Explore the most popular birding trails in Shades State Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

We followed a well marked trail to a very nice camp site with plenty of options for hanging a hammock. As we explored the nearby creek, we spotted a ring necked snake and a five lined gecko. Couldn’t believe it! This is a lovely park with plentiful trail options. When you leave stop by Hershey’s Drive Inn in Veedersberg for a burger and a malt.

hiking
3 months ago

one of my favorite trails. so much climbing and exploring to be done on this trail. sites to see the whole way. you are basically climbing up the creek bed and its awesome. be careful some slippery areas. water fall was beautiful I could hang out there all day.

4 months ago

I loved this trail and will be back. I went counterclockwise because I didn't read the reviews before our trip. However, I took a long rest by the water before going up all the stairs and it was lovely.

The trail is well marked, but is closer to 3 miles instead of the 2.25-2.5 that I've read elsewhere. There's not a lot to look at along the way, but is about the right distance for a family. The fact that there is water, an outhouse and firewood are added benefits for a family trip.

The trail is wide enough to walk side by side in some sections, while in others it's barely a foot wide, with brush rubbing against your legs. where we went under the power lines, the weeds were over our heads and rubbing against us. Despite having only sprayed our knees and below, we all made it out without ticks or chiggers.

Firewood is self-serve, just deposit the $5 fee in the slot. If you can't register up front, the ranger will come collect and register you, but be aware that unlike the firewood fee, the campsite is actually $12.84, because they collect tax.

This trail is a nice feature that would be nice to see at more Indiana DNR properties.

hiking
4 months ago

This trail was a blast! We took the recommended clockwise path...thank god. That would have been a lot of stairs back to the top. Once at the bottom you will be rock and tree hopping your way back up. Would be one of the more difficult hikes for small children. Our 9 year old had fun with it though.

4 months ago

Took the trail clockwise as suggested. That was a good choice. Being fairly new to hiking, this trail was a challenge for me. The stairs and climb up the creek bed really tested my legs. Beautiful scenery and well worth the drive from Indianapolis. I will be back.

4 months ago

This is a beautiful fun trail. You can make it moderate to rugged or easy depending on which turn you take. This is clearly marked on the trail maps provided at the entrance to the campground. The rugged section contains ladders and ascends a ravine.

hiking
4 months ago

None gorge section is easy-moderate. Gorge section is not difficult but very rugged. Went with my 11 year old daughter without much trouble. We descended the gorge but plan on ascending the gorge the next time around to make it more challenging. Watch your footing while hiking. Many loose rocks and logs. Only hike with 10+ year old child with them following your lead. Overall would rate moderate trail with rugged sections. Definitely worth it and would recommend if you are even out of shape like myself.

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful trail. Our 9 year old son had a blast on this trail. Several small caves to check out and some beautiful waterfalls. Also very pet friendly

hiking
4 months ago

Beautiful hike. Many massive rock cliffs. Feet get wet (thankfully, it was hot!) as you wander thru the creek bed. Refreshing waterfalls! Keep your eyes open for the funky mushroom varieties.

First of all, Be careful of the wood stairs and wood foot-bridges when it’s wet. They are all very slippery! I almost fell down a thirty foot fight of stairs while it was pouring. I slid down five steps, but luckily I was able to grab the rail with my arm.

Backpacked and camped at the backpacking campground this weekend with my 6yo daughter. The campsites are nice. Water, privy and firewood are available.
No need to request firewood to be delivered as told in the trail description. There are bundles stacked up in a small wood shelter, and there is a slot to drop your money, $5 per bundle.
You must register for your campsite at the main gate and it costs $12 plus tax per night. Seven sites are available and they’re on a first-come-first-serve basis.
The raccoons are aggressive so don’t leave your food or trash out unattended even for a few minutes. I went it to my tent to get my daughter ready for bed, and I heard something fall from the pic-nick table. A raccoon snagged our six pound food bag, and I had to chase him 100ft down the trail and into the woods to get it back!
Friday night there was only one other group of campers. We were the only ones there on Saturday. There’s lots of animal sounds at night, many I couldn’t recognize.
The canoe camp is less than a half mile walk away from the backpacking camp. There is a very nice view of Sugar Creek from there. I was surprised that we didn’t see anyone camped there either night. Though, there was quite a bit of rain this past weekend. As far as registration for The canoe camp, no need to register at the gate as the ranger will come around in the evening to collect fees from the canoe campers. As the park’s trail guide states, there is no limit to how many can camp there, all canoe campers must be accommodated as there are no other camping options.

