Spring Mill State Park is located in Mitchell, Indiana, just under two hours south of Indianapolis. At over 1300 acres, this park truly offers a lot of everything- a museum dedicated to a Hoosier astronaut, that houses an actual space capsule; hiking trails through lush, green forests; a serene lake that provides opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and canoeing; and an entire restored village centered around a grist mill from the 1800s. There is even a chance to mountain bike or enjoy cave exploration! This park has enough to keep you exploring for days! Below is a 2 day itinerary to help make this adventure a little easier!
Entrance Fee: $7 In State Daily Entrance, $9 Out of State Daily Entrance
Lodging: Spring Mill State Park has one inn and one campground. Reservations for the Spring Mill Inn can be made through Nov 13th, 2022 at this link- Spring Mill Inn. After Nov 13, 2022, they will close for the remainder of 2022 and all of 2023 for extensive renovations. Reservations for the campground, which include electric, primitive and youth tent sites, can be made here- Spring Mill Campground. The city of Mitchell, IN has additional lodging options as well.
Dining: The Inn has one restaurant that serves complete breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. Hours and menus can be found here- Millstone Dining Room. Additional dining options can be found in the city of Mitchell, IN, just minutes from the park.
Must Know Before You Go:
1. Ticks are prevalent April through October. Bring repellent, walk in the center of the trails if possible, and check for ticks post visit. Click here to learn more about Tick Safety. Most recently (2022), ticks were particularly prevalent on Trail 5.
2. A guide-led Twin Caves boat tour is open daily, Memorial Day through July. After July, tours continue to run on the weekends, through October. Reservations must be made same-day and in person, at the Twin Caves parking lot. If you plan on visiting, I would make this your first stop of the day to secure a spot!
3. The park has 1 boat ramp next to the Lakeview Activity Center on Spring Mill Lake. You may bring your own boat or rent the park’s rowboats, paddle boats, kayaks, and canoes by the hour. Privately owned boats do require a launch permit.
4. Fishing is also allowed within the park but does require a state license.
Cell Service: Sporadic on the trails, no service in Pioneer Village.
Two Day Itinerary
Grissom Memorial– Parking for the Grissom Memorial is just to the right of the main gate. My oldest loves all things space, so this was a must stop. Virgil Grissom was America’s second man in space and a native of the city of Mitchell, IN. The memorial includes his space suit and the impressive Gemini III space capsule, as well as several interactive displays and a short film.
Trail 6- This 0.25 mile trail starts right at the Grissom Memorial parking lot. It is completely paved so both wheelchair and stroller accessible. The trail winds through beautiful forest to a lovely overlook before looping back around to the parking lot. Be careful on the overlook deck in the spring, it can be very slippery when the catkins fall from the oak trees.
Trail 3- There are several places you can jump on to Trail 3, but I would recommend starting the 2.5 mile loop in the Twin Caves parking lot. This is also where you will get your boat tour tickets and where the tours begin. Even if you do not take a tour, I would still recommend heading down the large set of stairs to check out the caves! After checking out the caves, set out onto Trail 3. This trail makes a complete loop, but the easiest way to walk it, is clockwise. Start on the trail closest to the Twin Caves stairs, heading towards Bronson Cave.
Twin Caves Boat Tour- The Twin Caves lot has a small shack where you can purchase your tickets. At your reserved time you will head down the large set of stairs to a small dock where the tour will begin. The tours are guide-led and take you 500 feet into the cave before turning around. Tours are from 9-5, when open. Each tour lasts approximately 20 min and cost $3/person. *Children 3 and under are not allowed on cave tours at this time.
Trail 1- This 0.4 mile loop trail starts at the Spring Mill Inn. It will take you to wonderful views of the lake and you can look at the historic inn, even if you do not plan on staying there😊
Trail 5- Start this 1.5 mile loop trail at the Lakeview Activity Center. There is a large lot for parking. This is also where you would rent kayaks and canoes! I would check out the activity center before heading out on your hike. The activity center has several exhibits both upstairs and down. If you are coming from the parking lot, you will walk right into the upstairs. After exploring that area, head downstairs to explore the rest of the nature displays. If you walk out the back of the activity center, and down to the lake, you can jump right onto Trail 5. Trail 5 takes you through lush forest, while bordering the gorgeous, peaceful lake.
Trail 4/Pioneer Village- There are several ways to jump on Trail 4, but for this itinerary, I would park in the lot right across from Pioneer Village. Once parked, take the closest bridge across Mill Creek, and start the trail clockwise, walking away from Pioneer Village. Stay on Trail 4 as you follow the south side of the creek to Donaldson Cave (just past the stairs). Once you have explored the cave area, back track to the long set of stairs and start the climb. At the top stay right to cross the parking lot and continue Trail 4. There are bathrooms off this lot if your crew needs them before moving on. Next, you will pass the backside of Hamer Pioneer Cemetery. Eventually, you will hit Mill Creek again, and see the actual Mill to your right. Take the quick detour left, following the creek to several stunning waterfalls up the stairs before heading back into Pioneer Village. Pioneer Village is probably the coolest part of this park as you wander through a community built in the early 1800s. How long it will take you, depends on how much you would like to explore. There are 20 structures throughout the area, and all are open to the public. Just to the northeast of the village is the parking lot you began the trail from.
Trail 7- There are several ways to access Trail 7, but I would recommend parking at the Tulip Popular Shelter to make it a 1.75 mile loop trail. The shelter is just a short drive from Trail 4’s parking lot. This easy trail winds through the beautiful forest (this trail is at its best in the fall😊) and is great for all ages. If you decide to hop on this trail from Pioneer Village it will be closer to 2.5 miles roundtrip.
Hope you have a wonderful adventure!
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