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

backpacking
6 days ago

Good trail, don't do it after a rain though, trail will be really muddy.

I loved this trail, it was pretty well maintained with just a couple trees down. There wasn’t much in the way of scenic outlooks due to the thick canopies. I camped the first day close to the lake and spent the next day hiking the trail and then returning the same day, which was much tougher than I had imagined it would be. This trail promises a hardcore leg workout, which gave me a great sense of accomplishment after I’d given my calves a much needed rest.
Besides a few people loading boats into the lake, I never saw another person for my two days there, which I certainly didn’t mind. Another thing about this trail was that I didn’t notice many areas where someone could setup a camp due to the constant inclines and declines of the hills. I ended up using permethrin and only had two bites while I was there, although I did find three ticks on my shoes as well. The little flies were driving me crazy as they dive-bombed my ears and eyes, but this is pretty much the case on any trail this time of year.

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.

This shouldn't even be listed or labeled on here if you can't go hiking.

trail and hike was great BUT like the good State of IN. no notices of logging, closures and detours. We hiked within .25mi of night shelter and was met with closures and detour. Sleeping out is great except when one has planned for a shelter for the night.
Other than the unannounced closures and Detours the trail is good the hike was great.

backpacking
17 days ago

Our plan was to complete the trail in two days and one night. The trail is pretty challenging with lots of ups and downs. There is a reroute on the Southwest edge of the trail that includes a road walk and an incredibly muddy horse trail that was pretty terrible. Can't speak for the East side of the trail (see story below) but the West half was very overgrown in parts and has a very high Deer & Wood Tick presence. We pulled about 2 dozen off my legs alone after our first day despite Permethrin treated clothing and Picaridin bug spray application. Water is very scarce on this trail as well, with lots of dry creekbeds. Most of the water sources that we found were contaminated with horse excrement due to the high volume of horseback riders.

Hiked approximately 15 miles the first day (counting the reroute) starting at Rock Creek Trailhead and moving counterclockwise. Before we started hiking we cached two gallons water where the trail crosses Cold Friday Road, by the time we got to the cache the following evening, someone had taken every drop of our water. This left us exhausted, with very little water, and the sun just off the horizon. Ended up having to cut our trip short and road walk out the next morning. Thankfully we were able hitchhike on a local's tailgate back to our car. My suggestion would be to hide and label your water if you decide to cache water. Hopefully someone isn't as inconsiderate to your adventure as they were to ours.

hiking
22 days ago

Beautiful Trail, travels through diverse environs and ends at a beautiful lake setting. The trail is wide in most places and suitable for younger hikers, if they can handle the distance (4.5 mi). Truthfully, the best campsites are 15-30 min hike from the parking lot. We'll most likely do that next time and day-hike to the lake. It can and did get muddy after the rain as the horses dig up the trail pretty good. You should be prepared for possible muddy conditions. (now the bad part) My wife and I went on Memorial Day weekend. There was moderate traffic during the day and we arrived to the lake in the late afternoon. By that time the lake was hopping and packed like a Lake Havasu Spring Break. What I didn't know is that the boaters come over in the morning and take all the established (read: good) campsites and then go out boating all day. By the time hikers get there all that is left is primitive or non-established sites. Campsite rules pretty much go out the window and everyone was putting up a tent wherever there was an open spot.

Very challenging trial, marked ok, but no water sources, creeks are always dry, Mid-May we were constantly pulling ticks off.

This trail is not moderate. I do not get it.

backpacking
26 days ago

Easy trail with a fantastic end view of Lake Monroe. Trail has a lot of variety of scenic view

Great trail. May 2018 backpacking trip for our Scout Troop, shakedown hike for an Alaska backcountry trip in July. All the elevation changes had a few of us adults smoked, but the Scouts did awesome! We got caught out in a thunderstorm, but the trail conditions held up nicely. Blazes were reasonably easy to follow. Unfortunately, no real place to camp on the western end of the trail if you have a very large group (17 hikers) like we did), although there's a really pretty spot overlooking the lake if you're just one or two. "HARD" rating well deserved.

backpacking
1 month ago

I hated this trail. It was marked fine but terrain that could have easily been done with switchbacks was straight up and down. We did most of it in two days, but ended up hitching it out at our second water drop because the second shelter was closed due to logging. We didn't find out until we got to the first shelter.

backpacking
1 month ago

Mother’s Day weekend hike! Great time! Few suggestions- we had intentions of hiking it counter clockwise after reading the reviews - but if you park at the main Trailhead- you can only hike clockwise- for an overnight trip- if you go clockwise the second day is mostly uphill which stunk! But we had a great camp site on the edge of Indian Lake- and the traffic was very low! Will do this one again - and will park past the trailhead on the road and use a connector trail to go counter clockwise!

backpacking
1 month ago

backpacked this weekend from Indian hills to low gap backcountry area. I planned to retrace my route tomorrow back to my car but the total disruption to the trail experience by the multiple timber harvests made me change my mind. instead getting a ride in the morning back to my car.
The actual trail is good and well marked but the reroutes leave you bushwacking or road walking for miles on end.
Lutheran Hills and the Foxes Den Shelter area are supposed to be closed based on signage but it wasnt on trail site so I went anyways and regretted it. It seems the lumber company used the trail and blocked it more than any other area.
Kudos to the volunteers who have cleared the trails and blazed them - great work!! I really wanted to love this trail but I was left wanting a less unstable trail. I am really disappointed in how Yellowwood Forest has been pillaged.