camping
6 months ago

Trails at the Shades never disappoint. In my opinion Shades trails are the best in the state. For this particular trail I would do the trail clockwise (go left when the choice first presents itself). This will take you down the many many stairs and then up the ravine. Otherwise you will be climbing up the stairs and that is NO fun.

hiking
6 months ago

Could only do a portion due to closed trails. Still decent.

hiking
6 months ago

Fun hike

on Trail #10

7 months ago

Mostly gravel & rock ,very flat, a ok stroll through the woods ,, nothing to see until preserve. Which is worth seeing.. I would say ten is wheelchair accessible until preserve, for those who may want an outdoor adventure ..

Excellent trail for a quick overnighter, or for beginners .. The campsites were excellent , having the means of firewood, water and facilities right at camp is nice .Short walk to sugar creek ,.. My real only complaint is that the trail is so peppered with signage,..Prob, close to 50 signs on a 2.5 mile stretch.. Two dozen were completely not needed and takes away the feeling of "being out there" .. But , all in all , very nice. Would recommend .

hiking
7 months ago

The views are beautiful. markings are a little confusing.

8 months ago

took the kids today. we had fun!

9 months ago

it started as a moderate trail overlooking the sugar Creek but then you come to the huge staircase down into the ravine close to where the stream empties into sugar creek. The rest of the trail is a rugged journey back into the ravines as it gradually ascends back to the top. the whole time going against the stream's currant. we should have done this trail first instead of last. It kicked our butts. great trail!

9 months ago

Suggest taking the creek side first (clockwise) so you’re descending stairs and going down creek. Great trail with lots of creek walking.

hiking
Monday, November 20, 2017

Completed this trail in 2012. nice little trail, ladders made it fun.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Fun, short, and ladders...

hiking
Sunday, October 08, 2017

Very fun hike, walking up the ravine. Our ten-year-old loved it.

on Trail #5

hiking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Definitely had a Jurassic Park feel to it, love the terrain and plant diversity. Definitely recommend!

on Trail #10

hiking
Sunday, July 23, 2017

Great to have a trail connect the park and the nature preserve!

hiking
Sunday, July 09, 2017

Listed here as EASY. Park guide lists it as RUGGED/VERY RUGGED (1.25miles). As others have recommended, take the trail clockwise, which is to say, go left at the loop start. Steep descent down a couple hundred stair steps. Beautiful trek up Pearl ravine with nice rock/tree overhangs up to Maidenhair Falls (a small 6-8ft fall). A little further out of the ravine and then several series of more easily navigated stairs back to the trailhead. IMO, this is one of the more rugged trails in this part of the state.

i love this quite little trail and camp ground

hiking
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

There is a rugged section to trail that is at least considered moderate.

hiking
Saturday, June 03, 2017

Trail never disappoints! Less crowded than turkey run and just as pretty. Clockwise on loop and you'll do stairs down and walk up ravine/stream. Either way is great.

hiking
Sunday, March 05, 2017

I completed Trail #1 and #2 yesterday, and they were both great, pretty similar actually. Both are ravine trails, where the trail is essentially the stream bed. Hiking in a ravine stream bed is a really fun and unique hiking adventure. Walked away with an appreciation for the name of "Shades" -- the mid-day light is very different and beautiful down there.

Trail #1 features more shale rock in the trail, which is fun to walk on. Be sure to wear wear waterproof boots, and it's not a bad idea to keep a back-up pair of socks in your car for afterwards. It is still early in the season yet, but we didn't see any other hikers on the trail.

Protip: When you start out on the trail, and get to the loop, turn left, go down the stairs, and the first main attraction is the Silver Cascade falls, and then you'll hike up the ravine. IMO much better to go down those very steep steps than back up them.

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