Tunnel Falls, Indiana

Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana (right near the Kentucky border) has four waterfalls that are 60+’ tall. It’s actually an impressive sight, as your brain may not associate Indiana with waterfalls, or especially tall waterfalls. The tallest waterfall in the park, at 83′, is Tunnel Falls.

I’m not sure what the perfect time to show up at the park is. I went in March 2014 and it had rained a bit, so most of the falls were at least running in the park. I noticed, though, that many of the falls are partially blocked by trees, so sometime when the trees don’t have leaves might be best. Now, there are a number of trails that lead to the base of some of the falls, but some of these hikes are long and/or strenuous, so I didn’t do any of those hikes (or wasn’t very successful at finding the trails). So you can view the four falls with shorter hikes, but you just won’t be able to guarantee the greatest of views. It’s still worth a visit if you’re in the area.

Directions:

  1. There are two entrances to the park, and both are found between Hanover and Madison. The north entrance is off of IN-62. The south entrance is off of IN-56. Both will get you to the waterfalls, as the road loops around the park.
  2. The north entrance will get you to the viewpoint for Tunnel Falls slightly quicker. (If you are heading east along IN-62, you would turn right into the park at the north entrance.)
  3. If I remember correctly, there are pretty clear signs for each of the falls. There may be two parking areas that you can view Tunnel Falls, with one on the north side (Hickory Grove), and one on the south side directly opposite. I think the photo below is from the south parking area.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 83′
Length of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip

Tunnel Falls Indiana (11)

Tunnel Falls in March 2014

Where in the World is Tunnel Falls?

Little Clifty Falls, Indiana

Little Clifty Falls in March 2014

You may not think Indiana has any interesting waterfalls, but interestingly enough, it does. There are a number of tall, rather impressive waterfalls in the state, and while many of them are concentrated in the southernmost portion, a few others are scattered throughout the state.

When I originally traveled to Indiana, Clifty Falls State Park was very high on my list (along with the indefinitely closed Tioga Falls in Kentucky). I visited in late March before the leaves on the trees had emerged, and that was probably a good thing… The day was beautiful, if a bit cool. After visiting Clifty Falls State Park, though, I was a bit disappointed.

There are viewing areas for the falls that are easily accessible, but those specific viewpoints all have trees blocking at least part of the view. Little Clifty Falls was no exception. I followed the trail that wanders close to the falls and crosses the creek (using a bridge) just upstream of the falls. Whether you’re on the left or right side of the falls, it’s unlikely you’ll get any good views. And once the leaves are out, the view might be worse.

There isn’t any designated way to arrive at the base of the falls, partly because it would require walking up the creek or doing something infinitely more dangerous and stupid. There is a way to get to the base of Clifty Falls (by walking up that creek), though I can’t remember whether that trail was accessible at the time of my visit…(I may have been too tired to hike the almost 3 miles to get to the base, since there’s no easy access point.)

While I would stop by Clifty Falls State Park if you’re in the area, I’m not sure I would go out of my way for it unless you want to really check it off your list. It rained later that night, and after finding out about the Hemlock Cliffs, I visited what I think are the much more interesting (and more up-close) Hemlock Cliff Falls #1 and #2. (They’re not exactly extremely close to Clifty Falls State Park…After a good rain, though, they are beautiful!)

Directions:

  1. There are two entrances to the park, and both are found between Hanover and Madison. The north entrance is off of IN-62. The south entrance is off of IN-56. Both will get you to the waterfalls, as the road loops around the park.
  2. The north entrance will get you to the viewpoint for Little Clifty Falls slightly quicker. (If you are heading east along IN-62, you would turn right into the park at the north entrance.)
  3. Once you enter the park, there are pretty clear signs indicating where to drive to see Clifty Falls, and that is where you will also find Little Clifty Falls.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: 0.2 miles round-trip
Height: 60′

Where in the World is Little Clifty Falls?

Hemlock Cliffs Falls #2, Indiana

The view of this Hemlock Cliffs waterfall as you descend into the gorge.

I really ended up loving the Hemlock Cliffs. I wasn’t expecting much, so when there was much more, it was really great. It’s much better than arriving at a waterfall only to find out there’s virtually no water flowing!

