Mounds State Park is one of Indiana’s smallest state parks at 290 acres, just about an hour northeast of Indianapolis, Indiana. Don’t let its small size fool you, because this park packs a lot of history and beauty into every one of those 290 acres. The most unique aspect of this park is it offers you a chance to walk through 10 mounds and earthworks built and used by the Adena and Hopewell people over 2, 000 years ago. The largest mound, “The Great Mound” , measures at an impressive quarter-mile in circumference and gives you a remarkable glimpse into these ancient cultures. Mounds State Park also offers over six miles of hiking trails through thick, hilly forest and along the flowing White River where there’s even remnants of an old amusement park from the 1800s. There is also a swimming pool on site and fishing available along the river’s lovely shores. This park will truly give you a delightful adventure!
Entrance Fee: $7 In State Daily Entrance, $9 Out of State Daily Entrance
Lodging: One campground is available inside park boundaries, with reservations available here- Mounds Camping. Other lodging options can be found in Anderson, Indiana, just a few miles outside the park.
Dining: Three picnic areas are available throughout the park. Concessions are available at the pool area, Memorial Day through Labor Day. There are also several dining options in Anderson, Indiana, again, just a few miles outside the park.
Must Know Before you Go: Trails can get quite icy or muddy depending on the season so hiking boots are helpful!
Cell Service: Available throughout the entire park.
One Day Itinerary
Visitor Center- The Visitor Center is just to the left(south) of the main gate off Mounds Road. The visitor center is small, but lovely and relatively new! Its interactive exhibits provide an opportunity to learn about the current plants, animals, and landscape of the park today as well as the history of the Adena and Hopewell cultures that are responsible for the 10 earthworks within the Mounds State Park boundaries. This visitor center is a must stop before heading out for the day. This is also a great place to pick up a tree guide and mound history guide for Trail 1 later in the day.
Trail 5- This 2.5-mile loop trail will take you around the entire perimeter of the park. If you only have time for one trail, this is the one to hike! Most of the highlights of Mounds State Park are either directly on this trail or just a few steps off the trail. This trail will have you winding through beautiful, hilly forest and along the rushing White River and is perfect for all ages! It is moderate in difficulty (for length and a few elevation changes) and the trail is easy to follow. Since you are already parked by the visitor center, I would start on the paved portion of this trail, right in front of the Bronnenberg House. Anytime you get to a split in the trail, stay straight to follow Trail 5. My only other advice for this trail- when you come to the main park road, cross and head over the wooden bridge to stay on 5.
Trail 2/1 Loop- If you complete all of Trail 5, it will drop you right back at the visitor center. From there, you can walk the 0.25 miles to Trail 2, just north of the visitor center or you can move your car to the pavilion parking lot, just north of the visitor center. There are several ways that you can explore this next area of the park. There is no perfect loop, so if you find a more exciting way for your crew, go for it! This is the way we love to see it! This route takes you past all major areas and our favorite parts of Trails 1 and 2. It measures at about 1.5 miles, give or take some, depending on how much off the path exploring you do! Once you are on Trail 2, you will come to an initial split in the trail just a few steps in. When you get to the split head left(south) until you come to Trail 1B. Once you hit Trail 1B, head left again to explore the impressive Great Mound and Earthwork that are in that area. When you are ready to move on, head to the paved path (Trail 5) and make a right. You will use Trail 5 as a connector to Trail 1A. Trail 1A will be on your right and take you past another Earthwork and more common Indiana trees(check your tree guide!). When Trail 1A splits go right(east) back towards the Great Mound. The Fiddle Back Mound will be on your left. Then, just before you get back to the Great Mound on your left(north) is the other side of Trail 1B. You can take 1B the rest of the way through the forest until it swings you back around to the boardwalk of Trail 2. Below is a highlighted map of this particular route since I know this loop involves a lot of twisting and turning!
One more option if time allows:
Trail 4/5 Loop- This trail is about 1 mile and will have you traveling through forest and over a creek several times. The creek has enough water year-round to be a great spot for the kids to play, and skip rocks😊 From the visitor center parking lot, drive down the main park road and park in the lot across from the Circle Mound. From the parking lot, head southeast on Trail 4. At the second split, follow the path onto the boardwalk to connect to Trail 5. When you get to the main park road, do not cross it! Following the path on the side you are already on, will get you back on Trail 4. At the next split, stay left again for the rest of Trail 4. Again, because this is not a perfect loop, I will post a highlighted portion of the map! Once you are back at the parking lot, head across the road to explore the Circle Mound!
Please reach out with any questions!
Hope you have a wonderful adventure!