Tag Archives: State Park

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GONE CAMPING

O’Bannon Woods State Park

7234 Old Forest Road SW, Corydon

Why We Love It: Just outside of Corydon, O’Bannon is our current go-to. Campsites are shaded and never overcrowded, and there’s a connected horse campground. There are plenty of hiking and mountain biking trails as well as a rustic pioneer village with a still-functional hay press that, on certain days, is powered by the park’s two resident oxen. The nature center houses lots of live reptiles and amphibians, and often a park ranger will allow folks to meet a snake or two. The park is also home to a fantastic pool and splash park with two huge water slides and a separate toddler pool. Pool admission is just a few dollars and the attendant is happy to stamp your hand so that you can come in and out throughout the day.


Spring Mill State Park

3333 State Road 60 E, Mitchell

Why We Love It: The campground at Spring Mill offers a variety of sites, from sunny and grassy to completely wooded, with an area of its own for primitive camping. Just outside the campground is an Olympic-sized swimming pool with a diving area. This park is one of our favorite places to hike and explore; we love the trails, the caves and the creeks. There’s a beautiful stone inn with a restaurant, a nature center and, near the front of the park, a memorial to astronaut Gus Grissom with space capsule on display. But our favorite part about visiting this park is certainly the pioneer village. It’s big, picturesque and fascinating to tour, complete with working grist mill, saw mill and pioneer museum.


Charlestown State Park

12500 IN-62, Charlestown

Why We Love It: Charlestown offers a sufficient campground and good trails for hiking, some with great views of the river. We always enjoy hiking down to the entrance to Rose Island, the site of the old, abandoned amusement park. But what we like best about camping in Charlestown is the proximity to our home in Henryville. Let’s say we have a fairly open weekend but an important local commitment on Saturday afternoon. The location allows us to fit in both.

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Get Out This Spring

1By Farrah Alexander

As a Southern Indiana local,

you know describing this area as “the sunny side”

is little more than a cute tourism slogan.

If it’s sunny, you better get out and take

advantage because the next day very

well could be rainy, frigid, swampy hot

or just so intensely pollinated you

can’t bear to go outside. Sometimes, we

manage to fit in elements of all four

seasons in the course of one week, much

to the dismay (or delight?) of local

weather forecasters.

2

But during the spring, the sunny days are truly

beautiful. The lilies and tulips have bloomed,

leaving bursts of color everywhere you turn. The

weather is pristine – not too hot and not too cool

– just the perfect temperature to relax outside.

And we have plenty of wonderful options to

explore the area as a family. So, grab your nasal

spray and let’s go!

3

The Falls of the Ohio State Park (201 W.

Riverside Drive, Clarksville) is a fantastic place

to spend a nice day. My five-year-old Daniel is

obsessed with dinosaurs, so he loves climbing

over the huge rocks and discovering fossils among

the fossil beds. The park hosts many events with

experts who will guide you through the park and

educate you about things you probably wouldn’t

have noticed. After exploring the park, you can see

several exhibits in the air-conditioned interpretive

center. There are many perfect places to enjoy a

picnic overlooking the Ohio river nearby.

The Widow’s Walk (415 E. Riverside Drive,

Clarksville) is a beautiful Victorian mansion along

the Ohio River overlooking the Louisville skyline.

The Widow’s Walk has an ice creamery, coffee

shop and offers bicycle rentals. You can enjoy

your treats on the gorgeous porch overlooking

the river or explore the beautiful courtyards on

site. They also offer very reasonably priced kidfriendly

lunch items like corn dogs and chicken

nuggets. The bicycle rentals include tandem bikes

and bikes with child carriers attached. The Ohio

River Scenic Byway is right next to the Widow’s

Walk and is a great area to ride.

