Summit Lake State Park is located about an hour east of Indianapolis, IN near the city of New Castle. At about 2700 acres, this park includes a gorgeous 800-acre lake that provides you with stunning water views from every hiking trail in the park. There is also, two kayak trails, a beach, and 3 boat ramps to get you into the beautiful, blue water the second you pull up. And, if you enjoy birdwatching, this is your park- Summit Lake is home to over a 100 different species of birds! Below is a two-day itinerary that will take you through most of the park😊
Entrance Fee: $7 In State Daily Entrance, $9 Out of State Daily Entrance, Private boat launch permit at the gate- $25 for motorized, $5 for non-motorized.
Lodging: There is one campground onsite. Reservations can be made here- Summit Lake Campground. If you would prefer not to camp, but would like to stay close to the park, the closest lodging options would be Muncie, IN, 15 miles from the park.
Dining: I would plan on bringing in your own food. There are many shelters and picnic tables (even on the trails) with lovely views of the lake. The park does offer concessions at the beach, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
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.
2. Bring sunscreen. Many of the trails have very little shade.
3. The park has 3 boat ramps. 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: We had service throughout the park, even on the trails.
Two Day Itinerary
Trail 1/5 Loop- There is a small parking lot for this trail, but it is also just a short walk from the end of the boat launch lot, if the trail lot is full. This trail is a combination of two loops that share a middle border. My preferred way to hike this loop is staying right on Trail 5 at the first split to head through the forest and then you will eventually run into Trail 1. Continue straight when you hit Trail 1 (do not go left) to continue to some gorgeous lake and prairie views. The trail will eventually swing back around to where you started. This route is the large loop, on the park map, and is approximately 2.5 miles and perfect for all ages.
Trail 3- Parking for this trail is right at the beach. This trail is completely ADA accessible, so it is perfect for all ages and even a stroller. This trail is 1 mile in length and will start in a wooded area, until it winds around to border the lake. With both beautiful forest and water views, this trail is lovely😊
Beach- After 3 miles of hiking, we always head down to the beach. Even when it is not warm, my kiddos love the sand so this is always a must stop. There is a bathhouse and concessions available at the beach, Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Trail 2- This trail, like many others at this park, is a perfect blend of beautiful forest and lovely lake views. It is 1.25 miles long and a mostly flat, easy walk. To get to this trail, just follow the signs to the campground, the trailhead is just a little way past the camp office on the west(left) side of the road.
Rent Kayaks or Canoes- This 800-acre lake is gorgeous and if you made the trip, you need to get out on the water. There are two kayak trails, one on each end of the lake and clearly labeled on the park map. The wind on the water can be harsh, so just keep that in mind! If you plan on renting a kayak, rentals can be found in the camp store near Harvey’s Shelter. It also happens to be where you can pick up Kayak Trail 2.
Trail 4- This trail is an easy 0.75-mile loop trail. It starts in the delightful prairie near Harvey’s Shelter and continues down to some peaceful lake views before heading back up, away from the lake.
Trail 6- For this trail, pull into the Sunset Shelter drive. You will pass the trailhead on your right, on the drive in. Park in the first small lot and head out. This trail is short but beautiful and perfect for all ages. It is 0.5 miles, which includes traveling down both splits in the trail. It’s the perfect way to end your trip to Summit Lake!
Hope you have a wonderful adventure!