Backpacking in Indiana: Exploring Hidden Gem Trails

Backpacking in indiana

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Indiana is a state that offers a variety of backpacking trails for the adventurous hiker. From state parks to the Indiana Dunes National Park, backpackers can experience the natural beauty of the state while exploring hidden gem trails.

With numerous trail options available, backpackers can enjoy a range of landscapes, including lush forests, serene lakes, and rugged hills. 

State parks like Morgan Monroe and Hoosier National Forest offer backpackers the opportunity to explore the state’s natural beauty up close, while the Indiana Dunes National Park boasts stunning views of the shoreline and dunes.

Indiana backpacking trails can be found all across the state, with options for both novice and experienced hikers. 

Backpackers can also access peninsula trail maps and driving directions to make planning their trip a breeze. 

With so many options available, the only limit to backpackers’ adventures is their own desire to explore.

Backpacking in Indiana

Backpacking in Indiana

Explore Indiana’s diverse landscapes while backpacking. Hike the Knobstone Trail for challenging terrain and scenic views. Discover Hoosier National Forest’s lush woodlands and hidden lakes. 

Don’t miss Turkey Run State Park’s rugged canyons and suspension bridge. Experience the cultural charm of Indianapolis with its museums and vibrant neighborhoods. 

Camp along the Wabash River for a serene overnight stay. Enjoy the simplicity of Indiana’s rural beauty and friendly communities.

Embrace the state’s rich history at Conner Prairie, a living history museum

Whether exploring natural wonders or cultural gems, Indiana offers a unique backpacking experience for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Indiana offers a variety of backpacking trails in state parks and the Indiana Dunes National Park.
  • Backpackers can enjoy a range of landscapes, including forests, lakes, and hills.
  • There are numerous trail options available for both novice and experienced hikers.
  • Peninsula trail maps and driving directions are available to help plan backpacking trips in Indiana.
  • Backpackers can experience the natural beauty of Indiana while exploring hidden gem trails.

Top Backpacking Trails in Indiana

backpacking Indiana

Indiana offers some of the best backpacking trails in the country. From lakeside hikes to forested trails, there’s something for every kind of adventurer. 

Here are some of the top backpacking trails in Indiana:

Name of TrailLocationLength
Hoosier National ForestSouthern IndianaOver 300 miles of trail
Knobstone TrailSouthern Indiana58 miles
Dunes National ParkNorthern IndianaOver 14 miles of trail
Deam Wilderness Adventure Hiking TrailSouthern IndianaOver 40 miles of trail
Monroe State ForestSouth-central IndianaOver 43 miles of trail

The Hoosier National Forest is the perfect choice for hikers looking for a more challenging trail. 

With over 300 miles of trail through the forest and hills of southern Indiana, there’s plenty to explore.  The Knobstone Trail is another popular backpacking trail in Indiana

This 58-mile trail runs through the southern part of the state, offering hikers challenging terrain and beautiful views.

For those looking for a more scenic hike, the Dunes National Park is a perfect choice. This 14-mile trail provides breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and the surrounding sand dunes. 

If you’re looking for an overnight backpacking trip, the Deam Wilderness Adventure Hiking Trail is a great option with over 40 miles of trail to explore. 

Lastly, Monroe State Forest is a great place to hike with over 43 miles of trails. Indiana’s state parks also offer some great backpacking opportunities. 

Check out the state parks such as McCormick’s Creek, Spring Mill, and Shades State Park for more hiking opportunities.

Whether you’re looking for a challenging hike or a scenic stroll, Indiana has plenty of backpacking trails to explore. So pack your bags, lace up your shoes, and hit the trails!

Best Backpacking Spots in Indiana

backpacking in Indiana Dunes

Indiana is home to some of the most beautiful and scenic backpacking spots in the country. Whether you are an experienced backpacker or just starting, Indiana offers something for everyone. 

From the Indiana Dunes to the Morgan Monroe State Forest, there are plenty of spots to explore and enjoy.

Indiana Dunes National Park

The Indiana Dunes National Park is probably one of the most popular backpacking spots in the state. 

It consists of 15 miles of beautiful shoreline and over 45 miles of trails that offer amazing views of Lake Michigan. 

The Charles Dunes loop trail is one of the most popular among visitors and provides backpackers with amazing views of the dunes from different angles.

The park offers various camping spots for backpackers looking to spend a night or two. There are numerous options for both tent camping and RVs. 

These spots often fill up quickly, so it’s important to reserve your spot in advance.

Morgan Monroe State Forest

The Morgan Monroe State Forest covers over 24,000 acres and is a great spot for backpackers. There are over 160 miles of trails that are suitable for hikers of all skill levels. 

The forest features a number of beautiful lakes, including Monroe Lake, and is home to a variety of wildlife. The forest has numerous camping spots that are open year-round. 

The camping spots are primitive and require backpackers to pack in and pack out their own supplies. The forest also features numerous picnic spots and places to relax and enjoy the scenery.

Hoosier National Forest

The Hoosier National Forest covers over 200,000 acres and is a great spot for backpackers looking to explore Indiana’s wilderness. 

