Central Indiana Birding Opportunities - Cool Creek Park Nature Center

Cool Creek Park is one of Hamilton County's most popular parks, as it offers a wide variety of features and activities.

Cool Creek Park on Indiana Birding Trail


In addition to the four miles of hiking trails, a modern nature center featuring a popular bird viewing window and modern songbird taxidermy collection is also available for viewing free of charge. Opened by the Hamilton County Parks Department in 1990, Cool Creek Park has proven to be one of the best sites in Central Indiana for viewing migrant passerines.

The relatively small size of the park (91 acres) makes navigation fairly easy and unambiguous. Once inside the park you’ll find a mile-long paved loop and two separate parking areas from which you can venture forth onto the park’s three trails. The parking lots are located at the nature center and the picnic area. The 1-mile-long Beech Trail covers the north end of the park and starts at the Picnic Area parking lot. At 1.5 miles in length, Tulip Trail is the longest footpath in the park. This trail starts at the Nature Center parking lot and courses around the park’s outer boundaries. Paw-paw Trail also starts at the Nature Center parking lot. This short trail, some 0.5 miles long, leaves the Nature Center lot and runs through the southern end of the park.

A small creek (Cool Creek) also winds through the park, and although it usually dries up by late summer, it attracts a good number of birds in the spring. Footpaths flank both sides of the creek, allowing for great access throughout much of its length.

Over 160 species have been sighted in the park since it opened in 1990. Despite its small size it is an excellent spot for migrant passerines. Warbler migration in both spring and fall is typically very good, with 32 species having been recorded in the park. Thrushes and vireos also migrate through the park in good numbers.

eBird Hotspot Link:

Total Birding Time:
1-2 hours

Best Times to Bird: 
Cool Creek is most notable in spring and fall migration, but morning walks in the summer can be productive too.



Address: 2000 E 151st Street, Carmel, IN 46033
Directions: US 31, or Meridian St., runs north and south from Indianapolis towards South Bend. Exit at 151st street and travel approximately 1/8 mile east to access the main entrance with the nature center.
Hours: Park hours vary seasonally. The gates are often open by 8 a.m. on weekday mornings and at 10 a.m. on weekends and holidays. Closed on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day.
Ownership: Hamilton County Parks
Admission: Free
Parking: Parking can be found throughout the park.
Nearby Amenities: The nature center offers modern restrooms. The nearby Carmel and Indianapolis metro area is also within doorsteps of the park, offering all possible amenities needed.
Accessibility: The park is very accessible and provides an easy walk for birders of all ages
Website: hamiltoncounty.in.gov/296/Parks-Recreation
Phone Number: (317) 774-2500

Written by Brad Bumgardner
Photo by
Ryan Sanderson