Indiana may be best known for its flatlands and cornfields, but there’s much more to the Hoosier State than its infamous agriculture! With so much variegated terrain, particularly in the southern portion of the state, Indiana is full of some breathtaking natural habitats and stunning views. And what better way to enjoy such beauty than on a hiking trail?
Read on for a roundup of some of the best trails to go hiking in Indiana…from casual meanders for folks of all ages, to challenging hikes that will take you to the heights of what the Crossroads of America has to offer.
Best Easy Trails for Hiking in Indiana
1. West Beach – Dune Succession Trail (Indiana Dunes)
If you are visiting the Indiana Dunes and are looking for some easy hiking with memorable landscapes and fantastic views, you’ll love the West Beach Dune Succession Trail! This one-mile loop hike starts at the parking lot, loops alongside West Beach to offer a breathtaking view of the lake, then returns to the parking lot.
Taking an average of 22 minutes to complete, the Dune Succession Trail is a mainstay trail for hiking in Indiana, and is a favorite for people of all ages visiting the Indiana Dunes. This is a very kid-friendly and also a dog-friendly trail, though canine walking companions must be leashed at all times.
2. Camp Creek Trails & Fall Creek Trails (Fort Harrison State Park)
Need some easy hiking in the Indianapolis area? The Camp Creek Trails and Fall Creek Trails in Fort Harrison State Park are the perfect option! This loop of trails is just under three miles and takes an average of about an hour to complete.
There’s plenty of majestic woodland scenery and broad field views along this route, so you can enjoy the best of all that hiking in Indiana has to offer without too much exertion!
This trail is open year round and is also popular for mountain bikers, snowshoers, and dog walkers, provided canine companions remain leashed at all times.
3. South Overlook Waterfowl Sanctuary Trail (Eagle Creek State Park)
Eagle Creek State Park is known for some of the best water access in central Indiana, with its many lakes and ponds and of course, its position encompassing the upper portion of Eagle Creek Reservoir.
One of the best ways to enjoy these waterfront views is to take the Southern Overlook Waterfowl Sanctuary trail, which curls around the Waterfowl Sanctuary located within the heart of the reservoir. Surrounded by water on both sides, this unique trail is a real gem of hiking in Indiana! It’s also open year round, so you can enjoy hiking and birdwatching any time of the year.
The South Overlook Waterfowl Sanctuary Trail stretches over a two-and-a-half-mile loop and usually takes about 50 minutes to complete. Along the way, you are likely to meet other hikers, runners, and birdwatchers, as well as some leashed dogs.
4. Ogle Lake Trail 7 (Brown County State Park)
Brown County State Park is among the most popular locations for hiking in Indiana. Among those, the Ogle Lake Trail Seven is one of the most popular. This easy hiking trail goes on a loop for just over a mile around Ogle Lake, taking an average of 23 minutes to complete the circuit.
Lovely forest scenery and breathtaking waterfront views await on this easy paced hiking trail, which is best enjoyed in the warmer months—typically from March through November. Along the way, you are likely to encounter other hikers, as well as runners and folks who are enjoying some lakeside birding.
You are welcome to bring your canine companion along for the hike, but they must be kept on leash at all times.
5. Mount Saint Francis Loop Trail (Floyds Knobs)
“Mount” is not usually a word you may associate with Indiana terrain. But don’t let the name fool you! Despite its lofty title, the Mount Saint Francis Loop Trail is a mostly flat, relatively easy trail for hiking in Indiana.
This loop trail is on the longer side, close to three miles total and taking a little over an hour on average to complete. However, that hour will find you in some truly breathtaking scenery, from deep woodlands views to tranquil waterfront sights. You can spot plenty of wildlife in the forest and within the water as you hike the loop.
There are also some glimpses of fun architecture along the Mount Saint Francis Loop Trail, including woodland bridges, memorial benches, and more. This wonderful trail is open all year round, but can be particularly breathtaking in fall hues or after a newly fallen snow.
Canine hikers are also welcome, but must be leashed.
Best Moderate Trails for Hiking in Indiana
6. Cowles Bog Trail (Indiana National Dunes)
If you are on the hunt for a slightly more challenging trail for hiking in Indiana, with infinite rewards for your effort, then you will certainly want to hike the Cowles Bog Trail at the Indiana National Dunes! This area was named a National Natural Landmark in 1965, and with good reason.
As you hike the over four-mile loop of Cowles Bog Trail, you will witness so much natural splendor. From blackwood savannas to marshes to beaches to interdune water bodies teeming with all sorts of life, this trail truly has it all.
