Central Indiana Birding Opportunities -McCormick’s Creek State Park
Indiana’s first State Park, McCormick’s Creek, boasts nearly 2,000 acres of scenic woodlands and a diversity of other habitats: floodplain, wetland, creek, river, rocky outcroppings, karst plains, and a mosaic of different aged forest stands.
Echo Canyon and its falls are the park’s scenic centerpiece and the expected kingfishers and waterthrushes can be found here along Trail 3.
The best birding hike starts at the year-round nature center. Stop inside to see the feeders and reliably see Rose-breasted Grosbeaks in the spring and early summer. Take the paved Trail 8 into Wolf Cave Nature Preserve, then make a loop on Trail 5 past the cave and along the Litten Branch Creek back to Trail 8 and the nature center. Wolf Cave Nature Preserve’s mature, mesic forest is a hotspot for wood warblers, flycatchers, tanagers, and thrushes. Exciting finds include Worm-eating, Hooded, Magnolia, and Cerulean Warblers. The preserve’s karst plain boasts a fine display of spring wildflowers around migration time!
Trail 7 provides rugged beauty along the canyon’s rim and down into the White River floodplain. In the winter, the outcroppings and tangled shrubs host Winter Wrens, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and mixed flocks of winter residents. The patient birder can occasionally be rewarded with a Bald Eagle along the river.
Owls are spotted with regularity in the playfield behind Canyon Inn and the surrounding forest edges. Consider looking for them along Trails 2 and 4.
eBird Hotspot Link:
Total Birding Time:
Best Times to Bird:
250 McCormick’s Creek Park Rd
Spencer, IN 47460
McCormick’s Creek State Park is on Highway 46 just east of Spencer and 15 miles west of Bloomington.
Hours: Regular park hours are 7am-11pm.
Ownership: Indiana Department of Natural Resources, Division of State Parks
Admission: $7/vehicle with Indiana license plate, $9/vehicle out-of-state. Free admission with annual entrance permit and in many days through the winter.
Restrictions: Please obey all rules and regulations. A summary of property rules can be found at stateparks.IN.gov/6468.htm.
Parking: Ample parking is available at trailheads, the nature center, picnic areas, and at Canyon Inn.
Nearby Amenities: Canyon Inn serves food and has a serene birdwatching “porch” in their dining room. The park has a nature center with modern restrooms and a birdwatching area. Modern restrooms are also available at the Canyon Inn and park office, and vault toilets are in the park as well. Scenic downtown has several dining options and other attractions like art galleries, breweries, and coffee shops.
Accessibility: Trail 8 is paved and Trail 3 from Canyon Inn to the falls overlook is easily traversed. Facilities are ADA accessible.
Phone Number: Office (812)829-2235 Nature Center (812)829-4344
Written by: Wyatt Williams
Photo by: April Raver