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Spring Mill Events
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. Spring Mill Lake is being restored.
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. Program schedules.
Selected caves at Spring Mill State Park and Cave River Valley Natural Area are open for limited access for self-guided recreational groups. This program is a 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), a fungus that is killing bats in large numbers.
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.
Twin Caves Boat Tour
Open daily from Memorial Day Weekend thru mid-August, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Open weekends from mid-August thru mid-October, 9 a.m. to 5 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 $3 per person. Children under age 3 and pets are not allowed on the tour. Food and drinks not allowed on boats. Guides pull the boats through a stream passage while highlighting cave formations and searching for cave animals (the endangered blind cavefish is a common sighting).
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.
Open Daily from March thru October, 10 a.m. to 5 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.
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.
Open daily year-round, 8 a.m. to 4 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, the Gemini 3 Molly Brown spacecraft, and artifacts from his personal and professional life.
Camping - See campground maps under MAPS tab
DESCRIPTION OF HIKING TRAILS
Note: For trail locations, view the property map under the MAPS tab.
1. MODERATE (.375 mile)—Short loop from inn to foot of hill, along Donaldson branch and lake, and returns up the hill to the inn.
2. MODERATE (.5 mile)—Connects village parking area to picnic area and Nature Center.
3. RUGGED (2.5 miles)—Long loop trail. Enter near the Donaldson parking lot. Passes Donaldson Cave overlook, then through dense woods, past sinkholes, then Bronson Cave, on to Twin Caves, through virgin timber of Donaldson Woods Nature Preserve. Returns to Donaldson picnic area.
4. RUGGED (2 miles)—Loop trail may be entered from Trail 4 at picnic area or junction of 1 and 4 near inn. Goes by Donaldson Cave and Hamer Cemetery to village.
5. MODERATE (1 mile)—Loops around lake. Follows lower section of lake from bridge, then around to boat docks, near Trail 2, which leads to the picnic area and parking area.
6. ACCESSIBLE (.25 mile)—Paved trail. Loops around Virgil I. Grissom Memorial.
7. EASY (1.75 miles)—Loops through and around Oak Ridge picnic area. Ties into Trail 4 between Hamer Cemetery and village.
Stagecoach Trail (.5 mile)—Rugged. Follows old roadbed from village, up hill, to Oak Ridge picnic area and playground. A two-mile mountain bike trail is now available for use. The trailhead is located near the campstore. Mountain bikes can be rented at the bike rental. Bicycles permitted only on paved roadways. Skateboarding and inline skating prohibited.
PLEASE STAY ON MARKED TRAILS.