Shades State Park, Indiana

Shades State Park Entry Sign

Native tribes killing each other. An abused wife murdering her husband with an axe. Other murders? These are all plausible but unfounded stories behind the name of Shades State Park, originally called Shades of Death.

That certainly piqued my interest!

Shades State Park waterfall

Just over an hour from Indianapolis and 3 hours from downtown Chicago, this is a must-hike state park, especially if combined with nearby Turkey Run State Park. Much like that park, the trails here run up and down ravines, with the tougher spots having the aid of stairs or ladders to go up and/or down. With rugged footing and some elevation change, this hike will get your heart going.

Shades State Park ladder and bridge

I love finding such rugged hiking here in the Midwest. There’s also something really special about climbing ladders and sloshing through the creeks that make up the trail bed. There are some flat, smooth trails throughout the park for those with disabilities.

Shades State Park Inspiration Point

Activities at the park include fishing, picnicking, canoeing, and seasonal interpretive naturalist services.

For campers, there are primitive drive-up sites, a backpacking campground, as well as a canoe-in campground.

Shades State Park slide show:

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We want to return to hike more of the trails, perhaps check out the backpacking camp, and visit Pine Hills Nature Preserve, which gives you the opportunity to cross the Devil’s Backbone, a trail that is, at one point, only 6 feet wide and 100 feet high. Wow.

This 470-acre tract is the also the first dedicated nature preserve in Indiana, given to the State of Indiana by The Nature Conservancy in 1961. Dedication followed in 1969.

Shades State Park 6 Ravines Challenge

One thing I’ll be sure to return for is the Shades State Park 6 Ravine Challenge (#6RC) – complete the described loop, take photos of identified locations along the way, and you get to purchase the 6 Ravine Challenge sticker! After doing the 3 Dune Challenge at the Indiana Dunes National State Park, this is a must-do.

How to get there:


5 thoughts on “Shades State Park, Indiana

    1. So many reasons tip to bottom. If you visit Shades make sure to hit Turkey Run as well, very near each other.

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