vast majority of their programs and events are free as well. We love free stuff out here in Hendricks County. Do Indianapolis parents like free stuff, too?
Basically, McCloud Nature Park is a mecca for kids, adults, families, nature enthusiasts, photographers, hikers, anglers, Scouts, pets, explorers, historians, adventurers ……..
Come on out to McCloud Nature Park and check it out for yourself!
Eric Ivie is a married father of two daughters and has lived and worked in Hendricks County since 1999. He is a freelance writer who blogs for, among several clients, Visit Hendricks County. He also publishes They’re Our Kids – a free online resource for parents, not unlike Indy with Kids, but focusing on Hendricks County and the surrounding area. It wouldn’t hurt Eric’s feelings at all if you checked out TheyreOurKids.org and gave TOK’s Facebook page a “like.”
8518 Hughes Rd