Lower Cataract Falls

Indianapolis / Cloverdale, Indiana, USA

About Lower Cataract Falls

Hiking Distance: 1/4-mile round trip (to base)
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2015-10-05
Date last visited: 2015-10-05

Waterfall Latitude: 39.44243
Waterfall Longitude: -86.8194

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Lower Cataract Falls was the other of two waterfalls on Mill Creek in the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area.

In a way, this 18ft waterfall almost looked like a twin of the nearby Upper Cataract Falls further upstream.

Lower_Cataract_Falls_017_10052015 - Lower Cataract Falls
Lower Cataract Falls

However, the one key difference was that the Lower Falls seemed to exhibit a more classic concave shape (more typical of horseshoe-shaped waterfalls under high volume).

Conversely, the Upper Falls kind of fanned out in two different directions in a more convex shape.

Nonetheless, they were both similar in size and width, and it was quite easy to get the two waterfalls confused just by looking at pictures.

I decided to dedicate a separate write-up to Lower Cataract Falls (instead of combining it with the Upper Falls) mostly because we had to drive to conveniently access this falls (see directions below).

It didn’t seem that trivial to walk from one waterfall to the next given how far apart they were spaced on Mill Creek.

Lower_Cataract_Falls_050_10052015 - Context of the brink of the Lower Cataract Falls
Context of the brink of the Lower Cataract Falls

That said, it really depended on how lazy we wanted to be considering that they were roughly 0.8 miles apart (so call us lazy).

In any case, we were able to get top down views of the Lower Cataract Falls from the edges of the small gorge walls.

And since there were no railings for this waterfall, we were even able to follow the trails of use all the way to the precarious brink of the falls.

While we were up there, we saw one fellow try his hand as fishing from the brink of the falls (despite the signs prohibiting fishing and swimming).

Accessing the Base of Lower Cataract Falls

As for getting down to the gorge for a more frontal view of the Lower Cataract Falls, it was considerably easier to do than the Upper Falls.

Lower_Cataract_Falls_047_10052015 - Looking down at the scrambling path that I took to access the base of the gorge and a more frontal look at the Lower Cataract Falls
Looking down at the scrambling path that I took to access the base of the gorge and a more frontal look at the Lower Cataract Falls

Basically, there was a small muddy path to the left of the viewing area where there were trees and bushes.

The path seemed pretty obvious.

Once I got to the bottom, it was pretty straightforward to scramble further out to where I was able to get a direct view of the Lower Cataract Falls.

Since Mill Creek had pretty low flow during our visit, this scramble was very straightforward.

However, given how muddy it could have been at the bottom (the mud was mostly dry during our visit), I could easily envision how much trickier this scramble would be when the creek would have higher flow (typically in the late Spring and early Summer months).

Lower_Cataract_Falls_043_10052015 - Context of the banks of Mill Creek downstream of the front of Lower Cataract Falls
Context of the banks of Mill Creek downstream of the front of Lower Cataract Falls

Overall, we spent about 25 minutes at this very easy-to-visit waterfall.


Lower Cataract Falls resides in Lieber and Cataract Falls State Recreation Area near Cloverdale in Owen County, Indiana. It is administered by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. For information or inquiries about the area as well as current conditions, visit their website.

Lower_Cataract_Falls_002_10052015 - Looking towards a picnic shelter near the parking lot for the Lower Cataract Falls
Lower_Cataract_Falls_004_10052015 - Contextual look at the Lower Cataract Falls along the short gorge walls
Lower_Cataract_Falls_005_10052015 - Another look at the Lower Cataract Falls from the convenient viewing spots near the partial fences fronting the edges of the gorge walls
Lower_Cataract_Falls_006_10052015 - Looking towards a toilet facility near the Lower Cataract Falls, but Julie said this particular toilet was one of the most disgusting ones that she had ever been in
Lower_Cataract_Falls_008_10052015 - Context of the signage and the Lower Cataract Falls where the sign prohibited swimming and fishing
Lower_Cataract_Falls_024_10052015 - Contextual view towards the gorge walls adjacent to Lower Cataract Falls on the opposite side of Mill Creek
Lower_Cataract_Falls_036_10052015 - Broad view across the span of the Lower Cataract Falls from across its plunge pool
Lower_Cataract_Falls_034_10052015 - More contextual view across the width of the Lower Cataract Falls from the creek bed of Mill Creek
Lower_Cataract_Falls_048_10052015 - When I made it back up to the rim of the gorge, I noticed other people showed up to enjoy the Lower Cataract Falls
Lower_Cataract_Falls_060_10052015 - Looking back from the brink of Lower Cataract Falls towards the context of the general viewing area. Note the folks to the far right side of the photo.  They were the dudes that were fishing in Mill Creek

Lower Cataract Falls shared the same reserve as that of the Upper Cataract Falls.

For driving directions on reaching the Cataract Falls State Recreation Area, see the directions on the Upper Cataract Falls page.

Lower_Cataract_Falls_001_10052015 - The parking area nearby the Lower Cataract Falls
The parking area nearby the Lower Cataract Falls

Once we went beyond the entrance kiosk where there was a $9 non-resident fee during our visit, we then turned left at the signposted fork and drove for the next 0.8 miles to the car park at the dead-end.

For geographical context, Indianapolis, Indiana, was 112 miles (2 hours drive) northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, 176 miles (over 2.5 hours drive) west of Columbus, Ohio, 185 miles (under 3 hours drive) southeast of Chicago, Illinois, 113 miles (2 hours drive) north of Louisville, Kentucky, and 260 miles (under 4 hours drive) east of St Louis, Missouri.

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Movie showing the lower falls from the upper lookout area before finding a way to the bottom to show the falls from near the banks of the river

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Tagged with: indianapolis, cloverdale, indiana, waterfall, owen county, lieber, mill creek, state recreation area

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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