Whether you’re looking for a way to get more active outdoors or you want to spend a relaxed day in nature, you’ll find plenty to do in and around Carmel. Our area features a wide array of trails suited to hikes for the whole family.

From short, easy loops to trails you can spend hours exploring, there’s truly something for everyone right here in our own backyard. Crème de la Crème of Carmel, IN put together this list of trails to hike close to home to take the guesswork out of planning your next family adventure. No matter your family’s needs, there’s a great trail nearby you’re sure to love.

Flowing Well Park

A father and daughter walking down a forest trail.

Image free to use under the Unsplash License by @jule_42

Head over to the nearby Flowing Well Park for an easy hike suited to all skill levels. You’ll find a short 1.1-mile trail, so if you want a hike that takes only around a half-hour, you can’t go wrong with this popular local spot. You’ll stroll by a river, making Flowing Well Park a great place for a nature trip. The trail is also great for hiking, running, and even walking with your dog, as long as you keep it on a leash.

Flowing Well Park is an 18-acre city park featuring an artesian well at its start. Although the beginning of the trail is partially paved, most is a dirt path. Still, there’s little change in elevation, so this trail makes for a relatively easy hike. You’ll also cross two bridges over Cool Creek as you go. The park is generally open from sunrise to sunset.

Monon Trail

Ideal for all skill levels and accessible right here in Carmel, Monon Trail makes the ideal place for a family hike. The point-to-point trail is nearly 20 miles. It’s perfect for hiking as well as nature trips, walking, and running, providing a picturesque setting through a forest sure to keep every member of the family entertained.

The rails-to-trails paved path spans through Central Indiana, connecting to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and downtown Indianapolis. The trail begins at Carmel’s trailhead at 96th Street, then goes through Westfield and Grand Park to Sheridan. You’ll pass by plenty to do along the way, including the Carmel Arts and Design district and various shops and restaurants. You can find free parking and access points at places like Main Street in Carmel.

Because the trail goes through a few different cities, you’ll need to keep different rules and hours in mind depending on where you are. Monon Trail is open 24 hours a day between 10th Street and 96th Street, from dawn to dusk between 96th Street and 146th Street, and from sunrise to sunset north of 146th Street. Hiking the whole trail can take nearly eight hours, but you can easily explore shorter portions close to Carmel to suit your family’s needs.

River Road Park White River Trail

You also won’t want to miss River Road Park White River Trail if you’re looking to spend a longer time hiking. You’ll need about 1.5 hours to explore the entirety of this 3.6-mile out and back trail, but it’s still good for all skill levels. This trail is best for walks between the months of April and November. You’ll find the trail in River Road Park, which runs along the White River’s banks, so it’s ideal for a scenic day out in nature. The park is open 24 hours a day.

Keep in mind that you’ll come across some neighborhood road crossings, so stay safe while you’re walking with the kids. The trail is made of asphalt and cement, and it’s generally around seven feet wide with mostly gentle sloping. All in all, this trail offers an easy walk that’s sure to keep kids engaged.

Town Run Trail Park

You’ll find Town Run Trail Park right in Carmel’s Hazel Landing Park, making it a great option for a day outdoors close to home. This heavily trafficked loop trail is ideal for mountain biking, but you can also use it for nature walks and bird watching. You can even take your dog along for the walk, as long as you keep your pet on a leash.

The 6.6-mile trail is rated as moderate and best for trips between April and October. You’ll find a river along the way, making for a particularly scenic hike. Hazel Landing Park is generally open from sunrise to sunset, but keep in mind that seasonal closures because of weather conditions do occur.

Tulip/PawPaw Trail Loop and Cool Creek Park

If you’re looking for another short, kid-friendly hike close to Carmel, you can’t go wrong with the Tulip/PawPaw Trail Loop in Cool Creek Park. This loop trail is just 0.9 miles, and it’s good for any skill level. It’s a great trail for nature trips, walking, running, and hiking, and you can take your leashed dog along for the walk as well. You’ll need a little over 20 minutes. Overall, Cool Creek Park boasts 4 miles of wooded trails, so you can easily expand your hiking adventure after exploring the loop if your kids are up for more walking.

You’ll want to take some time to check out the rest of Cool Creek Park when you’re here for a hike, too. One of Hamilton County’s most popular parks, the 90-acre area is home to the Cool Creek Nature Center. This is the place to go to learn more about the science of Indiana woodlands, preservation, and more. The Cool Creek Nature Center is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sundays.

That concludes Crème de la Crème of Carmel’s list of some of the very best places to hike near Carmel. Whether your kids are eager to spend a whole day hiking or you’re searching for a shorter walk that still lets you get out and enjoy the great outdoors, our area makes finding the perfect trail easy. Does your family have another place close to Carmel that you love to visit when you’re in the mood for a hike? Let us know so we can add it to our list!