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SUMMER / FALL 2019      © 2021 812 Magazine

STATE PARKS: Lesser-known gems of the state park system

We've told you all about the oldest and largest Indiana parks in the 812 region, but what about all the others? Here are six other parks worth a visit.

lincoln state park, lake lincoln, ranger cabin

If you like our oldest and grandest parks, here are six more to explore.

If you like Spring Mill State Park,visit Lincoln State Park

In the rugged woods of southern Indiana, our 16th president found his roots. And there, some roots remain.

Abraham Lincoln’s sister Sarah is buried in Little Pigeon Cemetery nestled within the Lincoln State Park, beside the Baptist church. According to the Department of Natural Resources, the park was created in dedication to his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, in 1932.

Lincoln is home to 10 miles of hiking trails, Lake Lincoln, and Blue Heron Family Cabins in addition to traditional campsites. In the words of Lincoln himself, “The very spot where grew the bread that formed my bones, I see. How strange, old field, on thee to tread. And feel I’m part of thee.”

If you like Clifty Falls State Park, visit Versailles State Park

Get lost on trails through canopies of trees or discover fossils from an ancient sea. Indiana’s second-largest state park is known for its steep hills, 230-acre lake, and valley creeks.

Before acquired by the state in 1943, the area became one congress’s first RDA projects. Company 596 of the Civilian Conservation Corps went to work building roads, picnic areas, and a campground on the property.

Winding trails are designated for different activities. Trot along more equestrian trails or take the mountain biking trails for a challenge. Looking to go fishing? Follow the trail to Versailles Lake abundant with fish.

From fossils and waterfalls to beavers and valleys, this state park has surprises around every corner.

If you like McCormick's Creek State Park, visit Harmonie State Park

Hike on one of the trails through wooded areas thick with trees and streams and let Harmonie State Park consume you. Known by the DNR as a “trail lover’s paradise,” choose from 20 miles of trails to explore.

Home to two of America’s first utopian communities in the 1800s, the area is rich with history. In 1814 a religious group migrated from Pennsylvania to create a new society. After 10 years, the community was sold to Robert Owen who laid the groundwork for some of our country’s educational ideals.

Take a dip in the pool, camp under the stars or go fishing in the Wabash River. No matter what, the plush scenery and pristine landscape offer visitors an organic wilderness experience.

If you like Clifty Falls State Park, visit Falls of the Ohio State Park

Visualize 200 acres of real fossil beds and oceanic floors giving way to a beautiful fossilized landscape in three dimensions right in front of your eyes.

"Imagine yourself dry snorkeling," paleontologist Alan Goldstein says of the upper fossil beds along the riverbank. Honeycomb coral colonies fill the lower beds underneath the bank, Goldstein says.

Falls of the Ohio resides along the Ohio River in Clarksville, Indiana, where visitors can enjoy acres of fossil beds along hiking trails labeled from easy to rugged. 400 million years ago, a tropical sea enclosed the whole park. The creatures living in the sea embody the fossilized experience.

If you want to see a fossil, Goldstein advises visitors to pour water on the fossil beds and scrub.

"If the rock is clean, fossils stick out like crazy," Goldstein says.

If you like McCormick's Creek State Park, visit Charlestown State Park

While it may be one of the state’s youngest, established in 1996, this Indiana State Park has a lot to give. Covering 5,118-acres, Charlestown State Park is the state’s third largest park.

Hidden within the estate, discover the abandoned amusement park that was destroyed by a flood in 1937. The area that once attracted hundreds of people with its roller coasters and caged lions now gives visitors a glimpse back in time.

The diverse landscape makes every trail unique. Climb a valley wall to the winding rock outcrops or follow the wooded ravine to a scenic view of Fourteenmile Creek.

If you like Brown County State Park, visit O'Bannon Woods State Park

Nestled into the 24,000-acre Harrison-Crawford State Forest, O’Bannon Woods is known for its caves, wooded trails and rich history.

The area has a secluded feel, providing an authentic wilderness retreat for visitors. Within the woods, take a trip back in time to a 1800s-era pioneer farmstead equipped with a blacksmith shop, a summer kitchen, and hay press.

The woods are also home to Wyandotte Cave. The natural landmark is more than nine miles in length and holds Monument Mountain. At 135 feet in height, it is thought to be the tallest natural formation of its kind.

From historic farmsteads, natural landmarks and modern marvels, O’Bannon Woods is the perfect place to celebrate the birthday of Indiana’s state parks.