Backcountry Sights

Photos and stories from the outdoors

An Afternoon at Turkey Run

Now that I’m back in the midwest and classes have resumed, I haven’t taken the time to go explore the outdoors as much. It is difficult for me to convince myself to just leave for a day to go do something. Logically, I know that I easily can – I won’t fall so far behind that I’m unable to complete my school work. Besides, I frequently spend the weekend on domestic tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, etc., not on school work. But after years and years of spending practically all of my free time completing class assignments and studying, it’s difficult to consciously decide to take an entire day off to go do something fun. Anyhow, this struggle is something I’m working on. I’d like to be more intentional with my time instead of schmoozing around the house (and the internet) in between days of work.

This post represents a win in that struggle! I took an entire afternoon off on Columbus Day and went hiking in Turkey Run State Park. I’ve lived in Indiana for nearly 12 years but have never been to this popular hiking spot. After seeing several friends and family members venture there, I decided I had better go check it out.

Turkey Run State Park

View on Map

The park is about an hour-long drive from where I live, so it isn’t terribly far. I arrived at 3:00 or so and wasted no time putting on my hiking shoes and heading off on a trail. The nature center and parking lot are separated from many of the hiking trails by Sugar Creek. Don’t let the “creek” title deceive you – you won’t be crossing on foot. Instead, a suspension bridge spans the water!

Turkey Run Suspension Bridge

River Crossing – To get to most of the hiking trails and neat slot canyons in Turkey Run State Park, one must cross this suspension bridge.

The first canyon I encounter is called “Rocky Hollow,” and it’s pretty incredible! The air is cool and humid; moss and ferns abound on the sandstone walls and the forest towers above the canyon, letting only a little bit of light filter through to the canyon floor. A small creek runs through the canyon; the trail crosses the creek many times and sometimes just coincides with the small waterway. Hiking shoes or boots are a good idea for this kind of hike since they are relatively water and mud resistant.

turkey run canyon trees

Trees stretch to the sky above the canyon

As I hike further up the canyon, I reach an area reminiscent of the red sandstone canyons of Southern Utah – the walls are smooth and grooved, a clear indicator of water erosion. The floor is also smooth and made slick by the flowing water. A little clambering is required to traverse this section without slipping.

There are several other canyons nearby; one is too steep for a conventional trail and includes several ladders. The dim, damp canyons have a sort of prehistoric ambiance; this would be a good place for a dinosaur movie!

Ladders down into Bear Hollow, Turkey Run State Park

Ladders down into Bear Hollow, Turkey Run State Park

I spent several more hours exploring other canyons, but there is still plenty more I’d like to see at Turkey Run and I’m sure I will return in the near future.

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