Tag Archives: Indianapolis

Eagle Creek Park – An Indy Adventure

It was the last week of March, the weather had been up and down, but Catfish was on spring break so I took a day off to get him out of the house and out into nature. As luck would have it, it was a clear day and temps climbed to 60.  We decided to go somewhere we’ve never gone before, but that’s a tough decision since we’ve hiked most places within a 2 hour drive from home.  We decided to check out a place we’ve driven by many times, Eagle Creek Park on the northwest corner of Indianapolis.

Eagle Creek Park is located right off of I-65 and is only about a 45 minute drive, so why we’ve never gone before might seem confusing. It is considered a municipal park, and when I hear that, I think “city park” and tend to overlook it.  But this is more on the level of NYC’s Central Park, with woods, ponds, a reservoir, and miles of trails.  Covering more than 5000 acres, it is actually larger than some state parks.

Trail Map
We took the Red Trail

There is a $6 entry fee, as this park fully funds itself, no tax money supports it. We parked down at the Earth Discovery Center (same parking lot as Go Ape climbing adventure) and set off from there on the Red Trail, listed as 6.75 miles and the longest single trail in the park.  You can really design your own adventure, as there are many trails here and they are all connected.  We went north on the trail, which hugs the lake side for a good 3 miles.  The highlight is the section of trail that literally goes out into the lake; on one side is the reservoir, and the other side is the bird sanctuary.  The trail is barely above lake level, and is just so peaceful to hike on.  We watched ducks swimming on the lake, and the constant honking of geese, along with a few small birds such as chickadees, finches, sparrows, cardinals, downy woodpeckers, swifts, etc.  We did the small loop at the north end of the park, where we got to view several small butterfly species.  Spring flowers were just popping up, including bluebells.

We made our way back around to the east side of the park, where the Red Trail meets up with the Fitness Trail.  Of course we couldn’t resist trying out some of the workout equipment, but not too much because by this time we had hiked 4+ miles and were getting hungry for lunch.  Eventually we made it back to the Lilly reflecting ponds where we picniced whiled watching the geese and sunbathing painted turtles.  Afterward, we went to the Ornithology Center but it was closed.  We still got to see their caged birds, including very up close with a turkey vulture.  Catfish thought it was “cute”!  We also viewed some of the birds and nesting geese through telescopes out in the sanctuary on the lake.

We continued on the Red Trail around Lilly Lake, although admittedly we did get off trail a couple of times when we…okay I…made the wrong turn, mistaking the Orange Trail signs for the Red Trail signs.  Oops!  But really the only downside was wading through all the mud, as some of the trails had standing water.  We made it around the the south end of the park and back to the Earth Discovery Center, for about an eight mile hike total.

Eagle Creek Park definitely has more to it than I would have imagined, and am very glad we finally checked it out.  Perhaps a return trip is due, once the beach opens for swimming and perhaps even some kayaking.

Eagle Creek Park website

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No Spring? To the Museum We Go.

Still waiting for the Indiana winter to release it’s grip, it’s been a cold spring break for my son.  But hey, last year during his spring break, we received the biggest snow fall of the year, so it could be worse.  Needing to find things to do inside (that don’t involve vegging in front of the tv or video games), we hit the road to Indianapolis for the “world’s largest” Children’s Museum.  It’s been two or three years since we’ve been, which is a huge amount of time for a 9 year old.

Transformers at the Museum
Transformers at the Museum

After getting our tickets for entry, and then going to the lower level to get more tickets for specific shows throughout the day, we headed to what I knew would be our main focus of the day…Dinosphere.  Kaden is a dinosaur aficionado.  He sat through two separate paleontologist presentations, one of which he had his hand up for every question or volunteer opportunity.

Reenactment of Mary Anning, the first female paleontologist.
Reenactment of Mary Anning, the first female paleontologist.

Naturally, we spent plenty of time at each exhibit, including the world’s only known mummified dinosaur, Leonardo the duckbill.

Gorgosaurus skull
Gorgosaurus skull
Inside the Dinosphere
Inside the Dinosphere
Inside the Dinosphere
Inside the Dinosphere
Leonardo the mummified duckbill dinosaur
Leonardo the mummified duckbill dinosaur
Mummified duckbill head
Mummified duckbill head
SuperCroc
SuperCroc
Inside the Dinosphere
Inside the Dinosphere
Inside the Dinosphere
Inside the Dinosphere

Probably the highlight of our visit to the Dinosphere was when Kaden got to talk to the paleontologists inside the Dino Lab.  He mentioned to them that he would love to go on one of their museum sponsored trips to a dig site in South Dakota sometime, and said he wants to discover a new breed of dinosaur.  He asked them if he discovered a dinosaur with a single horn, could he call it a “unisaur” (combing unicorn and dinosaur).  They loved the idea!  Before you know it, it spread across the lab, and they told him if he discovered it, he could name it whatever he wanted to.  Huge smiles.

Another cool little thing the museum had was a live action dinosaur presentation, with Bucky the juvenile T-rex.  Kaden got into it.

Bucky the teenage T-rex
Bucky the teenage T-rex

Video of Bucky can be found here:

We spent some time visiting other exhibits and watching a movie about the race to the Moon in the Planetarium, but nothing compared to watching my son’s face in the world of dinosaurs.

All smiles with a Dracorex
All smiles with a Dracorex