Cook Creek Park
One of our favorite places for an easy outdoor escape in the Indianapolis-area is Cool Creek Park. Located between Carmel and Westfield, this 90-acre park offers a nature center, hiking trails, paved roads for biking & rollerblading, basketball courts, a music pavilion and a playground. Our kids enjoy the playground, which has equipment for toddlers to tweens. But their favorite thing to do at Cool Creek Park is creek stomping. While we’ve been creek stomping at numerous local parks, Cool Creek Park is hands-down the best and easiest place for creek stomping with kids in Indianapolis.
Creek Stomping Programs
During the summer months, Cool Creek Park offers free 90-minute creek stomping programs for kids. Yes, you heard that right, the programs are free. But that’s not even the best part: the free creek stomping programs don’t require a parent! They are a drop-off program, which means you can let someone else watch your kids muck around in the water and mud. In order to participate, you simply call the park to register in advance.
I registered all three boys for a creek stomping session this past July. Although it’s a drop-off program, kids must be at least 3 years old and potty-trained to participate. I wasn’t sure how 3-year-old Joe would do, so I decided to stay. As you can see, the goofball had a good time.
After signing in at the nature center, teams of park volunteers lead small groups to various sites along Cool Creek. Our group leaders chose a site just underneath this footbridge.
The park lends participants nets and buckets. The volunteers help kids find water striders, minnows, and crawfish.
It’s difficult, but if you look closely you can see a rather large crawfish in the bucket. We also found some interesting fossils, although we weren’t exactly sure what type. A quick Google revealed that they were most likely brachiopods.
After creek stomping, we spent some time exploring Cool Creek’s 4.0 miles of wooded hiking trails. Lining the trails are bench swings perfect for relaxing, enjoying the sounds of nature, and perhaps spotting a few deer wandering through the woods.
Before leaving, we briefly stopped inside the Cool Creek Nature Center. We didn’t have much time to spend, but the boys enjoyed their short time spent checking out the exhibits. Many of which are focused on animals native to the area, especially birds.
If we could pass along one tip, it would be to wear a swimsuit. While we wore our favorite Keen Newport waterproof sandals, it didn’t occur to me to dress the boys in swimwear. Big mistake! They had so much fun trudging through the creek that they were soaked by the time the program finished. Next time they will come prepared in swim trunks and rashguards.