Sunday, May 18, 2014

McCormick's Creek State Park

This last week, I attended a 4-day training at McCormick's Creek State Park. While I was busy with the conference, I enjoyed getting to know the state park as well! This is the first state park for Indiana. The Canyon Inn was once a sanitarium where wealthy people came to recuperate. People often had picnics near the falls. Hiking the trails, I saw the beauty that is available in the area. The falls are beautiful. The trees are huge. Pileated woodpeckers crossed my path on more than one occasion.

T-shirts, games, books, and bug jars are available in the lobby for sale. There is a nice lounge area, with board games available. 

The history of the area is interpreted through the lobby decor, with fossils lining the walls and telling stories of fish, mastodons, and crinoids. 

The lounge area is a convenient to gather. Our group turned it into a music fest for one of our nights. Participants pulled out harmonicas, drums, guitars, and more unique instruments from their luggage for several hours of song. Spoons became part of the mix as the night wore on. 

The inn has a large gathering room, as well as several other rooms, which make it a good place for a conference. We met regularly in the large hall; however, also used the basement, lounge, and other areas nearby. The large hall went from a utilitarian learning environment with rows of tables to an eloquent banquet hall for the awards ceremony and keynote speaker. 

I found the Canyon Inn a perfect space for our training, though it would also be a nice place to bring our family to as a home base while we explore the park. There is a restaurant onsite. We enjoyed the buffet everyday. There was a wide variety of foods and I was well satisfied. The staff was very friendly and took care of any needs we had. The rooms were neat and tidy. The only issue I found was slow Internet. Since I teach college classes online, I needed to check in on my classes. With all of us there, the Internet was very slow. I was told the system will be upgraded this summer, which will be a great addition. I did ask at the desk and they pointed me in the direction of the McDonald's in town to have faster access. That was very helpful, though it sounds like the Internet will be faster on our return trips.

I took a hike down to the falls, stopping to check out one of the bulletin boards before I started walking. The kiosk shared information about things to be cautious of, regulations of the area, fossils of the area, and upcoming problems. Checking out the kiosks can extend the learning experience and give more information on the place.  The trail is terraced, with some sloped space on the sides. This might work for a stroller, though I'd probably use the back-pack carrier for the toddler. 

Interpretive signs share more information about the canyon. I like to take the time to look at these and learn about the area more. Information is also available on the website. 

At the lookout, there is an interpretive message, explaining the falls. It's easy to listen to while listening to the water rush in the background. What a pretty view! In north central Indiana, we tend to have flat farming land, so I enjoyed the ravines and canyons at McCormick's Creek State Park. As I hit this section of the trail, it also smelled differently, like wet rock and earth. Loved it! 

The exposed rock has its own story to tell. Read about geology in the park here or visit the park's nature center or a program on geology there. 

The park had many options to visit, with well marked trails and services. Maps are readily available. I was surprised how much further along the foliage was compared to how the plants are progressing several hours north. While I could have spent all day exploring the woods, there are other options, such as horse back riding, swimming pools, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, tennis courts, a recreation hall, etc. Lodging accommodations include the Canyon Inn, campgrounds, RV slots, and numerous cabins. Lodging can be reserved for the inn, camping, or cabins

Other trails lead to a cave or sinkhole! I loved how this tree had evolved. There were others riddled with holes as part of the natural decomposition process. While nature continually recycles, McCormick's Creek State Park offers a great place to relax and rejuvenate, to study nature and birds, to check out the falls, and to get back outside! The short distance to Indianapolis makes it a perfect get-a-way, though it can also be a destination place for conferences or families.