Favorite places for nature very near Indianapolis

I read a blog post recently by a fellow resident of Indianapolis who’s having a hard time lately and found themselves lamenting the lack of places for “Forest bathing” in Indianapolis (and cities like it).

It seemed familiar to me - as one of the ways I reset myself often is to go for a walk in the woods. Sometimes I go far afield - down to Brown County, or many a Indiana state park.

But more often, I stick around home.

So to help my internet friend out (should they ever see this), and to put a positive spin on things, here are places in and around Indianapolis that I’ve been able to find a quiet spot, sit a spell and look at trees.

In rough order of recommendation:

  1. Fort Harrison State Park: A former military installation and World War II prisoner of war camp, this state park over in the Lawrence corner of Marion County features a handful of trails. For the best shot at solitude, take the Fall Creek Trail and alight on a bench along the steps up the bluffs next to Fall Creek, or pick a bench on the Camp Creek Trail. There are longer trails at the park, but these two are absent mountain bikers. There is an entrance fee, like all Indiana State Parks (a grumble for another day), but if you live in Indy, the $50 annual pass pays for itself in no time. Oh, and if you look around a bit, you can probably find back entrances to the park to skip the fee entirely - the best one is near the intersection of Fall Creek and Boy Scout Road.
  2. Holliday Park: There’s a surprisingly gnarled set of short trails in this park alongside the White River west of Broad Ripple. Difficult to get a long hike in, but there are spots near the river that are tricky to get in or out of where you can grab a few minutes of peace (before grinding your way back uphill).
  3. Ritchie Woods Nature Preserve: Our first foray out of Marion County - but barely. Just north of 96th Street and off Hauge Road, this small Fishers park has a small network of trails. Wandering off to the trails rightward into the woods will get you off the beaten path pretty quickly.
  4. Skiles Test Nature Park: Another patch of woods. This one has a primary path running through it (which connects to the Fall Creek Greenway … and then to that back entrance to Fort Ben I mentioned), and also a slew of spurs off and into the woods proper.

There are more than those four. But those are my four go-tos when I need to get out into nature for a bit.

Always interested in learning new places, too!

Chris Vannoy @v