(Continued from Turkey Run Rehab, Day 1)
The Easter Bunny managed to find our camp site, and was smart enough to hide eggs in the ravine right behind our camper, just out of reach of Akira. Kaden searched out the goodies while Robin and I drank our morning coffee and got prepared for the day. Fortunately, Sunday check out times in Indiana State Park campgrounds is 5pm, so no hurry to pack up.
(Click pictures to enlarge)
Knowing we did have to pack up at some point, we decided to cut a couple miles off of our hike for the day by driving over to the park’s main parking lot and heading out straight from the nature center. We wanted a hike that was big on features, but easy on the legs, as they were still kind of jello after our first big hike of the season the day before. Here’s our path for the day:
With backpacks on, we set out on Trail 2 heading east. Right away we enter Box Canyon, much to the squirrels chagrin, chattering as we invaded their territory.
Possibly the coolest feature on Trail 2 is a man made staircase through stone, likely carved out by the Civilian Conservation Corp many years ago…
Trail 2 mostly follows a ridge well above creek level, but shadowed by huge sandstone cliffs. We weaved in and out of giant boulders that have broken free from the cliffs above.
One of the most picturesque areas along Trail 2 is Gypsy Gulch. Boulders every where, plus a small creek that tumbles down from above so high that it’s practically just a mist by the time it wets the trail.
Around the corner from Gypsy Gulch, you see huge boulders down below beside Trail 1 and on the edge of Sugar Creek. These boulders were once part of the cliff side. This is Goose Rock.
About this time, a large bird swooped down through the trees and took perch on a nearby tree. Near as I can tell, it is a Red Tailed Hawk. It sat for quite awhile, watching the forest floor, and even giving us the occasional look.
From here, the trail leveled out and was just a nice stroll through the woods. Eventually Trail 2 comes up to the Lusk Earth Fill, a feature from before park days. The Lusk family owned this land, and at one time the state planned on building a road through this spot, so they had Lusk fill in this ravine for the road bed. The state ended up changing their route, and st. rd. 47 is now just south of the park. But the “bridge” of land is still there, and it formed a pond on the east side of the earth fill. The pond is full of frogs and turtles, but no fish. It’s a bit of a frog sanctuary.
We were in luck too, as a single Painted Turtle was out basking on a log…
We walked the short distance from the pond to the Narrows Covered Bridge. The bridge spans a narrow part of Sugar Creek that is technically a flooded canyon, more than 30 feet deep. Here’s a view from inside the covered bridge, looking west on Sugar Creek:
And down stream from the bridge:
We hiked a short way down Trail 4 and found a spot to rest and grab a quick lunch.
Trail 4 from here is a leisurely stroll through the woods, with the occasional cliff to the right and creek to the left, and early spring wildflowers popping up. We reached the trail junction between 4 and 8, and this is where we find the Coal Mine. It was a personal coal mine for the Lusk family and then the state park, but was closed up several decades ago. Though the entrance is blocked from humans, the gate allows bats to freely fly through.
We climbed the hill from here and made our way back to the main area of the park, spotting the suspension bridge as we came back down the hill. It was a day well spent at a much more leisurely pace than the day before. While our camping and hiking fever has been satisfied after a long winter, we can’t wait until our next adventure.