Turkey Run State Park: Ideal Visiting Time and Best Trails

One of the best state parks in Indiana is Turkey Run State Park. It is, in actuality, the second state park in Indiana. There is something for every visitor who enjoys the outdoors and history on the 2,382 acres. Before you make travel plans to the highly recommended Turkey Run State Park, read on to find out the best trails and the best time to visit.

Turkey Run State Park

The idea that Indiana is just made up of flat farmland is refuted by the geology of Turkey Run State Park. The park’s distinctive rock formations provide visitors with a window into the region’s evolution over millions of years, during the time when the glaciers were melting.

While hiking through the canyons, hikers can take in further historical relics. The Mansfield sandstone’s exposed bedrock made it simple to locate coal resources. As a result, before becoming a well-known state park, the natural wonder was a well-liked mining site in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Native Americans and early American settlers left behind a large number of buildings and relics in the park.

Turkey Creek State Park is accessible every day from 7 AM to 11 PM. Hiking paths are accessible from sunrise to sunset. Certain activities might be temporarily suspended or closed during the winter.

The Best Time to Visit Turkey Run State Park

It is up to you when to visit Turkey Run State Park at your convenience. Your experience at the well-known state park is influenced by the temperature, the surrounding landscape, and the volume of visitors that day. However, understanding what each season has to offer will help you choose the best time to go.

Indiana has lengthy, hot, muggy summers. There’s a constant 80 degree Fahrenheit temperature and a nearly constant risk of rain. It’s the busiest time of year at the park, despite the possibility of a storm or sunburn. Adults take time off work to spend much-needed time outside while children are not in school. You should go in the summer if you enjoy the sun and don’t mind crowds.

In contrast, spring and fall are kinder. But depending on the season, there are large variations in temperature in both. Additionally, rain is a nearly everyday likelihood. Expect high tides, which might cause trail closures for several days.

However, whereas other sections of the state receive a lot of snow, winter in the park is extremely cold and only seldom snowy or icy. Some of the worst weather is kept out of the park by the deep canyons. Nevertheless, snow causes pathways to close occasionally. The park isn’t extremely crowded in the winter because of the chilly weather. So, winter might be the ideal season for you to visit if you like to bundle up and travel alone.

What to Do at Turkey Run State Park Hiking

Turkey Run State Park boasts hiking paths spanning more than 14 kilometers. Hikers enjoy the popular activity, which leads them along rocky pathways into deep canyons and hemlock trees.

Starting from the suspension bridge above Sugar Creek, most trails lead in that direction. Ascending 70 steps to reach the bridge gives hikers a hard workout even before they start the trip. Hikers follow the paths through Rocky Hollow Falls Canyon, a wildlife sanctuary tucked away deep in the sandstone canyon, after crossing the bridge.

The hiking routes range in length and complexity and are identified by the numbers 1 through 11. It’s crucial to remember that many trails—aside from trailer 11—cross over ravines, which can make them uneven and slick.

Hikers with experience will love the 5 Mile Challenge, which leads them to the trails around the Nature Center. Depending on which way you start, the 5 Mile Challenge is a beautiful loop that requires hikers to ascend or descend 1,500 stairs and a ladder. It is advised that you finish the challenge in a clockwise direction so that you descend rather than ascend. The tasks in the challenge include Trials 3, 4, 5, 9, and 10.


There are numerous electric campsites available at Turkey Run State Park for RV and tent camping. They also feature a useful Camp Store and a Youth Tent Camp. For your convenience, the campsites have water supply areas, picnic tables, fire rings, electricity hookups, and bathrooms. If there are no open places and you still want to spend the night in the park, there are several campgrounds in the vicinity.

Kayaking and Canoeing

Turkey Creek State Park is centered by Sugar Creek, a well-liked canoeing destination in the state. It’s vital to remember that while canoe services are not available in the park, they are available at other points along Sugar Creek.

Sugar Creek is not a place to swim because of its potential for harm. There’s an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool on campus if you wish to go swimming.


Tourists adore Sugar Creek fishing in addition to kayaking. The picturesque river offers bass, bluegill, and other species to anglers. Remember that in order to fish in the river, you must have a state fishing license. At any of the two public access locations outside the park, you can also go boat fishing.

