The Urbanophile’s guest post on Recreational Hinterlands has inspired me to take a bit of a detour from my usual posts on urban structures and transit . This post reminded me that I had not spent much time in the woods this year. And, as usual, one place in particular calls my name: Shades State Park.
Shades is unique for many reasons. It is barely an hour from Indianapolis, yet you can walk on trail after trail in almost complete solitude. There are many different trails through the narrow ravines, so that you can descend towards Sugar Creek in one valley, and ascend back to the park entrance in an adjacent valley. And then you could do that again, and again. Along the way you can see a rare convex waterfall, climb multiple ladders, and descend into Devil’s Punchbowl to be surrounded by rocks on all sides.
Across the road from the main park entrance is Pine Valley Nature Preserve. This is the true unsung pleasure of Shades. A long walk culminates in a climb up a ridge known as Devil’s Backbone. It is about 100 feet above Sugar Creek, and about 6 feet wide at the top. The name for Pine Hills is derived from the pines that cling to the northern slope of the hills, and are a relic from the Ice Age. Amazingly, this portion of the park is free to enter. Just a bit to the north of the entrance is an historic covered bridge. Did I mention this park has a ton of neat surprises?
I’m usually hesitant to talk about this place. However, unless they add electric campgrounds or a hotel, I’m confident it will still be a fine place of peace and quiet, just a short drive away.