Have you hiked any of the Indiana State Park hiking challenges? If not, you are missing out! In an effort to get Hoosiers moving at its state parks and reservoirs, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources has created five, fun hiking challenges. Including the 6 Ravine Challenge at Shades State Park. The challenge is a rugged hike through the park’s wooded ravines. The loop trail winds alongside trickling creeks and waterfalls, over man-made steps and up ladders, with hilltop vistas of beautiful Sugar Creek. Here we provide our experience hiking the challenge, what we enjoyed, what we would do differently next time, and what you need to know before setting out to hike the Shades 6 Ravine Challenge!
Shades 6 Ravine Challenge
We here at Road Trip 7 are no strangers to hiking challenges. Last year, we completed the 52 Hike Challenge. This year, we have been working on a new challenge, to visit all of our state parks. While visiting the Indiana State Parks, we have completed some of the Indiana DNR hiking challenges, including the 6 Ravine Challenge at Shades State Park. We hiked this challenge on a sunny, crisp February day, which was perfect because it was quite the workout. Much of this rugged hike follows streambeds as it winds through the park’s ravines, up and down ~570 man-made steps, and up 3 ladders for a total climb of 1110 ft. If you love to hike and enjoy a challenge, this hike will not disappoint!
A Description of the 6 Ravine Challenge
Before hiking any trail, it’s a good idea to know what to expect. From the length of the trail to its difficulty. Here is the basic trail information for the hiking the Shades 6 Ravine Challenge. Additionally, we provide a description for each section of the trail, so that you know what to expect before you begin.
Distance: 4.5 miles
Total Climb: 1110 ft
Total Descent: 1030 ft
Time: 2-3 hours. We completed the challenge in 2 hr 45 minutes, with plenty of breaks for photos and exploration.
Starting Point: Hickory Shelter
Trail Map: https://www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/files/shades_trail.pdf
Beginning at the west end of the Hickory Shelter parking lot, you start the 6 Ravine Challenge hiking along the Backpacking Trail. The fairly flat trail leads west through a wooded area, intersecting with Trail 8 twice. Take a right at the second intersection, heading north on Trail 8 as it leads into Shawnee Canyon.
Hiking on Trail 8, you’ll head north alongside a stream as it descends through the relatively open Shawnee Canyon to Sugar Creek. With frequent stream crossings, the trail may be impassable after recent rainfalls. We strongly recommend wearing waterproof hiking boots.
Upon reaching Sugar Creek, Trail 8 makes a U-turn, heading south a short stretch before intersecting with Trail 7.
Continuing south on Trail 7, you hike up Kickapoo Ravine mostly through a streambed. Again, waterproof shoes are ideal. After the uphill climb, Trail 7 heads east through a mature forest before meeting the Trail 4 loop.
The challenge leads you north on the western portion of Trail 4, where you will hike along the ravine’s ridge as you once again descend toward Sugar Creek.
At the creek, the trail turns back south, leading directly up the Frisz Ravine streambed. This eastern portion of Trail 4 is where things become more rugged. There are man-made steps and ladders to traverse steeper portions of the ravine. If you are hiking the 6 Ravine Challenge with kids, they will no doubt find this section to be lots of fun! Leaving Frisz Ravine, head east to Trail 5.
Similar to the Trail 4 loop, Trail 5 descends north to Sugar Creek through the Kintz Ravine, before turning south and ascending back up to the Hickory Shelter. Again, this rugged trail follows a streambed, has multiple man-made steps and a ladder. After hiking Trail 5 through the ravine, head east past the Hickory Shelter to Trail 1.
Prospect & Inspiration Points
Following the upper portion of Trail 1, you’ll hike atop a river bluff, stopping at both Prospect and Inspiration Points for views of Sugar Creek and Canoe Island. Ironically, we found the Prospect Point vista to be more inspirational than the somewhat obscured view from Inspiration Point.
Silver Cascade Falls
Upon completing the upper Trail 1 loop, the trail leads down a lengthy set of stairs to a viewpoint of Silver Cascade Falls. We likened these falls to giant waterslide, with a stream trickling over smoothed rock leading to Sugar Creek. While they appear inviting, especially if hiking during warm weather, hikers are prohibited from entering the area surrounding the falls due to the risk of injury.
Continue on Trail 1 through the deep, narrow ravine that is known as Devil’s Punchbowl. This more rugged portion of Trail 1 again follows a streambed and has sections with steps. Upon exiting the Punchbowl, continue on Trail 1 until it reaches Trail 6.
Red Fox Ravine
The last portion of the challenge provides a reprieve from the constant descent / ascent, as it follows Trail 6 through the slightly more level Red Fox Ravine. We enjoyed this easy stretch, hiking along a streambed through an open, forested ravine. If you are hiking with younger children, this ravine is ideal for creek stomping and water play. After looping through the ravine, Trail 6 returns to the Hickory Shelter parking lot for a total hike of ~4.5 miles.
We completed the 6 Ravine Challenge in 2 hours and 45 minutes, with plenty of stops for photos, a snack break, and time exploring. If you are able to complete the hike in one continuous loop, as we did, you can earn a “6 Ravine Challenge” sticker. To do so, take photos at Shawnee Canyon, Kickapoo Ravine, Frisz Ravine, Kintz Ravine, Silver Cascade Falls, and Red Fox Ravine. Show the photos to a park employee at the Gatehouse, Camp Store or Nature Center for the special sticker. Sticker or no sticker, we hope that this post has inspired you to hike some or all of the trails in Shades 6 Ravine Challenge!
Pay Attention to the Weather. Avoid hiking after a recent rainfall, as much of the hike is along streambeds, which may be impassable due to high water.
Know Your Limits. With ~1100 ft of climbing, this challenge is quite the workout! Due to the strenuous nature, it is ideal for older kids and adults who are at a minimum, moderately active. While challenging, this hike would still be fun for younger kids who enjoy creek stomping. If attempting with little children, we recommend hiking in the warmer months, allowing plenty of time for playing in streams.
Enjoy this Post? Pin It!