Turkey Run State Park is about 50 miles west of Indianapolis. It wraps around Sugar Creek, which is popular for swimming and kayaking. The park also contains some historic buildings and a covered bridge from the nineteenth century. We went because it has several interesting hikes in the rocky post-glacial terrain.
Most of the park’s hikes start by crossing the creek. This is easily achieved on a sturdy, but still moving, suspension bridge. Before you get to the bridge, you must descend stairs (they say there are 70) to enter the creek valley. As we were coming down, a squad of marine trainees came up, complete with a flag bearer and a sergeant shouting at the slower recruits. The recruits were muddy and they looked tired. We soon found out why.
The park trail map has ratings from “easy” to “very rugged”, with trails 3 and 9 falling in the last category. We did both of these, plus bits of the moderate trail 5. Loops are possible because the trails cross each other in several places, and there are places where higher trails overlook the ones in canyons or rocky stream beds. It had rained a lot in the days before our hike, so streams were full and the muddy spots were gooier than usual. Everything was dark brown.
It’s really hard to recommend ideal footwear, but you want something that will stay on and has a good tread. Washable or disposable is good. I saw some people in flip-flops, and they were struggling in spots.
The “very rugged” trails lived up to their description. Although we only did about four miles total, it took nearly four hours. The most difficult parts were made slower by having to take turns with people coming in the opposite direction in narrow passages, and by those who had to consider their strategies carefully. We saw hikers of all ages, mostly with a “this is crazy but I’m enjoying it” expression.
Signs in the park say that the rock formations are typical of areas formerly covered by glaciers, although usually in more northerly latitudes. We drove there from Lake Michigan, and it definitely feels surprising compared to the landscapes encountered along the way. Recommended.