The Big Four Bridge in Jeffersonville is a

renovated railroad bridge that is open exclusively

to pedestrians. It’s the perfect length for a nice

family stroll with breaks to view the Ohio River,

spotting barges and steamboats. Once you reach

the Kentucky side, the kids can play at one of the

many nearby playgrounds. If you head back to

the Indiana side, there is a plethora of wonderful

restaurants within a short walking distance of

the bridge.

Perrin Family Park (Perrin Lane,

Jeffersonville) is a privately-owned park that is

well maintained and perfect for a family with

young children to explore. A paved walking path

surrounds a lake and is the ideal distance (just one

mile) for a leisurely walk that young children can

handle. At the dock, children can feed the ducks

and geese. There are plenty of picnic tables to enjoy

lunch shaded by the many surrounding trees.

The Farmer’s Market (202 E. Market St.,

New Albany) is open Saturday mornings from

10 a.m. until noon, until the second weekend in

May through October, the hours are extended to

8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The farmer’s market has tons

of unique items and tasty food you can’t just find

at your nearby grocer. They have local butchers,

hand crafted items, seasonal veggies, baked goods,

jams, and more. Located in the city center, you’re

in the perfect location to grab brunch at one of

the many delicious spots nearby.

Clifty Falls State Park (1501 Green Road,

Madison) is a beautiful, scenic park with gorgeous

waterfalls. The park has many hiking and walking

trails, some are easily accessible for small children

and some are better suited for experienced hikers.

Since the park is so large, you can easily find

a peaceful and quiet place to have a picnic or

just enjoy nature. There are campgrounds and

inns nearby if you’d prefer to stay overnight and

thoroughly experience the park.

The Historic District (Madison) along the

First, Second and Third Streets downtown contain

many of the town’s restored homes of the pre-

Civil War era. The area is simply charming and a

really lovely place to stroll and site-see. You can

pop in an antique shop, burger joint, boutique,

or just admire the historical buildings. Just a few

blocks away, you can walk along the banks of

the Ohio River.

Deam Lake State Recreation Area (1217

Deam Lake Road, Borden) is a spacious, wooded

park with many activities. The park offers fishing,

boating, and swimming. If you’re looking to spend

the night or weekend, there are campgrounds

available. There are many hiking trails of varying

difficulty levels available. Whether you’re making a

weekend of it or just spending the day, Deam Lake

is a great escape into nature not far from home.


If it’s sunny, you

better get out

and take advantage

because the next

day very well

could be rainy,

frigid, swampy hot…


Hidden Hill (1011 Utica Charlestown Road,

Jeffersonville) is a beautiful, sprawling botanical

garden featuring unique art sculptures owned by

local gardening guru Bob Hill. It’s a whimsical

place to walk around, explore and children will

love spotting the variety of flowers and looking for

monarch butterflies. Plus, the gardens provide an

incredible backdrop for photos of your kids! My

sister-in-law and photographer Valerie Johnson

loves going to Hidden Hill to take stunning photos

of my niece, Piper.

After so many days and weekends spent cooped

up in the house during the long winter, It’s such

a treat to get outside, expose yourself to some

fresh air and enjoy one of the many scenic areas

we have to enjoy both nature and time with your family.

JD Dotson

Charlestown

Story and photos by JD Dotson

Once again, I am completely in awe of a place I thought I knew, only to be pleasantly surprised at every turn.  Charlestown quietly sits in Eastern Clark County and not knowing where I was going, I stopped in the first interesting place I came upon to ask questions and poke around. (By the way: Don’t forget to check out Charlestown during the Christmas season, beginning with Light Up Charlestown on the Friday after Thanksgiving.)

rocks bird

The CHARLESTOWN FEED STORE 

11106 Dean St. | On Highway 62 Near Highway 3 | 812.256.2048 | charlestownfeedstore.com

Sitting outside the Charlestown Feed Store was an old giant wagon, shining with color, with row upon row of raw West Virginia glass. I took it as a sign to see what other things – beside feed – I could find at the feed store. I met a beautiful parrot named Goldie, saw the largest collection of vintage coolers and got some good information and stories from Luke, who works at the store. I heard the legend of the haunted Seven Penny Bridge, (or Ten Penny Bridge, if you search online) and got directions to the Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve. Still, I was sure I had more pennies in the floorboard of my car, and I headed out to explore Charlestown.

