The Potholes. If you grew up in west central Indiana, you immediately know what I’m talking about. I didn’t, but my love of nature preserves led me to it. Fall Creek Gorge was taken over by the Nature Conservancy in 1986, but for many years it was a local spot for swimmers, partiers, and nature lovers alike. Due to overuse, the Nature Conservancy severely limited visitation rules to this 37 acre Warren County preserve, located a few miles west of Attica, with a parking lot that only holds maybe 5 cars (no parking allowed roadside). It has the nickname “The Potholes” due to the many circular indentations carved out in the creek bed.
On this visit, the creek was at a very low flow, lucky for me because it makes the potholes and rock formations much more visible. Sadly, the Nature Conservancy has strict rules against swimming/wading, and there simply is no way to fully enjoy and appreciate this preserve without getting your feet wet. In the past, we have actually been followed by a Conservation Officer, making sure we stayed on the trail. There was nobody patrolling the preserve this time, evidenced by several locals already onsite with kids in the water. The Nature Conservancy claims they have rules against swimming/wading in the creek because it once tested for high E. coli bacteria; yet the Indiana DNR site says this creek was given it’s “Highest Quality” water rating. I suspect it has more to do with safety, as in the past there were many people who would get hurt slipping in the potholes or climbing the hillside. Regardless, Kaden and I arrived and walked up a small tributary creek, enjoying the scenery, and returned to the main Fall Creek just as the last locals were leaving, giving us the preserve to ourselves for awhile.
Being the rebels we are, Kaden and I waded out into the creek to the mouth of the gorge. I’m an amateur nature photographer, it’s not my fault! To get the good pics, you gotta find the angle, and that meant being in the creek. We didn’t actually walk into the gorge itself, with all the potholes I’m pretty sure I would have ended up in one (they can be inches deep to a few feet deep) and that wouldn’t have been good on my camera. After getting some pics and splashing around, we got back on trail and hiked to the back of the preserve, where the creek gets it’s name, with a nice waterfall. From there, we hiked down stream into the canyon that leads to the gorge, walked back, and then up creek beyond the falls as well. There is no way to put into words how awesome this tiny nature preserve is, with the 80 foot canyon walls, tree lined rim, and ferns sprawling on the sides. Where there were no potholes, the water was extremely calm and relaxing. We made our way back to where we entered the preserve at, and hiked down stream further than we had ever gone before, where we discovered huge grooves carved into the creek bed, which all lead to another waterfall. This one is more of a water slide, but beautiful no matter what you call it.
This was by far the longest we’ve ever spent in this preserve, mostly because we had it to ourselves and weren’t afraid to wade in the creek and experience it the way it is meant to be experienced, feet fully engulfed in the creek. My apologies to the DNR and Nature Conservancy, but we tread lightly anywhere we go, and my camera lens only reaches so far.
(Click a picture to start slideshow)