If you’re looking for something different to do with the kids this weekend, Turkey Run State Park is a fantastic getaway to enjoy nature, hiking, and breathtaking sights. Located less than an hour and a half away from Indianapolis, Turkey Run would be great for any free day you might have coming up.
Turkey Run boasts 2,382 acres of hiking trails, canyons, ravines, sandstone gorges, old-growth walnuts and sycamores, a fun suspension bridge over Sugar Creek (known for great tube floats, canoeing, and fishing), a saddle barn, horseback riding, a nature center, an Inn with a restaurant, and a park and swimming pool.
The hiking here is unlike any hikes I’ve done in Indiana and were more scenic than many of the hikes I’ve done in California! The trails take you through awe-inspiring canyons, next to flowing creeks, along sandstone cliffs, up and down rocky terrain, past waterfalls and some of the most beautiful sights imaginable right here in Indiana.
There are 10 trails, all .5 to 2 miles long, ranging from easy to moderate to rugged and very rugged. When they say rugged, they mean it! We tried to do a moderate\rugged trail and had to turn around halfway through because it was too treacherous (with a toddler). There are spots where you have to walk through flowing water, climb up or over rocks, and some have many steps or ladders to climb.
There is a long suspension bridge that you have to cross to access several trails across Sugar Creek. Even just crossing the bridge is fun with little ones. You can just walk to the other side and explore the grounds and come back.
The nature center on site is a great starting point. The parking lot is right next to it. There are bathrooms inside. You can grab a park map and ask the staff any questions about the trails. We were lucky enough to be there when they were doing a snake feeding, which my son really enjoyed. From there, we set off to cross the suspension bridge and start our hikes!
Restrooms, Food, & Lodging
There are two main parking lots. One by the nature center and one by the Turkey Run Inn. Both the nature center and Inn have restrooms. The Inn also has a full service restaurant and lunch buffet. So if you don’t want to have to worry about packing lunch, you can plan a stop at the Inn. It’s also just a nice time to rest inside in air conditioning if it’s a hot day. The Inn has rooms to stay overnight. There are also stand alone cabins right next to the Inn.
Turkey Run State Park is located directly west of the northwest corner of Indianapolis. It’s about an hour and 15 minutes from pretty much anywhere on the west side of 465. The entrance is on State Road 47 about two miles east of S.R. 41. I put the nature center in for the GPS and had no problems finding it. We parked at the nature center for the first couple hours of hiking then moved our car to the Inn and hiked around there after lunch.
Turkey Run With Kids
Children, teens, and adults of all ages would absolutely love spending a day at Turkey Run. There is so much to see and do. You could even stay the night and spend two days there exploring all of the trails.
If you have very young children, Turkey Run is even doable as just a morning excursion. We took our 5 year old and 22 month old from about 10:30am to 2:30pm for a full morning with naps in the car on the way home. Remember to read the trail descriptions listed and stick to the trails marked easy and moderate if you’re hiking with little ones.
We borrowed a friend’s infant carrier and could not have done without it as there is a lot of walking up and down steps and over rocks and creeks. The suspension bridge alone is about 70 steps down. Much of our time was spent playing in the creeks and collecting rocks, but the carrier was definitely needed for getting from here to there.
Don’t forget to bring: water, insect repellent, water shoes, a trail map, and snacks. You might also pack the car with an extra pair of shoes (my son somehow lost one in the mud in one of the creeks!), extra clothes, towels, and a walking stick if needed.
I went in the summer with my family and it was so shaded throughout that we were quite comfortable even on a very hot day. I cannot wait to return in the fall with the falling leaves and changing colors. My kids will be so excited to go back! My dog too (did I forget to mention Turkey Run is dog friendly?!).
8121 E. Park Road