Fort Harrison State Park: 2 Day Adventure

Fort Harrison State Park is a 1700-acre park located just 12 miles north of downtown Indianapolis, Indiana. Those 1700 acres offer hiking, biking, swimming, golfing, fishing, horseback riding, hayrides, bird watching, sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. You can even take a glance into history by visiting the military museum and preserved Citizens Military Training Camp near the visitor center. The infinite number of activities this park has to offer will take you through hardwood forest, prairies filled with lovely wildflowers, and along several stunning lakes, ponds, and streams. This is truly a year-round park you will not want to miss!

Entrance Fee: $7 In State Daily Entrance, $9 Out of State Daily Entrance

Lodging: Reservations for the Fort Harrison Inn, Harrison House and four Officers Homes (that sleep up to 12) can be made here at IndianaInns.com. No campground is available.

Dining: There are multiple picnic areas and shelters with available grills throughout the park. One restaurant is also available on site. The Garrison Restaurant is open daily from 11am-2pm for lunch (Garrison Lunch Menu). There are many dining options located just minutes outside the park as well.

Must Know Before You Go:

1. A change of clothes is always nice to have handy in any season at this park. Most trails are near plenty of water, especially the Fall Creek Trail. And while not necessary, the creek is very cool to wade through, especially in the hot summer months!

2. On Saturdays and Sundays, in most seasons, I recommend entering the park early. With only one entrance, any time after 10am, the line to enter the park is 20-30 cars deep and can be quite a wait. Once you are in the park, we have never had an issue with parking on even the busiest of days. There are several large parking areas throughout the entire park. Also, if you have an Indiana State Pass, you do not need to wait in line (we learned this the hard way!). Get in the right lane to flash your pass, and the ranger will let you right in😊

Cell Service: Available throughout the entire park.

2 Day Itinerary

Day 1

Visitor Center– When you enter the park, take the first left, and follow that road all the way past the saddle barns until it ends at the visitor center. This is a great place to grab a map, use the restroom and learn a little about the park before heading out! It is also very close to the first trail!

Schoen Creek Trail- This 3-mile trail is probably our favorite at this park! It is beautiful year-round and takes you through the hilly forest, prairies, and wetlands. You truly get to see a little bit of everything on this trail! The trickiest part of this trail is finding the parking lot! Follow the signs for the Millennium Grove Picnic Area, the picnic area will be on your left. Continue past that area until the road dead ends into the Schoen Creek Lot. Something to note- it is a hike AND bike trail. Bikers are required to yield to hikers and travel clockwise. Hikers may travel in either direction, but I would recommend taking this trail counterclockwise. The thick forest has several narrow switchbacks and bridges, so it is easier to see the bikers coming if you are traveling in the opposite direction. This trail is really lovely, easy to follow and perfect for all ages.

Harrison Trace Trail- This entire 3.2-mile trail is paved and perfect for a nice hike or bike ride! I would start this trail at either Delaware Lake or the Walnut Trailhead. If you start at Delaware Lake you will get the most difficult part over with first, making the rest of the trail downhill and quite easy! You will head up the paved path on the north side of the lake, go around Duck Pond(about a mile up) and head back down towards the lake. If you are hiking not biking this, I would recommend taking the boardwalk stairs on the south side of the lake to cut through to a stunning overlook and a great fishing spot between Delaware Lake and a small pond. If you walk straight through, it will drop you right back on the paved path so you can continue the rest of the trail! If biking, stay south at the lake to continue past cherry tree, past the sledding hill and through a beautiful, wooded area. The last mile, is an out and back, but probably our favorite part of this trail. Turn around at the end and head back to Delaware Lake. You will also pass two great playgrounds on this trail. The one across from the sledding hill is our favorite!

Day 2

Fall Creek/ Camp Creek Loop- To begin this 2-mile loop trail, park in the Delaware Lake lot. You will start at the northeast end of the parking lot, on the Fall Creek Trail. This lovely 1-mile trail to Duck Pond follows along Fall Creek (shocking, I know😉). Year round, my kids can be found playing and skipping rocks along the creek but in the summer months, when its particularly hot and humid, they love to swim or wade through the water on this hike! About a 0.5 mile in, there is a split, stay left (towards the creek) to continue through the Warbler Woods Nature Preserve to Duck Pond. Both ways will eventually get you to Duck Pond, but this route takes you past the boardwalk and Observation Deck which have wonderful views of the creek. Duck Pond is a wonderful area to explore and has picnic tables if you need to sit for a snack or lunch. When you are ready to head back, take the second Camp Creek Trail back to Delaware Lake. Either Camp Creek Trail will drop you off near Delaware Lake, we just prefer the most southern route back. This entire loop is perfect for all age groups!

Lawrence Creek Trail- This beautiful 4-mile loop trail will have you winding through thick forest that is full of wildflowers in the spring and summer and absolutely stunning with an explosion of color in the fall! Again, something to note- it is a hike AND bike trail. Bikers are required to yield to hikers and travel clockwise. Hikers may travel in either direction, but I would recommend taking this trail counterclockwise. The trail is very narrow, and the forest, especially in the summer months is very thick so it is easier to see the bikers coming if you are traveling in the opposite direction. We have done this trail several times and even on a busy holiday weekend we still only see 3-5 bikes on the whole trail so it’s not too bothersome. Also, at the very western part of this trail, there is an outer loop and inner loop. Both will end up in the same place, but if you take the outer loop this trail will run closer to 4.5 miles. If you want to skip the longer loop, I recommend starting this trail at the Lawrence Creek Trailhead instead of the Walnut Trailhead where you have to start on the outer loop.

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At the end of either of these days, there is plenty of time for fishing, golfing, biking and horseback riding in the spring, summer, and fall. And in the winter, there would be plenty of time for sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. It just depends on what your crew loves best! Also, for those with dogs- they are allowed on all trails but there is also a pretty sweet 11-acre dog park on site that our pups love!

Feel free to reach out with any questions!

Hope you have a wonderful adventure!

family photo for Always Exploring

Meet the Johnsons

Welcome to Always Exploring! We are the Johnsons. We would love to have you follow along as we explore the world one adventure at a time! Here you will find itineraries to all of our explorations that will hopefully be helpful in your own adventure planning!

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