There are two main visible waterfalls in the Hemlock Cliffs. I’ve already posted about the first here. (I have to wonder why I called it #1, since I actually saw it second, but I guess I posted it first…) I took the path to the right, which ends up being the “right” loop trail start point. As you descend into the canyon along “rock” stairs, you’ll start to get a glimpse of this waterfall. I showed up on the perfect day when it had been raining for a while. I was loving the rain this day!

The falls are probably 50′ or so in height, though that is a rather rough estimate. This waterfall definitely looks different at various vantage points, so you’ll want to explore as much as possible. The first photo to the right shows what it looked like I as I went into the gorge. The second picture below shows what it looked like as I was in front of it nearer to the base. It’s a really spectacular waterfall, though you need to make sure to show up at the correct time after it has rained to guarantee seeing this waterfall.

Directions:

  1. From I-64, take exit 86, and head north along IN-237 (aka Main Street).
  2. After just a few miles, turn left onto Union Chapel Road and drive 2.6 miles.
  3. Continue along County Road 8, which was Union Chapel, but changes to Hatfield Road. (There’s a veer to the right as the road changes names.)
  4. Continue along Hatfield Road until you reach the National Forest Service Road to the Hemlock Cliffs. The signage along the way is great, so just keep looking for “Hemlock Cliffs”. The NFS is narrow and leads to a parking area.
  5. From the parking area, you can head in two directions, as the trail forms a loop. You’ll see both falls along the way.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easier when dry, but not as exciting)
Height: 30′
Hike: 1 mile (round trip)

Where in the World is Hemlock Cliffs Falls #2?

Hemlock Cliff waterfall #2 near the base (March 2014)

Hemlock Cliffs Falls #1, Indiana

Waterfall in the Hemlock Cliffs (March 2014)

When I visit a waterfall in a new state, or have just visited a certain area, I often start by reporting the first waterfall I see. In this case, I’m going to report one of the last waterfalls I visited, since it ended up being much more impressive than I expected. Just this past weekend, I visited southern Indiana, trying to find waterfalls. I started at Clifty Falls State Park, which has four very nice waterfalls. They can be difficult to photograph, though, and it is a challenge to get interesting views. I had then planned to visit Tioga Falls in Kentucky, only to discover that the trail has been “closed” for almost two years. I’m honestly glad I didn’t drive out of my way to be disappointed.

So where else do I head? I saw Hemlock Cliffs on a few websites, but they often seem to suggest there’s nothing extremely interesting to see. And I guess at certain times of the year, they would be completely right. But, by pure luck, it was raining. It was raining consistently on Saturday. What does this mean? The waterfalls in the Hemlock Cliffs were spectacular! (There were waterfalls springing from other cliffs along highways.) The trail was very manageable, which made my day! Since the creeks were flowing well, it did mean you had to cross a few more streams than normal, but I managed to stay surprisingly dry.

There are at least two impressive waterfalls that can be seen up close and in person without much effort. There are a few others that are hidden from view. On a rainy day, there are also a number of much smaller, very ephemeral falls.  This first waterfall is relatively tall (50’+ or so), and you can actually walk behind the falls. (It’s not very obvious at first, unless you come from the right direction.) So if you’re in southern Indiana, and it’s raining, take some time to visit the Hemlock Cliffs. You won’t regret it! (The second waterfall is posted here.)

Directions:

  1. From I-64, take exit 86, and head north along IN-237 (aka Main Street).
  2. After just a few miles, turn left onto Union Chapel Road and drive 2.6 miles.
  3. Continue along County Road 8, which was Union Chapel, but changes to Hatfield Road. (There’s a veer to the right as the road changes names.)
  4. Continue along Hatfield Road until you reach the National Forest Service Road to the Hemlock Cliffs. The signage along the way is great, so just keep looking for “Hemlock Cliffs”. The NFS is narrow and leads to a parking area.
  5. From the parking area, you can head in two directions, as the trail forms a loop. You’ll see both falls along the way.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate, easier when dry, but not as exciting)
Height: 30′
Hike: 1 mile (round trip)

Where in the World is Hemlock Cliffs Falls #1?