The hike up the dunes can be a bit challenging, but the breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and the beaches make it all worth it once you crest those dunes. Consider bringing a lunch and staying a while to enjoy the fruits of your hike, before you start back down the loop to return to the parking lot.
7. Trail #3 (Turkey Run State Park)
Turkey Run is another state park infamous for offering some of the best hiking in Indiana. Among the most beloved hiking trails at Turkey Run is Trail #3. This trail offers a moderate challenge, stretching roughly two miles in a loop that crosses over Sugar Creek.
Vaulting cliffs and deep woodlands await on this hiking trail, as well as waterfall views, plenty of wildlife to encounter, and so much more. Be sure to bring sturdy, waterproof shoes when hiking Trail #3 at Turkey Run, and make sure your doggy hikers are leashed.
8. Three Lakes Trail (Morgan Monroe State Forest)
If you are looking for a much longer hike to enjoy, the Three Lakes Trail in the Morgan Monroe State Forest of south-central Indiana is the trail to hit! One of the longest loop trails for hiking in Indiana, the Three Lakes Trail takes you on a majestic view of two lakes (the third having been drained after an unfortunate levee failure in the 1990s).
Nevertheless, the two remaining lakes and the stunning forestry makes this hike well worth the visit. Traverse the variegated terrain, cross the woodlands and wetlands, and enjoy all that this trail has to offer in all seasons!
9. Lawrence Creek Trail (Fort Harrison State Park)
Craving the feeling of losing yourself in the heart of the woods, away from the craziness of urban life? You can catch a slice of wilderness freedom while enjoying Lawrence Creek Trail, one of the best trails for hiking in Indiana.
This popular and beloved trail winds through Fort Harrison State Park in central Indiana. The four-and-a-half-mile loop trail is best enjoyed from April through September, though some folks enjoy tracking wildlife by footprints after heavy snows.
The scenery along the Lawrence Creek Trail is spectacular, with plenty of views of soaring trees and steep ravines. Sturdy footwear is recommended, particularly as the trail can get muddy at times.
Best Hard Trails for Hiking in Indiana
10. 6 Ravine Challenge (Shades State Park)
If you are looking to challenge yourself on some of the hardest hiking in Indiana, the 6 Ravine Challenge at Shades State Park is a great place to get your blood pumping! This nearly five-mile loop trail takes over two hours to complete on average.
Along the way, you will encounter more than just some steep ravines. There are even some places where you will need to use a ladder to vault out of some of the canyons! But don’t let the challenge deter you. The payoff for braving these heights and depths is some truly spectacular natural beauty that just can’t be found on easier hikes.
11. Two Lakes Loop Trail (Indian-Celina Lakes Recreation Area)
Brace yourself for some of the most challenging but rewarding hiking in Indiana when you traverse the Two Lakes Loop Trail at the Indian-Celina Lakes Recreation Area! This remote trail is for hiking only, making for a quiet and often secluded experience.
Stretching around a loop of over 12 miles, this hike can take an average of more than five hours to complete. You have the option to try and tackle it all in one day, or do some backpacking along the loop and split the hike up into two days.
Whichever option you prefer for tackling this trail, you will find your time here rewarded with majestic views of the hardwood forests and the two lakes, Indian and Celina, for which the loop and the recreation area itself are named. You are also likely to spot songbirds, deer, and wild turkeys as you hike the remote parts of this trail.
Be sure to bring sturdy footwear and come well-equipped for the steeper trail sections that dot the loop.
12. Knobstone Trail (Deam Lake State Recreation Area)
We’ve saved the longest—and arguably the overall best hiking in Indiana!—for last.
The Knobstone Trail is the longest footpath in the Hoosier State. It stretches nearly fifty miles, beginning at the Deam Lake Trailhead and ending at either the Delaney Park Trailhead or the Spurgeon Hollow Trailhead. This full trail takes an average of nearly 20 hours to complete!
For that reason, the Knobstone Trail is typically tackled over the course of multiple days. You can also break up the hike into specific quadrants for day hiking. Some of the most popular areas within the Knobstone Trail are the Pixley Knob to Deam Lake Trail and the John Grubb Ridge and Terrill Ridge Loop Trails.
Hikers tackling the entire Knobstone Trail should come prepared with sturdy footwear, backpack camping gear, and knowledge of backpacking and camping in remote areas. You should also always bring plenty of water, as water sources are not always reliable along this trail.
Wrapping up the Best Trails to Go Hiking in Indiana
Ready to bust out your gear and enjoy some time on the best trails to go hiking in Indiana? Before you take off for your adventure, be sure to check out our recommendations for hiking boots! These reviews and suggestions will help equip you with the best footwear to enjoy a blister-free, sturdy, steady day (or several days!) of hiking in Indiana.