Indianapolis, IN: Whitewater Red Springs

Peek into a wildflower-filled ravine, a ruddy-colored seep spring, and the Hornbeam Nature Preserve on this rugged 1.1-mile loop in Indiana's third largest state park.
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Peek into a wildflower-filled ravine, a ruddy-colored seep spring, and the Hornbeam Nature Preserve on this rugged 1.1-mile loop in Indiana's third largest state park.

Established in 1949 as a living tribute to local veterans, Whitewater Memorial State Park has over 9 miles of hiking trails and a recreational lake that make it an excellent day trip destination from Indianapolis. This easy counterclockwise loop hits two of the park's most interesting features: a large, ruddy-colored seep spring and the Hornbeam Nature Preserve.
From the nature preserve parking area, the trail dips into a wooded ravine heading south toward Silver Creek. Though this hike is short, the trail is rugged en route to Red Springs just before mile 0.5. An observation platform alongside the bubbling spring offers a peek at the swirling waters and an ideal mid-hike rest point. The trail climbs the hillside again before crossing the park road and turning west through the heavily forested south side of the Hornbeam Nature Preserve, notable for the high concentration of hardwoods, its rough-barked cousin the American hophornbeam, and fantastic spring wildflowers. The last half of the trail climbs gently back toward the trailhead and preserve parking area.
-Mapped by Swati Gunale

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 1.8

Waypoints

WRS001

Location: 39.6068702, -84.9775743

The Red Springs Loop Trailhead is on the southeast corner of the nature preserve parking area.

WRS002

Location: 39.603994, -84.974345

The trail steepens as it dips into the wooded ravine toward the spring.

WRS003

Location: 39.6028942, -84.974227

This Silver Creek tributary makes the ravine bottom one of the park's best wildflower viewing areas.

WRS004

Location: 39.6023528, -84.97302

Seep Springs Observation deck lets you get up close to the swirling spring. Reddish water (tinted due to high mineral and iron content in the soil) gushes from the hillside. Expect to spend a few minutes mesmerized by the scene.

WRS005

Location: 39.602671, -84.9713409

At about the half-way point, the Red Springs Loop crosses the park road. Ahead, the path travels west, skirting the lakeshore.

WRS006

Location: 39.6066636, -84.9747419

Passing through the the Hornbeam Nature Preserve, you may notice an unusual number of hornbeam and hophornbeam trees. Look for smooth bluish-gray bark reminiscent of beech.

Red Springs

Location: 39.602299, -84.9729395

Trailhead

Location: 39.6068702, -84.9774778

This sign marks the Red Springs Trail from the trailhead.

Observation Platform

Location: 39.6023362, -84.9729985

Signage at the Observation Platform.

Red Springs

Location: 39.6023156, -84.9729717

Mineral- and iron-rich soil tint the waters of Red Springs.