Shades State Park

Shades State Park is a relatively undeveloped park that includes more than three thousand acres of woods and ravines along the banks of Sugar Creek. Unlike nearby Turkey Run, there is no swimming pool, no nature center, and no inn.


Probably as a consequence, Shades receives far fewer visitors than its neighbor. For seekers of solitude, or at least relative solitude, this is a good thing. Shades lacks the spectacular rock formations of Turkey Run or Pine Hills, but the low visitor count is a strong point in its favor.


There are ten trails, all south of Sugar Creek. Many follow the same basic pattern – you’ll start by heading north on top of a ridge line toward Sugar Creek, then return along the bottom of a ravine. Some of these return legs are a real scramble over pools, mud, loose rock, and vegetation. Many will be unsafe during high water.

Sugar Creek

Trail 1 is something like a squashed figure eight. It offers overlooks of Sugar Creek at Inspiration Point (observation platform) and Prospect Point.

Silver Cascades

The eastern leg of the trail includes a long, steep staircase to Silver Cascade Falls, remarkable for the convex shape of the underlying rock. The return is through an impressive canyon reminiscent of Turkey Run; it ends at the Devil’s Punchbowl.


Trail 2 is a lollipop that heads to the creek, then returns via Pearl Ravine, passing interesting rock formations and Maidenhair Falls en route.


Trails 4 and 5 are notable for their ladders; #4 passes through a narrow canyon. Trails 7 and 8 are more subtle but nonetheless interesting, particularly the ravine bottoms.

Trail 10 connects Shades to the adjacent must-see Pine Hills Nature Preserve.


Finally, Shades offers a short (2 ˝ mile) backpacking trail that leads to a separate hike-in only campground along Sugar Creek; I tried this trail on my first backpacking trip and recommend it.


Montgomery and Parke counties. From the intersection of IN 47 and IN 234, west 4.9 miles on IN 234, then left 0.8 miles on 800 S to the entrance. There is usually an entrance fee.

North 39 55.519 West 87 04.306
DeLorme 37:F8/9

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Campgrounds, pit toilets, modern restroom.

Nearby Natural Areas

Pine Hills Nature Preserve
Turkey Run State Park


Bloom: Hiking Indiana; Page 99, 104
Goll: Indiana State Parks; Page 188
Habeck: Wild Indiana; Page 76
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
McPherson: Indiana Best Hikes; Page 266