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Trail 3, 5, and 9 Loop

Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Turkey Run State Park, protecting some of Indiana’s most scenic landscapes, preserves a collection of deep canyons, also called runs, nestled in the shadows of massive Mansfield sandstone cliffs and towering Hemlock groves—ladders, stream crossings, suspension bridges, ravine streambed trekking, and misty waterfalls await the hikers who explore some of the state’s most ruggedly beautiful hiking trails.

Hikers can chose to combine any or all of the eleven trails that the park has to offer—we opted to explore Trails 3, 5 and 9.

Our adventure begins with Trail 3 (1.7 miles)—to reach the trailhead, follow the path leading down to Sugar Creek on the north side of the Nature Center. A suspension bridge spans the waters of Sugar Creek, landing the hiker on its north bank where you will find access to the trails.

After crossing the footbridge, turn left and follow the trail markers for Trail 3—large sandstone boulders, elevated boardwalks, and platforms overlooking Sugar Creek prime the hiker for highlights yet to come. The trail soon descends the cliff via a series of stone steps to the formation known as the Ice Box—an icy cool alcove complete with a trickling waterfall and swooping swallows.

Continue west along Sugar Creek, stopping to admire the massive old-growth beech and walnut trees—a springtime hike will most likely have you enjoying the blooms of wild phlox, trillium, bluebells, and columbine. You will soon come to the intersection with Trail 5, at 0.6 mile marker, continue hiking west along Trail 5 until you reach the intersection with Trail 9—follow Trail 9 to Falls Canyon, the first of two ravines.

Adults and kids alike will enjoy climbing through the streambed to the top of Falls Canyon—a lush green ravine covered with moss and flowing ferns. At the top of the canyon, exit the streambed and climb the wooden staircase leading to Boulder Canyon—the second ravine, complete with a seasonal waterfall and massive boulders and tree roots to climb over.

Stone steps lead up and out of Boulder Canyon to a ridgeline amid a beautiful deciduous forest—soon you reach another intersection with Trail 5. Just past this intersection you will encounter the section known as “140 Steps”—descend the steps into Bear Hollow and the junction with Trail 3.

Turn right onto Trail 3 to access the Ladders that descend further into Bear Hollow—The Ladders, a series of 3 wooden ladders, are a definite highlight of the hike! Descending the final ladder puts you in another streambed deep within a sandstone ravine—hike along the stream, rock hopping as you go, until you find your way back to the boardwalk section of Trail 3 at the beginning of your hike. To complete the Loop, retrace your steps to the Suspension Bridge and the Nature Center parking lot.


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