Then head over to Clifty Falls State Park and Nature Preserve in Madison, Indiana.
In nearby Madison, Indiana you’ll find treasures galore. Here is a link to Madison’s tourism peeps. They have a interactive map that will help you find what you are looking for.
We travel to Madison fairly often and here are some of my favorite things to do in town…
First lunch at The Red Pepper Cafe on Main Street. It wouldn’t do me any good to tell you what is good, since it is all good plus the menu changes daily.
Next = WINE. We park and walk from place to place. Lanthier Winery is surrounded by eclectic gardens. Inside you’ll find a wine tasting counter. Plan on staying a while and tasting all the wines especially the cherry cordial with a chunk of dark chocolate. Yum. Then head back to Main Street and tour the shops.
On Main Street stop by Cocoa Safari and get a few incredible delectable delights. My favorite is the sea salt dark chocolate caramels.
If you into antiques, books, tea, curios, handmade soaps–well you are in luck because there are several different shops that you can get lost in.
As for hiking…if it has rained you likely won’t be able to Hike Trail #2 since it is the actual creek-bed. Plus, you can’t typically cross this trail if there has been a lot of rain because the water will be too high, too fast, and too cold.
But, you can start and the Nature Center and follow trail #1 to the Fire Tower where you can spy a panoramic view of the river valley. It is very pretty and on a windy day — more than a little nerve wrecking. You can continue on #1 and then hop on #3 (pass Hoffman Falls), to #4, to #5 to get to the tunnel and Tunnel Falls. I personally think Tunnel Falls is prettier than Big Clifty Falls but some people in my family would vehemently disagree (but they don’t have a blog so there!).
Anyways, the trail will be steep at times but when you get closes to #4 and #5 it levels off some. In fact, portions of these trails are wooden walkways.
Just keep in mind, you have to get back to where you started so double the length. The last thing you want is hungry tired children and a five mile hike back to the Inn or the car. An easy fix to this is have one of the adults park the car at the end of the hike and then walk the road back to the Inn where they can join you and the kids to start hiking for the day with the family.
WARNING: If you decide to hike #8 it is essentially an out and back if there is high water on #2. Also, EVEN THOUGH on the map it looks like you can get from #8 to #2 or #7 on the north end near Big Clifty Falls YOU CAN’T and you’d be an idiot to try. I’m not being mean, I’m being honest. IF you try to climb the cliff sides realize one it is illegal because it is illegal to go off trail in a state park, two you are climbing sandstone, shale, and clay (not exactly durable substrates), three if you fall–you fall on jagged rocks some 20-30 feet below, and four it will take a really long time for ropes rescue crews to get you out of the gorge and to the hospital. Not a good day for anyone.
Clifty Falls State Park is a wonderful place to explore and we have enjoyed this park ever since I can remember. Just be safe and stay on the assigned trails, head to town and eat chocolates, try some wines at Lanthier or Thomas wineries, dine at The Red Pepper, and take in the rich history of the area.
If you want to be sure of your footing then trekking poles will help. Plus, using them burns more calories! So, you can justifiably eat more chocolates. If you can’t get to your local small business outfitter then take a look at MooseJaw. I know weird name but they got the goods at decent prices. Here is a link for 30% – 70% off Patagonia, Arcteryx, Marmot and more now at Moosejaw.com
Oh, and the pretty pic I used was from a spring hike. It is still winter at Clifty Falls! 😉