52 Hikes in 52 Weeks: Hike 16, Prophetstown State Park

May 7, 2016

4112 E. State Road 225 • West Lafayette, IN 47906

A family camping weekend at Indiana’s newest state park allowed us a chance to hike on land steeped in history.  The park, established in 2004 and located at the confluence of the Tippecanoe River and Wabash River, is the site of the famous Battle of Tippecanoe.  The park showcases some of its historic past with a recreated Native American Village and a 1920’s farm complete with a garden and farm animals.  Ten miles of trails allow you to explore various habitats ranging from open woodlands to a restored prairie.

Today’s hiking herd consisted of myself, my sister Becky and daughter Casie.  We started our hike in light rain, picking up trail 1 right in the campground where we were staying for the weekend.  The trail here was level, grassy and open.

After the short spur trail from the campground, we followed Trail 1 east to meet up with Trail 2.  We could easily see our campsites across the open prairie.

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Trail 2 was also wide and grassy, paralleling a small creek.  The creek eventually opened up into a large pond, with the trail passing along the south edge.

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The pond edge was dotted with benches and picnic tables, perfect for spending a relaxing afternoon.  We spotted several turtles relaxing on some large rocks on the far side of the pond.

Swimming around the turtles were a pair of Mallard ducks.  Neither the turtles nor the ducks seemed particularly bothered by our presence.

Summer wildflowers added color to our hike!

As we worked our way around the east edge of the pond, we veered off onto Trail 3.  The trail narrowed and passed by some huge old growth trees.  How exciting to think that some of these trees were alive when Tecumseh, and his brother The Prophet, wandered these hills.

The different habitats allowed us to see a variety of birds, reptiles and insects.  As we were finishing our hike, we ran into a couple who told us they had seen bald eagles.  Sadly, we continued our trend of NOT seeing any eagles.

As we ventured deeper into the woods, the hills became larger.  There were some helpful bridges to get us across some of the steeper sections.

We took the northern part of the Trail 3 loop and followed it to where it connected with Trail 4.  Trail 4 is an out and back trail following the shoreline of the Tippecanoe River.

The trail along the river was a variety of open fields and woodlands.  Parts of the trail were bordered on either side by tall yellow wildflowers.

As we strolled along the riverbank, we came across a mama duck and her large group of ducklings.  Mama was quite concerned about us and made every effort to distract us by feigning injury as her babies floated on down the river.  We hurried along trying to encourage her to ignore us and stick with her brood.  She eventually decided we were a safe distance away and quickly flew on down the river.  The river was flowing quite swiftly so we really hope she was able to reunite with her babies!  The pictures aren’t the best because we tried to put some distance between us and her to show we weren’t a threat.  No duckling pictures for the same reason.

Once we reconnected with Trail 3, we opted to take the southern half of the loop to travel some new ground.  The trail returned to open prairie with an occasional bench on which to sit and take in the sights and sounds.  The skies grew increasingly threatening but the storms never materialized.

All in all, we hiked a little over 6 miles.  The terrain was surprisingly varied and the trail along the river was beautiful.  We saw quite a bit of wildlife and lots of pretty wildflowers.  The hiking was more enjoyable than I was expecting!  We returned to our campsite to a hot meal of grilled cheese sandwiches and campfire chili ready and waiting.  Doesn’t get much better than that!  We spent the remainder of our chilly evening watching the sun set and warming ourselves around the campfire.

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