Turkey Run State Park: 2 Day Adventure

To be honest, the first time we went here, I did not do any researchā€¦. not my best movešŸ˜Š It is in the middle of Indiana, so I was expecting some hiking trails through the woods or along a lovely riverā€¦. something beautiful but not too strenuous. I can not stop laughing as I write that because three days later my legs are still feeling the aftermath of these trails and we do quite a bit of hiking on a weekly basis. These trails will take you up, down and through the most stunning canyons but it requires walking through rushing water , climbing up and down ladders hooked to the canyon walls and scrambling over large boulders. We absolutely LOVE this park and I can not tell you enough how much fun it is! We must have said, ā€œThis is unbelievableā€ ten times an hour the first time we visited. We usually make this a very full day trip, but you could easily make it a whole weekend adventure. There is plenty to do- hiking trails, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, tennis courts, basketball courts, a swimming pool, fishing, and a nature center just to name a few! I am going to run through two different itineraries depending on how much time/days you have to spend here.

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

Lodging: Lodging options onsite include an Inn, cabins, one campground and one youth tent camp. Inn and cabin reservations can be made here- Stay at Turkey Run. Reservations for camping can be made six months in advance at Turkey Run Camping. Rockville, IN (9 miles from the park) and Crawfordsville, IN (20 miles from the park) are your best options for hotels off park property.

Dining: There is one restaurant onsite located in the Inn that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hours and menus can be found here- Narrows Restaurant. Several shelters and picnic areas are available throughout the park as well.

Must Know Before You Go:

1. Hiking boots are strongly recommended. Most of the terrain is rocky and wet.

2. It is easily to take a wrong turn when a large portion of the trail is climbing over large rocks. Make sure you grab a park map before heading out.

3. Swimming in Sugar Creek is prohibited.

4. If you are bringing anyone under the age of 4, the best way to get the most out of this park is to wear them while hiking. There are still plenty of miles in the hikes where they can walk and explore on their own two feet but in some of the more difficult areas (and every hike has a few) it was much easier and safer to have the kiddos in a carrier.

5. My kids have done ALL the trails, but ALL the trails are labeled moderate to very rugged so please do not take those warnings lightly. Only do what you and your crew are able to safely complete.

Cell Service: No issues with service.

One Day Itinerary

Nature Center– Make that your first stop. It had great information about the area for both adults and children. Make sure you have a map before heading to the hiking trails. The map is extremely helpful since a lot of trails will not look like traditional dirt trails, for example many trails will have you climbing over boulders or walking through a running waterfall. The trails are marked with brown posts and yellow numbers and arrows. This is also a great place to use the restroom because once you are on the north side of the suspension bridge there are no restrooms.

Follow signs and map to the suspension bridge and cross to the other side of Sugar Creek.

Trail 3– This 1.7-mile trail is marked very rugged. At the end of the suspension bridge turn left and then go immediately right into the gorge, away from the creek. This area was so fun and an easy walk. The kids loved strolling through the water and climbing on the large rocks. This is such a beautiful area. A little way in it will look like the trail has come to a dead end at a waterfall, instead the ā€œtrailā€ continues up the waterfall, through a narrower gorge where you continue to walk on the rocks through running water. Good hiking shoes are so important here. Your feet will most definitely get wet on this part of the trail. You will have to walk through water several times on this trail loop. Near the end of this loop you will have to climb down three sets of ladders into another gorge. Our kids did complete this. My husband went down in tandem with our 4-year-old and then he waited at the bottom while I sent our 6- and 8-year-old down. The ladders were very secure, but it could still be difficult and risky for children so if you want to skip this part, when you get to the ladder area there is a side path around the first one and then continue to Trail 5 which will be a little longer but still loop around to the same place and you will have boardwalk stairs instead of the ladders. Both trail 3 and 5 will loop you back to the suspension bridge, just make sure you keep on Trail 5 when you come to the Trail 5 and Trail 9 split.

Head back over the suspension bridge for a nice break and lunch at one of the many picnic areas.

Trail 2– This 2-mile loop is marked rugged. I would agree that it is not as difficult as Trail 3 but the very rocky terrain will have you climbing over and through large rocks/boulders. Our favorite part of this trail was Gypsy Gulch, but I kept my kiddos close because you are high up while walking through a place where it is easy to stumble.

Trail 1/Trail 4– To end the day I would take the suspension bridge and immediately turn right at the end to Trail 4. I would follow Trail 4 along Sugar Creek to the Narrows Covered Bridge. I would take that across the river to Trail 1 and follow that back along the river to the parking lot. These trails are both considered moderate to rugged.

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2 Day Itinerary

Day 1:

Trail 3/5/9 Loop– This 4-mile loop is moderate to very rugged. At the end of the suspension bridge turn left and then go immediately right into the gorge, away from the creek. This area was so fun and an easy walk. The kids loved strolling through the water and climbing on the rocks. This is such a beautiful area. A little way in it will look like the trail has come to a dead end at a waterfall, instead the ā€œtrailā€ continues up the waterfall, through a narrower gorge where you continue to walk on the rocks through running water. Good hiking shoes are so important here. Your feet will most definitely get wet on this part of the trail. You will have to walk through water several times on this trail loop. When you get to the first ladder either climb down it or walk around the small path on the side to the boardwalk. Do not go down the other two ladders. Instead, continue on the boardwalk to Trail 5. There will be a split for Trail 5 and Trail 9. Continue straight to follow Trail 9. You will first go through Boulder Canyon, make your way through Falls Canyon, and then end up back along the north side of Sugar Creek to eventually make your way back to the suspension bridge. Boulder Canyon does involve climbing down a lot of large rocks (third picture down) but you are rewarded with a beautiful waterfall at the bottom and my three kiddos had no trouble doing it themselves, we just took it nice and slow.

Trail 1– This 2-mile moderate to rugged trail can be picked up right at the Inn/cabin area. The first half runs through the forest and the second half runs along the south side of Sugar Creek.

Day 2:

Trail 2– This 2-mile loop is marked rugged. I would agree that it is not as difficult as Trail 3 but the very rocky terrain will have you climbing over and through large rocks/boulders. Our favorite part of this trail was Gypsy Gulch, but I kept my kiddos close because you are high up while walking through a place where it is easy to stumble.

Trail 4– I would start this 2-mile loop at the same place you started Trail 3 only because I think it is easier to walk up the waterfall in Rocky Hollow rather than down. There will be a split just after Rocky Hollow, veer right to take Trail 4 to the Punch Bowl. After the Punch Bowl, you will continue through the forest and eventually end up walking along the north side of Sugar Creek back to the suspension bridge.

At the beginning or end of both days you would have time for horseback riding, fishing, or canoeing whichever you would like to check out first! There is also Trails 6, 7, 10 and 11 if you want to do more hiking!

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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