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CHARLESTOWN STATE PARK 

12500 Indiana 62 | 812.256.5600 | www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/2986.htm | $7 entry fee

Charlestown State Park sits just off Hwy 62 on 5,100 acres of land formerly belonging to the Indiana Army Ammunition Plant, and on the banks of the Ohio River. The park boasts several marked trails rated moderate to rugged and ruins of ammunition plants in the hills.  I began my adventure at the Riverside Overlook and trail No. 6 which immediately had me running up a steep, rocky ascent. Once I cleared the climb, my run had me along the ridge of the woods with a steep drop-off and the most spectacular view in the park of the river. It was at once both terrifying and beautiful, quiet on the path and breathtaking. I kept the course which wound me back down to creek beds and back up. I was easily distracted by bits of a ruin which took me off trail and off course, just a bit lost but reveling in the adventure of trying to reconnect with my path. Eventually, I found my way back to my car and to my map to Rose Island. I have heard of Rose Island since my childhood. My Granny lived down the road, worked in the ammunition plant and told of picnics at the popular amusement park. In the 1920s, the park, only accessible by steamboat, ferry or a suspension bridge, boasted a small zoo, a pool, shooting gallery, dance hall, cafeteria, ferris wheel and roller coaster and hotel. The Depression closed the park temporarily and the flood of 1937 destroyed the park entirely. These days a short hike down the steep, paved hill and crossing over the Porterville Bridge will drop you at the entrance of Rose Island. There are a lot of really remarkable ruins and historic markers guiding you along the paths with photographs of what once belonged here. A bit of imagination helped to fill in the river banks with thousands of people bustling around the peninsula on a beautiful day. I explored Rose Island quite a bit, knowing I was stalling the run back to my car. At the end of this trip, I will have run 10 miles and the last leg was up another steep incline. As a reward, I asked some fellow explorers a bit of advice on what food I should stuff in my face.

otharocks distantclearing

NINE PENNY BRANCH STATE NATURE PRESERVE 

3143, 3019 Tunnel Mill Rd

The back roads of Charlestown are peaceful, curvy and perfect for a gorgeous Saturday drive. I wound my way down Tunnel Mill Road and took in the sights, the hills and woods, farms and fields. The Nine Penny Branch Nature Preserve sits just off the road with a small parking lot and a path leading you away. A quarter of a mile in and you are really alone and seemingly far from civilization. The path curves and slopes down, winding back and forth between trees and vines. I came to a rough-hewn rock bench high above a creek below and spared a few minutes to sit and enjoy the solitude. Eventually, I made my way down the path across a bridge and eventually into the creek bed. It was an easy mile in and a rough run back uphill to get out.

pizza

THE CHARLESTOWN PIZZA COMPANY

850 Main St. 812.256.2699 | www.ctownpizzaco.com

I met a trio in the ruins and immediately the Charlestown Pizza Company sprang out as the best pizza in the area. As if I need any more of an excuse to visit a good pizza place, the next bit of advice had me hooked instantly.: “You have to get the Mashed Potato Pie,” said Morgan Cooke, and I thanked her for ruining my diet because I was certain that is exactly what I was going to get. I ran extra hard off the paved path through the woods, pushing myself thinking about all those calories I was about to ingest. The restaurant sits off the square in the heart of Charlestown. The menu description is as follows: “The Mashed Potato Pie: sauced with garlic butter, then a hearty layer of mashed potato, bacon and cheddar cheese and finished with diced green onions. Served with your choice of one sauce on the side.” It is a perfect amalgamation of pizza and baked potatoes, and fell right out of comfort food heaven and into my belly.