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Newfields/IMA Gardens | © Serge Melki / Flickr
Newfields/IMA Gardens | © Serge Melki / Flickr
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A Hiker’s Guide to Indianapolis, IN

Picture of Courtney Johnston
Updated: 1 March 2018
Indianapolis may have a relatively flat landscape, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t full of incredible hiking spots. The Circle City proves that you don’t have to have tall mountains or vast canyons to enjoy trekking through the great outdoors. For the best trails and natural gems, check out this ultimate hiker’s guide to Indianapolis.

City Parks

From state parks to municipal parks, Indianapolis is teeming with rural retreats that offer amazing hiking opportunities. Fort Harrison State Park is a 17,000-acre park featuring six different hiking trails, ranging from easy to difficult. There are even pet- and bike-friendly trails located within this park. Pick up a park map from the visitor’s center or online website.

White River State Park is the only other state park in Indianapolis, and while it’s a city park, it’s still well worth exploring. Stroll past incredible sculptures and art exhibits, all while taking in the gorgeous city skyline.

While not a state park, Eagle Creek Park is the largest park in Indy, and one of the largest municipal parks in the country. Grab a trail map when entering the park to uncover all of the unique trails within this rural paradise. Enjoy six different trails that wrap around ponds, weave through forests, and cut through some of the park’s most stunning attractions. There’s even a fitness trail with exercise challenges and equipment along the way.

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Eagle Creek Park | Serge Melki/Flickr

Urban Trails

Indianapolis proves that urban settings can offer incredible outdoor experiences, even without miles of uninterrupted nature. Instead, Indy embraces the natural beauty within its city and connects important districts and neighborhoods with official trails that are perfect for hiking or biking.

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail connects each of Indy’s cultural districts, while also offering a one-of-a-kind tour of the Circle City. Start out in the Fountain Square district and make your way through to the Wholesale District, Market East District, Mass Ave, Indiana Avenue, and White River State Park and Canal for a total trek of eight miles (12.8 kilometers).

The Monon Trail is a 10.4-mile (16.7-kilometer) Indianapolis Greenway that starts on 10th Street and runs all the way up to 96th Street (where the trail continues in Carmel, Indiana). This converted rail-trail is one of the busiest greenways in the country and offers a great mix of urban and rural scenery along the way. The Monon Trail also connects to several other greenways and trails systems throughout local parks in Indy.

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Indianapolis Cultural Trail | Jun Wang/Flickr

Indianapolis Gardens

Parks and designated trails aren’t the only spaces in Indy where hikers can enjoy a brisk walk or run. Indianapolis is home to many public gardens and green spaces that offer scenic trails and walking adventures.

The gardens at Newfields (formerly the Indiana Museum of Art) offer some of the most stunning locations for hiking in Indianapolis. Explore the whimsical and eclectic gardens at the Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park for a burst of beauty and incredible stretch across 100 acres of nature and public art.

The Garfield Park Conservatory and Sunken Gardens also offers an incredible hiking experience through the park’s charming trails or across the enchanting gardens. Hikers can also connect to the Cultural Trail through Garfield Park.

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Newfields/IMA Gardens | Serge Melki/Flickr

Indy may not be home to high elevations and impressive hills and mountains, but the Circle City has found ways to making hiking exciting and accessible for all skill levels.