When the weather is nice, it’s rare to find us indoors. My middle kid is feral and when he’s stuck inside he acts like the caged animal he is. This summer we spent nearly every weekend somewhere new. Mounds State Park in Anderson, Indiana is less than half an hour from our house so we skipped over for park barbecue and some hiking on a warm Sunday afternoon. The park is just over 250 acres of woods, trails, a campground, swimming pool, and river access, along with the prehistoric structures that give the park it’s name.
Whenever we visit a new park we make a bee line for the nature center to get a look at the scheduled activities for the day and talk to the rangers about whatever makes that place special. Mounds State Park’s nature center is full of creepy crawlies, like snakes and frogs which my kids were obsessed with. They spent half an hour peering into each terrarium, seeking out whatever local animal was perched on a branch or hiding under a rock.
The day we were there, the naturalists were doing a talk about box turtles and even let the kids feed their three residents carrots and apple slices. Sometimes nature talks can regurgitate what most people already know but all of us gained some useful information about turtles (like some of them can’t swim), and Indiana laws regarding indigenous species. Everyone working at this Indiana State Park seemed very dedicated to their mission of conservation.
This is the kind of park where you need the map. For some reason every single trail sign we came across said 3 or 6. Sometimes we’d come to a four way crossing and all the signs, pointing in four different directions would have the same number on them. We did have a map so we didn’t get to turned around but I could imagine walking in circles for a while before you realized you’d been wandering aimlessly. Mound State Park does have several hikes of varying lengths and difficulties. Some are even good for wheelchairs and strollers as they are paved.
The White River runs along the western edge of the park and we wanted to find a trail that would let us peel our socks off and rest weary feet in the cool water so we headed down. Not too long after we made it to the bottom of the hill, we eventually found a rocky little beach at the end of a scraggly path off the main trail. We threw rocks and watched people float by on kayaks. At the peak of summer, the water was low and the kids could wade out pretty far without having to worry about any swift moving water. Even Guy and Hank got in on the splashing.
Mounds State Park gets it’s name from the ancient Native American land structure dating back to 160 BCE. The park is situated around the 10 mounds that are believed to have been a meeting place and ceremonial grounds for the Adena-Hopewell people. My kids were more interested in splashing in the river but Guy and I appreciated their longevity.
We didn’t camp here but they do have a campground with 75 campsites, flush toilets and showers. Electrical hookups are available for anyone with a camper or RV. Fees vary by season and day of the week. They start at $16 a night. Reservations can be made in advance via Reserve America.
4306 Mounds Road
Anderson, IN 46017
Hours of operation vary
$7 per car for Indiana residents
$9 per car for our of state visitors
$50 a year pass that runs from January 1st through December 31st of a calendar year.
$2 per pedestrian or bicyclist.