About the Park
Clifty Falls State Park is located on the west side of Madison, Indiana. The park may be entered from the north or south.
The park’s name comes from the waterfalls found on Big Cifty Creek and its tributaries. Clifty Falls State Park has natural and cultural history, a landscape, and trails that make their way through it all. The hiking over its 10 trails is good year-round, but many trails are rugged.
The canyon is certainly most revealing during winter and early spring before leaves bring your attention to the ecology and geology closer at hand. During those seasons you can see across and down the canyon.
Water and Geology
Red = park boundary, blue = creeks, black is boundary of Big Clifty Creek watershed (north is up). All the rainwater that falls onto that area heads to to the park - with all it carries. Note that area of the watershed on the east side is by far the largest (explained in the "Water and Geology" section.
The ecosystem that developed in what is now the park, is composed of various pieces. Three types of upland forests are found (dry upland, dry-mesic upland, mesic upland) reflecting differences in moisture and slope. A chestnut-oak forest occurs in the dry upland, a white, red, and black oak forest in the dry-mesic upland, and mostly oak to maple-beech-red-oak-basswood in the mesic upland. There are some areas of “barren conditions” along the canyon rim. There, grasses predominate.
Culture and Other Artifacts
CCC-era pump house along the upper end of Big Clifty Creek, seen from Trail 8.
Artifacts from the Archaic and Woodland periods have been identified at the park.
entrance to Trail 9 from campground
above Hoffman Falls
down in the canyon on trail 2