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Hemlock Cliffs

About Hemlock Cliffs

Located in the Hoosier National Forest, Hemlock Cliffs is a unique little box canyon that has a very diverse plant ecosystem. Mountain laurel, several varieties of fern, evergreen, hemlock and wild flower are all thriving in this cool damp environment. Also common to the area are frogs, deer, squirrel, mice and a variety of birds. Limestone cliffs rise some 200 feet above the canyon with two waterfalls, "Messmore Cliffs Falls" and "Hemlock Cliffs Falls" at each end. The Hemlock Cliff Loop trail descends into the canyon and covers about 2.0 miles. Camping is permitted 300 ft. from the trail.


Hemlock Loop Trail

The 2 mile loop trail begins at Hemlock Cliffs parking area. The trail is marked with a white diamond. You can go either way on this loop trail, but the falls are closest to the eastern (right) end of the parking lot. The following description starts from the eastern trail head.

0.16 From the parking lot follow the trail to a fork in the trail. The spur to the right goes to the top of Hemlock Cliffs Falls. Continue left down a set a of stairs to a beautiful view of the falls and rock overhang. Spur trails lead down to the falls plunge pool.

0.17 Directly across from the falls is another canyon finger whose creek merges with Hemlock Cliffs creek. Follow the creek up to some large bolders. A trial to the left leads up and around the boulders. A small cave, just large enough for two people can be found in the rock face.

0.18 Continue down more steps with a hand rail and cross a foot bridge.

0.26 The trail begins to move away from the creek and slightly ascending.

0.27 Trail merges with spur that leads up to the parking lot. This is not part of the official trail and is causing significant erosion.

0.30 There are a few spur trails leading off in different directions, follow the white diamond trail marker.

0.52 Trail junctions with Messmore Cliffs trail at the high cliff warning sign. Going right will lead you below the 70 foot fall. Going straight leads you to the top where there is a nice 2 tent campsite that overlooks the loop trail. Directly above and behind the falls (across the power line field) is a large campsite area suitable for 4 or 5 tents. The falls can be disappointing during dry weather, but the rock house is impressive. It is about 300 feet across and 25 feet deep.

0.50 Continue left on Hemlock Loop trail. The trail follows the creek about half a mile before crossing over and returning toward the parking area.

1.10 The moderate climb passes a small pond on the left. If your quite you can sneak up on the frogs.

1.20 Trail levels out and returns to the parking area.


  • No water, toilets, or trash receptacles.

  • Motorized vehicles are prohibited, except on designated roadways.

  • Foot traffic is restricted from some areas for resource protection.

  • Camping and campfires are prohibited in rock shelters.

  • Rapelling is prohibited in designated areas for resource protection.

Indiana Contacts

US Forest Service
Tell City Ranger District

248 15th Street
Tell City, IN 47586
Phone: 812-547-7051

More links to Hemlock Cliffs


Getting There

From I-64 take the IN 237 exit north about 2 miles. The road climbs a steep grade, just before it begins to level off, you are looking for Union Chapel road on the left. Be careful, you may miss this the first time. Turn left at Union Chapel and follow the road to the first intersection, continue left. At the next intersection, continue right. At the "T" in the road, continue on Hatfield road to the right. Look for the Hoosier National Forest sign. Park at the gravel picnic area lot..

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