Trails in Indiana

Spring Mill Trails

County: 
Lawrence
City: 
Mitchell

Descriptions: 

 

Spring Mill State Park offers a powerful illustration of the link between the natural and cultural worlds. The water flowing from several cave springs led to the founding of an industrial village in the early 1800s. Pioneer entrepreneurs took advantage of a constant water source that never froze, using it to power several gristmills, a wool mill, a saw mill, and a distillery. In turn, pioneer settlers shaped the landscape around the village, clearing land for agriculture and timber.

The park today continues to illustrate how nature shapes us and how we shape our environment. A parcel of virgin timber sits in contrast to regenerated forest, a man-made lake struggles to survive against the in-flow of silt from cave-fed systems, and the native flora and fauna face challenges from man’s introduction of new species.

Visitors can explore this story in the park’s four interpretive facilities—the Pioneer Village, Nature Center, Grissom Memorial, and Twin Caves Boat Tour—and see it reflected on the landscape as they hike the trails. The interpretive staff also offers a wide variety of public programs, including an extensive special events schedule. Public programs are offered year-round. Click here for program schedules.

Please Note: Pilot program allows selected Spring Mill caves to reopen in 2014.

Selected caves at Spring Mill State Park and Cave River Valley Natural Area will reopen for limited access for self-guided recreational groups in 2014. This is a pilot program in partnership with the Indiana Karst Conservancy (IKC). Groups must register in advance through IKC, and must complete online training explaining decontamination procedures established to prevent the spread of White-nose Syndrome(WNS) to other caves and regions.

Donaldson/Bronson Cave will be available for visitation by registered groups year-round. The DNR portion of Upper Twin Cave will be available for registered groups from November 1 – May 15. Endless and River Caves in Cave River Valley Natural Area will be available for registered groups from May 1 – August 31.

Twin Caves Boat Tours will continue as usual in the park, and the dry side of Donaldson Cave, which is accessible from Trail 3, will be open to individual visitors.

Wolf Cave at McCormick’s Creek State Park will also reopen to the public in 2014. Wolf Cave’s size, location and lack of use by bats allow us to provide access for park visitors.

All other caves and sinkholes on DNR properties remain closed while research continues to determine transmission methods and the impacts of WNS on bats in Indiana and across the country. To learn more about WNS, a fungus that is killing bats in large numbers, visit www.dnr.IN.gov/batdisease. Thank you for cooperating with DNR in this effort.

Note: Privately owned show caves such as Marengo Cave, Blue Springs Cavern, Indiana Caverns and Squire Boone Cavern remain open to the public for tours.

Pioneer Village
Open Daily from May thru mid-October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Additional days and times as posted.

The restored Pioneer Village, founded in 1814, contains 20 historic buildings to explore. The centerpiece is a 3-story limestone gristmill, built in 1817, that still grinds cornmeal today. Heritage interpreters portray the year 1863 and demonstrate period crafts.

Nature Center
Open Daily from March thru October, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Nature Center overlooks Spring Mill Lake and is filled with exhibits on the park’s natural and cultural history. The live animal displays feature six native snakes and an eastern box turtle. A special children’s area includes a puppet stage, floor puzzles, and coloring area. Visitors can also drop by the office of the park naturalist to ask questions.

Nature Nook
Open Daily from mid-November thru February, Staffed Hours Vary

During the winter months, a portion of the Game Room at the Spring Mill Inn is transformed into the Nature Nook. The Nook features a drop-in craft table, natural history hand-outs, and rotating activities. The winter office for the park naturalist is located off the hallway next to the Nook.

Grissom Memorial
Open Daily Year-Round, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day.
The Grissom Memorial honors Hoosier astronaut Virgil "Gus" Grissom, one of the seven Mercury astronauts and America's second man in space. The Memorial tells the story of Gus Grissom's life and his contributions to the space program. Exhibits include Grissom's space suit, one of the space capsules he flew in, and many artifacts from his personal and professional life.

Twin Caves Boat Tour
Open Daily from Memorial Day Weekend thru mid-August, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Open Weekends from mid-August thru mid-October, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Tours run on the half-hour. Only same-day reservations are accepted and they must be made in-person at the Twin Caves shack. Cost is $1/person for ages 3-10 or $3/person for ages 11 and up; no credit cards. Children under age 3 are not allowed on the tour.

The underground world of the park is opened up to visitors on this unique cave tour. Guides pull the boats thru a stream passage while highlighting cave formations and searching for cave animals (the endangered blind cavefish is a common sighting).

Trails Map

INFO
Type of Trail: 
Park
Surface: 
Natural