Indianapolis, IN: Whitewater Lakeshore

Catch a bird's-eye view of eastern Indiana's Whitewater Lake on this easy 2.3-mile out-and-back skirting a nature preserve and the a remote wooded shoreline.

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Whitewater Memorial State Park is Indiana’s third largest and together with the 200-acre Whitewater Lake, the park is home to the Hornbeam Nature Preserve. This 2.5-mile hike follows Whitewater’s Lakeshore trail as it tours the lake’s lightly traveled western shore toward a wooden observation deck.

This mapped route begins at the signed trailhead on the north side of the Nature Preserve parking area and follows the eastern branch of a short loop trail. Within 0.25-mile, the trail branches east, descending 100 feet toward the water’s edge and hugging the lake’s western shore beneath a wooded canopy. After descending a bluff about 1 mile from the trailhead, climb up the observation platform to take in sweeping views to the east of the lake. Listen and watch for migrating birds before turning back and re-tracing this route to the parking area.

-Mapped by Swati Gunale


Trail Facts

  • Distance: 4.0



Location: 39.607183, -84.977438

The signed Lakeshore Trailhead is on the northeast corner of the Nature Preserve Parking Area.


Location: 39.607343, -84.97652

Stay right at this Y-junction that marks the beginning of a 0.5-mile Nature Preserve Loop. Either direction will lead to the longer Lakeshore Trail that begins on the loop’s far end.


Location: 39.609489, -84.97573

Turn right at the 3-way junction to descend to the water along the Lakeshore Trail.


Location: 39.608345, -84.973809

After a steep descent, this Whitewater Lake lookout is a good spot to rest or eat a picnic lunch.


Location: 39.6122676, -84.9715662

As the trail continues north, it begins dipping onto ravines and rolling along the forest floor away from the shore.


Location: 39.6171274, -84.9685434

A long flight of wooden steps lead to an observation deck above Whitewater Lake.


Location: 39.6175365, -84.968318

Watch for birds and lake-cruising boats from this observation deck on a hillside above the lake.


Location: 39.6070769, -84.9770379

This sign near the trailhead parking lot reminds visitors to stop and appreciate the park’s delicate natural balance. © Swati Gunale

Lakeshore Trail

Location: 39.6094243, -84.9753213

Follow signs for the Lakeshore Trail © Swati Gunale


Location: 39.6086969, -84.9740767

Though Whitewater Lake is a popular waster-sports and fishing destination, there are some pristine spots along its western shore. © Swati Gunale


Location: 39.6170944, -84.9685407

This imposing set of steps leads up the hillside to the Observation Deck and the end-point for this mapped route. © Swati Gunale