Shades State Park in Indiana
A Visit to Shades State Park
Shades State Park lies in west central Indiana along Sugar Creek, outside of Crawfordsville, Indiana. It includes 2,200 acres of land that is believed to have once been inhabited by the Piankeshaw Indians, a Miami Tribe, and was later home to a mineral springs resort.
Today the park offers camping and hiking, about 10 miles of it total, for those who simply love the ravines and wooded area it contains. Learn a bit more about Shades and take a look at the area through the pictures and video on this page.
This page is Dedicated to My Father, Thelbert, Who Passed Along His Love of Nature to All of His Children
Many of the trails at Shades State Park, like others in the area, make use of ravine streambeds. It makes for some interesting hiking among rocky cliffs, ferns, moss, and trees towering above, but can also be a bit rugged at times. These trails include rocky footing, ladders in some cases, and significant ascents and descents for those who aren't accustomed to hiking very much. During periods of high water such trails can't be used at all.
Trails 8, 7, 4, and 5 all run down to Sugar Creek and loop back toward higher ground through the various ravines and small canyons. These trails are loop trails which are around three quarters of a mile long. (Trail 8 actually connects to trail 7 to make the return trip.) Many of the pictures on this page are taken in the Kickapoo and Frisz ravines, along trails 7 and 4.
When along the banks of Sugar Creek, you'll often see kayaks and canoes which can be rented in the surrounding area. In fact, there is a public canoe launch just northeast of the park, along highway 234 near an old covered bridge.
The easiest hiking at Shades State Park is along trial 9 (.5 miles) and 10 (1.5 miles) which don't use the stream beds at all. Trail 10 will take you to the east boundary of the park where the Pine Hills Nature Preserve is located. The preserve is not part of the park but offers more moderate hiking. Within the preserve, there are a few interesting sights including Indian Creek with it's rock bed and the honeycombed cliffs surrounding it. I've included a handful of photos from the nature preserve below which show the creek bed as well as a view from Turkey Backbone above the creek. Most of the hiking is moderate although there are a number of steps to climb.
Still within the park however, Trail 6 is another short (.5 mile) and easy hike. For those wanting a little more distance, there is a 2.5 mile back pack trail which is still a fairly easy walk. Trail 1 (.75 miles) can also be a moderate hike which gives you a couple of opportunities to look out across Sugar Creek; a photo from Prospect point is included below. However, if hikers choose to take the Trail 1 spur down to Silver Cascade Falls, the ascent and descent is quite steep, although stairs are provided. Cascade Falls doesn't carry a large volume of water most of the year but is still a nice view. I've included a photo below.
Trail 2 is 1.25 miles long and is one the most rugged trails in the park. It will take you through Pearl Ravine and give you a view of Maidenhair Falls. The hikes through the ravines are easiest in the mid to late summer and autumn when there is generally less moisture. However, fallen leaves can add to the "slipperiness" although mud is less of a problem. During the warmer months, these hikes can also be a good choice however, due to the lower temperatures in the area.
There is no lodging (inn or cabins) or restaurant at Shades State Park. There are however campgrounds and picnic areas. For a map of the trails and other areas of the park see this page. On most days, Shades is a lightly traveled park and encountering a crowd is most likely to happen in the autumn.