Camping: Mounds State Park

Father’s Day weekend is always a perfect time for a camping adventure.  Okay who am I kidding, EVERY weekend is perfect for an adventure!  We decided to try somewhere new to us, and with our interest and immense respect for Native American history, Mounds (near Anderson, IN) was an easy choice.  The park features 10 earth works from the mound building cultures of the Adena-Hopewell Indians, including the largest in the state.

We booked this trip last minute, and got the last remaining site in the campground.  Though we generally prefer wooded sites, this one only had a single tree, but was an extremely large site, giving our husky Akira plenty of room for her tie out, plus one of our favorite camping games, ladder ball.  Also it made for great star gazing at night.

Campsite #41, Mounds State Park
Campsite #41, Mounds State Park

(Click Pics to Enlarge)

I’ll be honest, Mounds is a relatively small park.  In the early 20th century, it was a privately owned park, complete with amusement rides and dance halls, and that’s about the size of it, like a large county park.  The biggest down side today, in my opinion, is the location of the campground.  Unlike most state parks we camp at, you don’t feel like you’re “getting away from it all.”  The Anderson Airport is *maybe* a couple thousand feet away, you can literally sit in the playground and watch small planes take off and land all day.  And then there are the trains.  Paralleling the road that borders the park are the train tracks, and they go all day AND night, blowing their whistle at every intersection.  It was one of the more restless sleeps I’ve gotten in our camper in a long time.  Not enough to ruin our fun, though, just something to adjust to.

Saturday we planned a hike that incorporated trails 4 & 5, encompassing the entire park, for about a 3.5 mile hike.  Most of trail 5 is a wide gravel path, more like a narrow gravel road than a hiking trail.  Not particularly exciting for an avid hiker like myself, but would be awesome for someone who likes to get out and jog.  There are also numerous unmarked foot paths that lead to the White River.

"Boardwalk" down trail 4
“Boardwalk” down trail 4
Creek on trail 4 provided Akira a chance to cool off.
Creek on trail 4 provided Akira a chance to cool off.
Peering inside the Circle Mound
Peering inside the Circle Mound
White River
White River
Marsh on trail 5
Marsh on trail 5 (spot the ducks?)
Mallards in the Marsh
Mallards in the Marsh
The Great Mound, build approx. 160 BC.
The Great Mound, built approx. 160 BC.
Peering inside the Great Mound
Peering inside the Great Mound
Quick stop at the Nature Center
Quick stop at the Nature Center
Back in the creek
Back in the creek
Nature makes it all worth while
Nature makes it all worth while

After an afternoon of hiking and seeing the sights, we stopped in at the camp store for some ice cream, and sat out on the deck watching hummingbirds zoom in and out.

Hummingbird at the Camp Store
Hummingbird at the Camp Store

The remainder of Saturday involved:  Napping, Ladder Ball, cooking over the fire, roasted marshmallows, S’moreos, and simple relaxing around the campfire.

Sunday we slept in a bit, and then Robin and Kaden went to the pool while I finished packing up camp and then went for another short hike with Akira on trail 3.  On our way back, we checked out the park’s “Monarch Waystation” just outside of the pool.  It is a circular garden planted specifically for Monarch butterflies, so I searched the plants for caterpillars, and found one excellent specimen.

Monarch caterpillar
Monarch caterpillar
Not just caterpillars enjoying this garden...
Not just caterpillars enjoying this garden…
List of plants for the Monarch Waystation
List of plants for the Monarch Waystation (click to enlarge)

All in all, a relaxing weekend of camping with the family, it doesn’t get better than that.

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