Hiking Shades State Park 3/22/18 ✶✶✶✶✶

Given the impending start of farm season and the imminent decline of free time, I thought it crucial that Chrissy and I got out to Indiana–yes, Indiana–for a good hiking getaway. We drove 3-3.5 hours to an airbnb outside of Crawfordsville, Indiana, for a chance to hike at Shades and Turkey Run State Parks. Before this trip, I think I’d be hesitant to drive that long for a weekend (Fri-Sun), but my mind is changed, and I am thankful for having it changed. We got, for late March in the midwest, pretty good weather–high 40’s and sunny each day! I think Chrissy was skeptical as we wound through the rolling hills of west-central Indiana, but by the end of the trip, she was less hesitant to proclaim the trip 5 out of 5 stars. I am slated to agree with that assessment–a longer trip here would be worth a much longer drive.

At Shades, on the first day, our hiking took on three manifestations. We hiked trail two, a 1.25 mile loop that leads out to a creekside bluff overlooking Sugar Creek, the commmon thread that enjoins these two state parks. From the bluff, a nice wooden staircase drops you quickly to Steamboat Rock, at the foot of the Pearl Ravine. The ravine, a beautiful and semi-rugged hike, takes you up and past a small waterfall before climbing back up to the first creekside bluff.

 

After trail 2, we drove up to a different lot and took trails 4 and 5 together, hiking the two loops that go through Frintz and Kintz Ravines back-to-back, but not before we ate lunch in the sun at a picnic table–Spring really is coming!

It was on these 1.4 miles or so of trails that we saw, just a couple hundred feet from the parking lot, a pileated woodpecker for the first time (no picture, sorry!), and just a little later, we found some of the first flowers of the season and some really nice stands of ramps!

Finally, our last trails for the day was a 1.6 or 1.7 mile figure 8 between trails 7 and 8, winding through Kickapoo and Shawnee Canyons, with a beautiful section taking us out onto a gravelly bar on Sugar Creek, for us to consider how nice the day was…..but it was time to get onto Crawfordsville, we were huuuuungry after the 5 or so miles we hiked! I would love to hike up to Pine Hills Nature Preserve next time I’m around, kayaking Sugar Creek is definitely on my list, but we saw the vast majority of this park today which was awesome. I LOVED how clear the trail markers are, and all of the interesting names were a nice touch too.

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