Charlestown State Park is located in Southern Indiana on the bank of the Ohio River and not far from Louisville, Kentucky. Opening in 1996, this is one of Indiana’s newest state parks. Prior to becoming a state park, the land was used by the Indiana Armory Ammunition Plant. After hiking at this park, I would say that this park is a hidden gem in Indiana and probably overlooked by most people. Clifty Falls State Park is near by so I feel like a lot of people go there and skip Charlestown State Park, but I highly recommend making time to visit this park.
We started out by hiking Trail 3 first. Trail 3 and Trail 4 share the same trail head. Trail 3 heads down a steep paved road to Fourteenmile Creek. The historic Portersville Bridge has been restored and allows access to Trail 7 which is a trail around Rose Island.
When we were there, Rose Island was closed for improvements, but during the 1920’s, Rose Island was an amusement park and remnants of the park can still be seen today.
Trail 3 was just ok. I was hoping for more creek views. But it was a nice hike through the woods at 2.1 miles.
I would say that the most impressive trail at Charlestown State Park is a toss up between Trail 2 an Trail 6. Trail 2 starts near the picnic area and follows a creek for most of the way. Our first experience with the creek was when we found a little trail that lead to a rock overhang. While the creek was mostly dry, a seasonal waterfall would plunge into the pool below. Keep a look out for this short side trail.
The final trail we hiked at Charlestown was Trail 6. Trail 6 starts near the riverside overlook.
The trail head is across the road and it climbs the towering bluffs.
From here, the trail meanders along the top of the bluffs providing glimpses of the Ohio River and fields of wild flowers.
As the trail descends, the trail leads to one of the most beautiful features in the park.
After crossing over the bridge, the trail descends down the bluffs to the follow along the river.
Overall, I loved this park. I think that it is overshadowed by Clifty Falls State Park, but it is so beautiful.
Update September 2021: We stopped at Charlestown State Park again since the Rose Island trail was not yet completed when we visited the first time. In the early 1920’s this amusement park welcomed visitors from all over. The island had a hotel, wooden roller coaster, a Ferris wheel and a skating rink.
A very steep Trail 3 leads down to the restored Portersville Bridge which spans Fourteenmile Creek.
Once on the other side, Trail 7 circles the island. I loved all of the informational signs that dotted the trail recalling the history of this once thriving place.
Today, all that remains are old foundations including the swimming pool and the iconic stone pillars that once welcomed visitors to the island. I loved how there was a comparison picture.
Rose Island ultimately around 1937 due to damage caused by a flood. I loved visiting this place and loved the Indiana State Parks kept the history alive. I found it fun to think back to how things used to be.
Be sure to check this state park out!