Charlestown State Park

Madison, Indiana 47250

Charlestown State Park

Charlestown State Park Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"A loop trail through dense floodplain forest along exposed rock outcroppings above Fourteenmile Creek."

Charlestown State Park Reviews

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3/19/2010
This hike is nIce anytime during the year. The scenery is nothing exceptional.

Ravines, easy stream crossings and plenty of trees make for a long day hike or an easy overnight backpack. This is an excellent backpack if you're just getting started or a pleasant trip for anyone who likes the outdoors. If you do the entire loop, you'll pass over a quaint, gravel-covered country road, old logging trails and single track.

The Low Gap Trail is well blazed with the exception of the spur from the Orcutt Spur Trailhead to the main loop, which will leave you scratching your head. With the exception of Sweedy Hollow, the hills are not too long or too steep. As a State Forest, there will be logging going on, so be advised. Best backcountry campsites are in the pine plantations north of the East Fork of Honey Creek. Many existing campsites show signs of over use and heavy impact. Using leave no trace practices during your visit will help preserve this area. The Forest Office, located near the Mason Ridge campground, appreciates it when you let them know you'll be in the backcounty overnight. No fee, but you must camp in designated area east of Low Gap Road. As of date of this review a new bridge was under construction on Honey Creek at Low Gap Road Trailhead, but a plank in the water made low water crossings a cinch. Easy stream crossings along entire trail, except during high water, when you might have to ford some of the Honey Creek Crossings.

Park at trailheads at south crossing where trail crosses Low Gap Road, or two lots along the Main Forest Road. You can also you park at the Forest Office on blacktop, but if you do, walk south along the Main Forest Road to the trailhead. The Orcutt Road Spur from the Forest Office is not worth the confusion.
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7/13/2009
Great trail overall...first 3 mi are the best. Back half of trail is also nice.
There is about 2mi worth of trail that is on gravel roads. It took me 3hr 30min....moving at a quick pace with limited breaks.
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4/26/2009
I've hiked this trail many times over the past five years, most recently in late April 2009. I recommend parking at the trailhead nearest the forest hq, and beginning the trail along the gravel access road. This way makes the beginning of the trail rather boring, with nearly 2 miles along access and abandoned roads, but leaves the fun for the rest of the trail.

This trail crosses quite a few small streams, climbs a few ridges, and passes by a couple of tiny ponds (which swarm with dragonflies during the summer and fall). The rock formations are interesting, but not really spectacular.

Overall, it's a nice hike close to Indy. It's strenuous enough to be a decent workout, but most people should be able to hike the trail at a respectable pace. The trail is very well maintained and clearly marked.
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4/25/2009
A nice trail, however there should be some sort of law against logging so close to the trail. there is a large section of the trail where the forest is being logged, so it is kind of disheartening to see the few big trees left being cut down or marked to be cut down. The logging machinery even drives on one section of the trail we went on. If you want a good workout or need to train for a larger hike then this is a good trail. If hiking counter clockwise the 1st half is really nice, the second half is alot of roads or old roads, and active logging
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6/1/2008
Very nice hike. Trail well marked. Good workout for those of us who don't get out much. Took a little over 5 hours to complete. Beautiful scenery and not many people.
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12/31/2007
Ascent/descent are very nice.
Problems are only with initial use-finding trailhead,north(Orcutt) stretch.
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9/1/2007
We were excited to do this trail, and took the counter-clockwise route. Once we reached the gravel access road, the trail was not marked, and the area had been heavily logged very recently. It was VERY dusty, smelled like diesel fuel, and we eventually had to turn back after about 2.5 miles. We never found the nice part of the trail and were very disappointed with our experience. It may have worked better if we had cut across the Rock Shelter Loop and skipped the Tincher Ridge Service Road.
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5/12/2007
My wife and I made the spur of the moment decision to head down Saturday night. The directions were a little iffy but we made there with few problems. Not really paying attention, we took off on the trail...the back way. This was a good thing. The 2nd half of the trail, which was our first was spent hiking along an access road. I was fairly dissapointed, until we set up camp and hiked out in the morning. The second leg of the trail turned out to be beautiful. The rock shelf was a nice touch. Overall, it was an average trail. I would definitely recommend going in the back way to save the best for last.
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6/6/2006
Overall a pretty nice, if not spectacular trail for south central Indiana. The trail conditions were generally good. Taking the trail counter-clockwise, the first half of the trail was more interesting and seemed completely deserted the day we hiked it. The northern portion is largely on gravel roads and was not nearly as enjoyable, but still seemed remote since we did not see much sign of other people. We were using the hike as training event for a summer backpacking trip so we carried full packs for the hike (45 pounds). We had to rush a bit since we had an event later in the day and got a late start. The hike took us 3 hours and 50 minutes, with very few breaks. I'd rate the trail as moderately strenuous, but much less so than many of the Knobstone trail sections.
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3/4/2006
Nice trail overall. A fair amount of abandon road and a short strech of active road are the down sides. The upsides are the nice ravines and streams as well as the cliffs. The 1 mile out and back to Draper Cabin is worth while. The trail is rated strenuous, but I would not consider it to be as difficult as some of the grueling up-and-down assaults in the Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana area. The best area for an overnight is the ravine near the east fork of Honey Creek in the pine plantation. But don't expect to find solitude if you camp in this area on the weekends. This trail is marked VERY well. A great place for a novice backpacker.
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Charlestown State Park Photos

Trail Information

Madison
Nearby City
2.2
Distance
Loop/Lollipop
Trail Type
Moderate to Difficult
Skill Level
1.5 hours
Duration
Year-round
Season
USGS: Charlestown
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Dec 2018