dogs on leash


trail running

kid friendly


nature trips




wild flowers

Shades State Park is that peaceful place you've been looking for. Located about 17 miles southwest of Crawfordsville (off S.R. 47), it is a favorite for hikers and canoeists. The beautiful sandstone cliffs overlooking Sugar Creek and numerous shady ravines provide the backdrop for your journey through this nature lover's paradise. Adjacent Pine Hills Nature Preserve affords spectacular topography for those willing to take a fairly long hike.

2 days 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.

beautiful scenery and a lot to explore and see. I'd rate this as more moderate but there a quite a few stairs and inclines. Paths are marked and clear.

The Shades has the best trails in the state. Prepare to walk in creekbeds and take extra shoes and socks.

Beautiful, large variety of difficulty.

10 days 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.

16 days 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.

20 days 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.

24 days 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.

24 days ago

This along with trail 8 has become my favorite trail at The Shades. We began on an easy trail from the campground to the main trailhead. Once we got to trail 7 we descended down Kickapoo Ravine to Sugar Creek. We went directly to Sugar Creek instead of taking the stairs that ascended back up the ravine. Once we reached Sugar Creek we turned left to meet up with Trail 8, which ascends Shawnee Ravine. By taking the trails in this manner we were able to avoid most stairs and ascend using rugged ravine terrain instead of the stairs. It is also cooler in the ravines so during the summer especially I would reccomend taking the trail in this manner.

27 days 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.

30 days ago

Great views of the river. **Section of stairs was inaccessible right after the river overlook.**

30 days 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

1 month 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.

on Shades State Park Trail

1 month ago

The trails are challenging, as there are a lot of staircases and long sections of some of the trails are stream beds, but I LOVE this park! It’s a very fun hike! The campground isn’t huge, so even though it was full, I never felt crowded or as if I couldn’t enjoy the peace of the forests. The scenery is wonderful and well worth the soggy shoes

1 month ago

Trail 4 was the most challenging through the ravine with ladder climbing and stream walking. We enjoyed a sit in the river to cool off.

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.

we hiked a combination of trails 7&8. Some of the trail required navigating creek beds with slippery surfaces. Trail 8 would not be recommended for inexperienced or poorly conditioned hikers.

Great trail with some good views! With the exception of climbing over two 4-5 foot rock bluffs and one steep downhill climb the rest of the trail was moderate.

2 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.

2 months ago

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

This was a great hike! Would definitely go back.

2 months ago

Fun hike

on Trail #10

3 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 .

3 months ago

The views are beautiful. markings are a little confusing.

4 months ago

took the kids today. we had fun!

Just came off trail and it was fantastic. One of my new favorite places. A must see. It just rained two days ago and the water in the creeks was running fast something to definitely see and do. Going back tomorrow and adding in a couple shades trails.

5 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!

5 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.

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