Historic Sites

Turkey Run State Park offers a number of historic locations for you to explore. Since every building dates back to the 1800s, guests can get a look into the pioneers’ lives in Indiana.

The Lieber Cabin is one such structure. The Lieber Cabin was built in 1918 and placed in Turkey Run State Park. It was made from tulip trees, which were widely used by early Americans to construct their homes. It is the park’s oldest structure.

Additionally, the Log Church was relocated to the park from its original location. Located at the park since 1923, the nondenominational church continues to provide services every Sunday starting on Good Friday and continuing through the end of October.

The Lusk residence is another location that evokes memories of the early settlers. In the middle of the 1800s, Captain Lusk erected a gristmill and his house. Tours of the renovated house are available during certain seasons.

Nature Center

To find out more about the area wildlife, stop into the Turkey Run State Park Nature Center. Check out the interactive exhibits and displays inside, or visit the theater to see a performance. Additionally, there are rooms with one-way glass that allow you to observe some of the park’s species.

Turkey Run State Park’s Greatest Trails: Trail 3

Hikers can traverse the rocky and demanding 1.7-mile Sugar Creek cliffs on Trail 3. The amazing glacial phenomenon known as the Ice Box is one of the route’s most distinctive characteristics. Hikers follow the trail through Bear Hollow’s walls after passing the Ice Box. Trail 3 features wooden ladders, in contrast to typical hiking pathways. To go from Bear Hollow back to the ridge top, hikers have to carefully ascend them.

Trail 3 to 5 to 9 Loop

The challenging 4.7-mile circle leads hikers through some of the most picturesque parts of the park. You’ll get to the “140 steps” portion after climbing the ladders to Trail 5. The verdant surroundings evoke scenes from a fable. Hikers proceed to Trail 9 from this point in order to traverse Boulder Canyon’s rocky grotto. The trail ends at the Ice Box overhang by the bridge, then makes a loop back to Falls Canyon.

Trail 3 to 10 to 9 to 5 Loop

Hikers can follow Sugar Creek via the Ice Box and reach the Camel’s Back overlook on the 5.5-mile, moderately strenuous loop. Hikers on Trail 10 pass via Rocky Hollow and several interesting rock formations. After passing through narrow forests, Trail 5 re-joins Trail 3 and descends the ladders to Bear Hollow.

Turkey Run Outer Loop

The 6.3-mile outer loop is a reasonably difficult route. At Boulders Pass, hikers traverse streams and ascend the rocks beside massive black walnut and sycamore trees. Hikers reach the historic Narrows Covered Bridge by traveling 3 miles on Trail 1, often known as the Big Tree Trail. Before continuing on Trail 2, you will pass Goose Rock, Lusk Earth Fill, and Box Canyon. Hikers can traverse the 1-mile Trail 2 via the Gypsy Gulch and under rugged cliffs before rejoining Trail 1 at Lusk Earth Fill.

Trail 4

Near the coal mine, the 2-mile walk parallels Sugar Creek upstream to the Narrows Covered Bridge and is rough and moderately strenuous. Before resuming Trail 3 near the Punch Bowl, a naturally occurring pothole created by glacial waters, you will also pass the Lusk residence.

Wildlife at Turkey Run State Park

It is unknown where Turkey Run Creek earned its name. One of the most commonly recognized stories, nevertheless, mentions the existence of wild turkeys that formerly flocked to the canyon bottom—sometimes referred to as “runs”—in search of warmth throughout the winter. The turkeys would then be herded through the passageways by early pioneers. Turkeys are sporadically visible, but fewer than you might anticipate for a place with a name like Turkey Run.

Visitors to the nature center can witness swarming honey bees, turtles, and snakes around their hive. Even birds and squirrels in a wildlife viewing exhibit might be fed by them.

Nature lovers can spot birds of many sizes, hues, and shapes while hiking. Indeed, it’s among the top locations for birdwatching. A variety of birds can be seen, including woodpeckers, swallows, rock doves, water thrushes, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and eagles.

The park is home to white-tail deer, beavers, turkey vultures, and tiny mammals including squirrels and reptiles. In a day, see how many creatures you can identify.