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 .

backpacking
1 month ago

Avoid the Northern part of the loop and the temporary gravel road connector (normal connector is closed). Logging from the past and current has ruined the Northern part of the trial, sad. You can make a worthwhile trip backpacking the Southern side clockwise, staying on Indian Lake, then backtrack the way you came in. Be ready to deal with mud, but plenty of water sources end of April.

I was able to walk it in a day but I started at 6 A.M. and finished at 8:30 P.M. It is a challenging trail with plenty of hills to climb. I would recommend taking at least 2 days to hike it if you have time. Also pay close attention at the detour to stay on the right trail. I didn't rate it very high because the woods are logged and there's not much to see. I would rather hike in old growth forests where you don't have to worry about getting sunburnt, but if your looking for a challenge this is the place to go.

This trail is amazing for Southern Indiana. I backpacked the trail in about 31 hours by myself at a higher-moderate pace. Plan on bringing about 3-4 gallons depending on your length of stay. There are great places to plant water along the route as well as a couple of maps online to plan ahead. During spring, the river portion of the trail was extremely muddy and the trail became more of a guess and check mentality. Certain routes at about the halfway point were closed down due to forestry efforts in the area, but the re-route wasn't bad at all. Definitely would recommend

well marked challenging trail with great views.

hiking
1 month ago

Nice trail for central Indiana. The biggest negative would be the good chunk that was on a gravel road. We ran into maybe 5 other groups on the trail on a Sunday, so it's reasonably secluded. The spring vegetation was beautiful. Others suggest going clockwise, but we went counter clockwise and were happy we did. The most beautiful section was at the beginning for us, when we weren't tired. If we had seen the best part after 8 miles, we probably wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.

backpacking
1 month ago

Difficult trail from ascent/descent to water availability to navigation.

backpacking
1 month ago

Indian Lake section much better than Celina Lake section but overall decent hike. Several stream crossings that could be tricky if water high. Long ascent/descent getting to Indian Lake from either side. Muddy in sections due to recent rains. Good backcountry camping spots throughout although it was a little busy 4/21. Avoid gravel road shortcut at all costs and stay on loop.

backpacking
1 month ago

A beautiful trail with challenging hills! We hiked from the Deam Trailhead to Delaney Creek in 3 days. Found the trail very well-blazed, easy to stay on track even through the horse and ATV intersections. The trail was well maintained until Spurgeon Hollow, then quite a few downed trees required some clambering around. Look out for fuzzy poison ivy vines crossing the trail in quite a few spots! Overall a very rewarding hike. I’d like to hike it in the fall to see the foliage, but would not want to do that much cardio during the hot summer days. After lots of rain and snow in the months prior to our hike, water was plentiful in almost every seasonal creek on the trail. We could have easily gotten by without caching water, but did leave stashes at hwy 160 and the Elk Creek Trailhead to be sure.

backpacking
1 month ago

Did the loop CW on 4/21 with an overnight on the west shore of Indian Lake. A few fallen trees and a little muddy in spots but overall very good

backpacking
1 month ago

This was a challenging, but fun, trail. We started out last Friday and finished Sunday. I must say, the Southern part of the trail is much more difficult than the Northern. At one point West of the Old Iron Bridge, there is no trail. Only thick mud so it was difficult to follow anything and very slow going for about a mile and a half. Friday we hammock camped at the Pioneer shelter and woke up to a downpour. From there, hiking counter clockwise, we hit the detour which includes a road hike for about a mile or so. Once back on the trail it was decent for the rest of the detour. Although. it does take you on a horse trail, which in the rain, is a muddy mess. Night 2 we stayed at the Indian Creek shelter, again in our hammocks and the rain came again. The 9 mile hike out the next day was a breeze. Overall this is a very nice trail with some challenging climbs. Especially in the rain. We didn't need our water drops either day because there was water EVERYWHERE. I will caution you, when we got there Friday morning, everything was dry. So, if you're going and there is not a 100% chance of rain, drop off water.

Hikers need to be aware that there have been some changes to the trail. Check the Hoosier Hikers Council website for a more recent map.

hiking
2 months ago

I have had this hike on my to do list for a few years now. The forecast called for the low 70’s and I jumped in my car. A few thoughts.
1) The trail head was easy to find- just a mile or so on the left as you enter the park.
2). There is nothing to not like about this trail. It’s a lot easier than the Adventure Hiking trail down the road in O Bannon Woods State Park.
3). The trail, for the most part, was easy to follow. There were a few places where flooding had washed out small sections of the trail.
4). There is some logging going on during parts of the hike. If you begin going counter clockwise, you will get the worst of it over, early in the hike.
5. If you are backpacking, there are a few really good spots to camp overlooking the lake.
6) i saw a few dear.
7). With two bottles of water and some snacks, I was back at the car in about 4 hours with muddy shoes.
8) if you looking for some solitude, you will find it on this hike.

hiking
2 months ago

Pretty fun trail! A lot more up and down than expected. Be sure to pack lots of water and drop off water at one of the shelters along the trail.

The area west of the Old Iron Bridge along the river becomes a thick muddy swamp for 1.5 miles. It's slow going and can be hard to follow the trail.

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