The forest features over 260 miles of trails, many of which are open year-round. 

The Deam Wilderness Adventure Hiking Trail is one of the most popular trails and is a great spot for backpackers looking for a longer hike.

The forest features numerous camping spots that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The camping spots are primitive and require backpackers to pack in and pack out their own supplies. 

The forest is also a great spot for fishing and boating. Overall, Indiana offers some of the most beautiful and scenic backpacking spots in the country. 

The Indiana Dunes National Park, Morgan Monroe State Forest, and Hoosier National Forest are just a few of the many spots that backpackers can explore. 

These locations offer breathtaking landscapes, beautiful lakes, and plenty of opportunities for camping and hiking. They are definitely worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Overnight Backpacking Trips in Indiana

For those looking for a more immersive backpacking experience, there are several overnight options available in Indiana. 

From multi-day hikes to camping trips, there’s something for every level of backpacker. Below are some of the top options for overnight backpacking trips in Indiana.

Best Backpacking Hikes in Indiana

One of the best ways to experience Indiana’s beautiful landscapes and trails is through backpacking hikes. Some of the top backpacking hikes in Indiana include:

  • Knobstone Trail: This 58-mile trail is known for its rugged terrain and stunning views of the Hoosier National Forest
  • It’s a challenging hike that’s best suited for experienced backpackers.
  • Deam Wilderness Adventure Hiking Trail: The Deam Wilderness Trail is a 37-mile loop that takes hikers through some of Indiana’s most beautiful forests and lakes. It’s a great option for backpackers looking for a multi-day adventure.
  • Morgan Monroe State Forest: With over 40 miles of trails, Morgan Monroe State Forest offers backpackers a mix of easy and challenging hikes through picturesque woods and streams.

Best Backpacking Spots in Indiana

If you’re looking for a unique backpacking experience in Indiana, consider these top spots:

  • Indiana Dunes National Park: Located along Lake Michigan, this national park features towering sand dunes and scenic beaches. There are several backpacking trails available for overnight camping.
  • Charles C Deam Wilderness: This 13,000-acre wilderness area is home to varied landscapes, including forests, hills, and lakes. Backpackers can access various loop trails and camping spots.
  • Hoosier National Forest: With over 100 miles of backpacking trails, Hoosier National Forest offers a range of options for overnight hiking and camping. Some trails, like the Peninsula Trail, offer stunning views of the forest and the opportunity to see wildlife.

Best Backpacking in Southern and Northern Indiana

For backpackers looking to explore Southern Indiana, the best option is to head to the Hoosier National Forest, which offers several backpacking trails of varying lengths and difficulty levels. 

Northern Indiana backpackers can try the Pigeon River State Fish & Wildlife Area, which features several scenic hiking trails and camping areas.


Indiana offers a wealth of hiking and backpacking opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts of all levels.

From the scenic trails of Aurora and Bloomington to the beautiful landscapes of Brookville and Columbus, hikers can explore a range of terrains and habitats across Central and Eastern Indiana. 

The state’s many parks, including Indiana Dunes National Park, offer some of the best hiking experiences, with numerous trails and camping spots to choose from.

Carmel and Fishers are perfect destinations for those looking to combine hiking and camping, with plenty of options for both. 

Huntington and Hanover offer unique hiking experiences, with trails that take hikers through lush forests and picturesque landscapes. 

For those looking for family-friendly hikes, Hammond and Greenwood have numerous trails that are easy and accessible.

Aside from hiking, Indiana is also a great place to live, with a relatively low cost of living compared to other states in the USA. 

The average cost of having a baby is also lower than the national average, making Indiana an attractive destination for families. 

With so many hiking and backpacking opportunities available, as well as its affordable living costs, Indiana is definitely an underrated gem for outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers.


  1. What are the top backpacking trails in Indiana?

    The top backpacking trails in Indiana include Hoosier National Forest, Knobstone Trail, and Monroe State Forest.

  2. Where are the best backpacking spots in Indiana?

    The best backpacking spots in Indiana are Indiana Dunes, Morgan Monroe, and Charles Dunes.

  3. What are some popular overnight backpacking trips in Indiana?

    Popular overnight backpacking trips in Indiana include camping in Hoosier National Forest, multi-day adventures on Knobstone Trail, and exploring the backpacking spots in Southern and Northern Indiana.

  4. Where can I find information on hiking trails in Indiana?

    You can find information on hiking trails in Indiana through the DNR State Parks website, trail maps, driving directions, and by searching online platforms like Google and AllTrails.

  5. Are there any convenient backpacking spots near Indianapolis?

    Yes, there are several convenient backpacking spots near Indianapolis, including Indiana Dunes, Morgan Monroe, and Charles Dunes. These spots offer beautiful landscapes, loop trails, and camping options.

  6. What are some other hiking locations in Indiana worth exploring?

    Other hiking locations in Indiana worth exploring include Aurora, Bloomington, Brookville, Columbus, Carmel, Evansville, Fishers, Greenwood, Huntington, Hanover, and Hammond.

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