Indiana State Parks have a motto, “Treasures In Your Own Backyard.” We took that to heart this week. We live right down the road from the Fairfield Lakes and Wildcat Creek (south fork) public access, and often take them for granted. If you follow my blog, you know we love hiking in creeks, which makes the Wildcat perfect for us when the water is low. That was our destination for this afternoon.
We generally skip the Wildcat public access, as there are often fishermen there, or families splashing in the area. Plus, the creek makes a hard turn just down stream and can get deep (though this is perfect for tubing). So we like to start from the Fairfield Lakes parking lot and take the trail to the creek access path behind the lakes. The lakes are owned by county parks department and patrolled by the DNR, but aren’t true lakes. They are former gravel pits from many years ago, four of them, stocked with bass, crappie, trout, catfish, and bluegill. It is a nice place for families to come for a calm day of fishing.
Once you take the access path to the Wildcat Creek behind the fishing lakes, it’s like entering a hidden world. Thick trees surround the creek, small fish swim right around you, tiny frogs hopping everywhere, dragonflies buzzing, and the occasional sighting of herrons and egrets, among other birds. Deer and raccoon tracks can be seen in the mud and sand along the creek’s edge. The South Fork of the Wildcat Creek is designated as an Indiana Scenic Waterway, one of only three in the state. Most of the creek on this day was ankle to knee deep, with a few pools slightly deeper, and some bottleneck areas where the creek is swift moving. We only hiked down it maybe a half mile and back, but that’s all we needed. Nature is refreshing, even when it’s so close to home.