McCormick’s Creek State Park is located in Spencer, Indiana about 60 miles south of Indianapolis. At just under 2,000 acres, it was founded in 1916 as Indiana’s first state park! The 10 miles of hiking trails will take you through lush, dense forest, a limestone canyon, along the lovely McCormick’s Creek and right up to a stunning waterfall. The park also offers opportunities to horseback ride, swim, fish, and even play tennis, volleyball, and basketball at the park’s recreation center! McCormick’s Creek State Park is a perfect weekend adventure you will not want to miss😊
Entrance Fee: $7 In State Daily Entrance, $9 Out of State Daily Entrance
Lodging: There is one campground with both electric and primitive options, as well as a youth tent area and family cabins. All reservations can be made here- McCormick’s Creek Camping. This park also has one hotel on site- Canyon Inn. Reservations for Canyon Inn can be found here- Canyon Inn Reservations.
Dining: Canyon Inn has one restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily (*closed on Mondays). Menus and specific meal hours can be found here- Menu/Hours. There are several picnic areas throughout the entire park and concessions near the pool area during swim season (Memorial Day through Labor Day).
Must Know Before You Go:
1. Sturdy waterproof shoes are recommended for most hikes at this park. Also, in true Indiana Park fashion, many trails take you through poorly labeled, but extremely lovely creek beds so I would have both a map and compass with you before you set out.
2. A headlamp or flashlight is recommended for Trail 5.
3. A change of clothes and beach towel would be helpful if you plan on climbing to the waterfall on Trail 3.
4. In the summer months, SO many bugs will be joining you on your adventure, so you may want something to repel them. And I would definitely check for ticks post hike.
Cell Service: We had no cell coverage on the trails or even near the Nature Center. Very limited coverage near Canyon Inn.
2 Day Itinerary
Nature Center- This is a great place to start your McCormick’s Creek adventure. I was quite impressed with the size of this Nature Center and the number of exhibits. They have both historical and wildlife exhibits as well as our kiddos favorite- a wildlife observation room. This is also a great time to use the restrooms before heading out to the trails!
Trail 5- This 2-mile loop trail starts and ends at the Wolf Cave parking lot. This trail is moderate in difficulty and about halfway in, if you don’t mind some tight spaces will have you climbing all the way through an 82 ft long cave. A headlamp or flashlight will be needed to navigate your way through the cramped spaces and to really explore the cave details. If tight spaces are not your thing, the trail will take you around the cave to the other side where you can meet the rest of your crew to continue Trail 5. And much to my children’s disappointment, wolves no longer inhabit Indiana so it’s unlikely you’ll meet one in the cave, despite it’s name😊
Trail 7- For this 1.8-mile loop trail, you can keep your vehicle right where it’s at and just cross the road to pick up Trail 7. Trail 7 is moderate in difficulty and will take you through beautiful forest to some stunning views of the White River. There are some elevation changes- you will be walking down to the river, so you will have to walk back up to your car and there is some rocky terrain, but our kiddos had no trouble completing this trail. If you packed lunches, the White River is a great place to sit and enjoy the wonderful views! You are also able to fish in this area with a proper state fishing license!
Trail 3- I saved the best trail for last today! This trail is just under 1 mile but with all the switchbacks over the creek it may end up being a little longer. Also, expect it to take longer to complete because much of the trail is rocky, creek bed. This trail is the most rugged but also the most rewarding! The best lot to park in for this trail, is the small one right by the falls. If that lot is full, you can park at the lot across from Canyon Inn- but if you climb the falls, you and your crew will have a longer walk back to dry clothes. If you park in the small lot by the falls, head down the stairs and to the right for a beautiful overlook of the falls, but do not go down into the falls until after your hike. After completing the loop, through beautiful creek bed and forest, you will end up back at the falls. After your hike, take the narrow stone stairs down to the creek. This area is full of slippery rocks, but hard to resist getting right under the stunning waterfall. In the summer months, it is also nice to cool off as you wade through the water, after hiking in the humid Indiana heat.
Trail 9- For this trail, park at the Deer Run lot. This 1.2-mile, easy, loop trail is perfect for all ages. It takes you through beautiful forest, numerous sinkholes and lets you explore the historic Peden Farm site. Depending on the direction you take this loop, the farm site will be either at the very beginning or end of your hike. It is actually just a few steps off the main trail but is well labeled and easy to spot.
Trail 4- This 1.5-mile loop is moderate in difficulty unless you climb the fire tower…. then it would be considered strenuous. Climbing the fire tower (March-November) is definitely not required but recommended for the stunning views😊 Parking for this trail is right at Canyon Inn and the trail will begin near the Camp Store. It is not a perfect loop, so the end of this trail will actually drop you off on the main road which you will have to cross to get back to the parking lot. The lot will be just a few steps northeast of where the trail ends.
*There are other trails worth checking out at McCormick’s Creek, but I feel like you cannot leave this area without driving the 16 miles to Indiana’s largest (at 86ft!) and arguably most impressive waterfall. It’s a great place to take a lunch, walk the one trail available and see Upper falls, Lower falls and the Cataract Falls Covered Bridge. It’s a 20 min drive but so worth it! The entrance fee is $7.
Cataract Falls- As soon as you pull into the park you will see the Covered Bridge and the Upper Falls Overlook. After exploring the area, you have two options, you can either hike the 1 mile to Lower Falls or drive down to the other parking lot and explore Lower Falls from there. We loved the hike but depending on your crew, I would consider it moderate in difficulty with a few inclines, a few drops offs and some mud or sand to walk through depending on the time of year. It is 2 miles round trip since hiking is the only way to return to your car. We loved this trail and the waterfalls, year-round are spectacular!
You should have time at the end of either of these days to check out the swimming pool or horseback riding at the Saddle Barn😊
Feel free to reach out with any questions!
Hope you have a wonderful adventure!