Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Positively Turkey Run

by Mauverneen



National Parks are indeed a treasure. But we may not always be within a short drive of one. State Parks, on the other hand, are more plentiful, often found within shorter distances and can provide a satisfying alternative for a decent ‘nature fix’. A recent invitation to join a group of friends for a weekend at Turkey Run State Park in Indiana was just the ticket.


Richard Lieber and Juliet Strauss were very instrumental in creating Turkey Run
As many state parks do, Turkey Run offers a variety of lodging options. They have an inn, cabins, and camping. My friend and I opted for a cabin. Part of a four-plex it was small but adequate, with a clean bathroom. We were quite comfortable and exercised our option of lunching al fresco from the contents of our cooler which would not have been anywhere near as enjoyable in a hotel room - or even possible.  

We hiked, went canoeing, located some covered bridges, and ended our weekend with a morning horseback ride through the woods. Just what I needed!
Covered bridges: The Narrows, Billie Creek, Jackson Bridges 

 
Hiking trails in the park range from easy to very rugged. A couple of the trails lead you down into canyons and gorges, following a creek bed. No problem this time of year, with very little water running through, but I’m not sure I would want to tackle it when water levels are high. Some of the views are stunning! Like a fairyland, sunlight filters through incredibly tall trees and soft, green moss covers fallen trees and rocks. Blasts of cool air feel refreshing and are quite noticeable in certain areas. There is even an old coal mine alongside one of the trails. Other paths traverse gullies and hills, often running parallel to the main waterway – Sugar Creek.
 


Following the trail

 
Love the moss


See the face? I swear it was not visible to the naked eye! Makes me feel like the original dwellers of this area still inhabit the forest to watch over it.



Bare roots on this rock
 
There can be some traffic jams on the weekends!


 



There are several nearby rental options for canoeing, kayaking, or tubing down the Sugar Creek, passing underneath some of the county’s famous covered bridges. The views of the bridges from the water were better than most of the vantage points available from the roadsides.
 
 
One of the group hikes was a night hike. A full moon, a naturalist guide, and heavy woods promised a bit of adventure. Alas, with 20 or 30 people not everyone could be quiet so the only wildlife we saw were spiders – and there were plenty of those. We did learn how to hunt spiders in the dark. Hold a small flashlight at nose or eye level and shine it around into the foliage. All those little glowing spots? Spider eyes looking back at you! Try it – it really is true. It will either creep you out or fascinate you - probably depending on how afraid of spiders you are. 

 

A couple of small towns are within a drive of under 30 minutes. We made a foray into Rockville, checking out antique stores, restaurants, and a wine tasting at The Drunk Tank, located in the basement of the old jail. Trina, our barkeep, made it a fun and worthwhile visit.  We tasted a lot of wine and got to keep our wine glass, making it well worth the $5 tasting fee.

 

The only thing that was a bit of a disappointment was the food at the Inn’s dining room. While it was adequate, don’t expect gourmet dining. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered - either buffet style or from the menu. And if you’d like a beer or a glass of wine with dinner, you’d best go into town. No alcohol is served at the Inn.

 

But if it’s nature and some outdoor fun you want, this is definitely the place. For  more info, visit their website  http://www.turkeyrunstatepark.com/

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