Turkey Run State Park

Explore Breathtaking Turkey Run State Park

Written by Lisa Viaches

If you’re looking for some adventure 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 State Park would be a great day trip for any free day you might have coming up.

Turkey Run State Park boasts 2,382 acres of hiking trails, canyons, ravines, sandstone gorges, old-growth walnuts and sycamores, a scenic suspension bridge over Sugar Creek (known for great inner tube floating, canoeing, and fishing), a saddle barn, horseback riding, a nature center, an Inn with a restaurant, a park, and a swimming pool.

Turkey Run State Park

Hike 1 of 10 Trails

The hiking at Turkey Run State Park is unlike any hikes I’ve done in Indiana and was more scenic than some 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 boulders, and some have many steps or ladders to climb up or down.

There is a long suspension bridge over Sugar Creek that you have to cross to access several trails. Even just crossing the bridge is fun with little ones. You can just walk to the other side to explore the grounds and come back.

Visit Animals at the Nature Center

The nature center on site is a good starting point. There is a large parking lot and bathrooms are 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. Check their website for any events or special programs that might be going on the day you’ll be there. It’s a nice respite from the sun on a hot day. After the stop at the nature center, we set off to cross the suspension bridge and start our hikes!

Parking, Restrooms, Food, & Lodging Options

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 indoor restrooms. The Inn also has a full-service restaurant with a  lunch buffet so if you don’t want to have to worry about packing lunch, you can plan a stop at the Inn. The Inn also offers a game room, a gift shop, vending machines, and a lounge where you can get out of the heat for a little bit. It’s just nice to rest inside in the air conditioning on a very hot day.

Turkey Run Inn is a hotel with a pool if you wish to hike for a couple days and want to stay overnight. They have a pool and fire pits available to guests. There are also stand-alone cabins right next to the Inn for more rustic and private lodging. Or you can RV or tent camp on site at the Turkey Run State Park Campground.

Getting There

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 side and hiked around there after lunch. Park hours are 7:00 am – 11:00 pm and entrance to the park is $7 ($9 out-of-state).

Turkey Run State Park With Kids

Children, teens, and adults of all ages would absolutely love spending a day at Turkey Run State Park. 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 State Park is even doable as just a morning excursion. We took our 5-year-old and 22-month-old from about 10:30 am to 2:30 pm and enjoyed a full morning of hiking 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, printed directions, 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.

Keep Exploring!

I went in the summer with my family and it was so shaded throughout that we were quite comfortable even on a sweltering day. I cannot wait to return in the fall to see 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 State Park is dog-friendly?!). After conquering Turkey Run State Park, you’ll want to keep exploring! Here are 20 breathtaking places to go hiking near Indianapolis with kids!

8121 E. Park Road

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