Sunday, July 12, 2015

McCormick's Creek State Park: Trail #9 (Blog Hike #527)

Trail: Trail #9
Hike Location: McCormick’s Creek State Park
Geographic Location: east of Spencer, IN
Length: 1.2 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: June 2015
Overview: A loop hike to the Historic Peden Farm Site.

Directions to the trailhead: In western Indiana, take I-70 to US 231 (exit 41).  Exit and go south on US 231.  Drive US 231 south 18.6 miles to its intersection with SR 46 in the town of Spencer.  Turn left on SR 46.  Drive SR 46 east 1.7 miles to the park entrance on the left.  Turn left to enter the park, and pay the small entrance fee.  Drive the main park road 1.1 miles to the signed turn-off for the Deer Run Picnic Shelter.  Turn right on the shelter access road, which ends in 0.4 miles at a cul de sac.  Park in the picnic shelter parking lot located just before you reach the cul de sac.

The hike: For my general comments on McCormick’s Creek State Park, see the previous hike.  Whereas the previous hike explored the park’s geological points of interest, this hike visits the Historic Peden Farm Site.  The site preserves what remains of a farm that was built here in the 1800’s before the park was established.  Trail #9 also provides a quiet walk through some nice forest to boot.
Trailhead: Trail #9
            The trail forms a loop with our outward portion beginning directly in front of your car (if you park with the usual hood-first orientation) and the return portion arriving at the cul de sac at the park road’s end to your left.  The wide single-track dirt trail heads east through mature forest that contains some nice maple and beech trees.  The trail climbs very gradually, but the grade is so slight you may not notice it.
            Several sinkholes appear beside the trail.  The depressions remind you of this area’s karst topography, which forms abundant caves and sinks such as those seen on Trail #5 from the previous hike.  At 0.3 miles, you cross the park’s bridle trail for the first of two times.  Continue straight to remain on Trail #9, which is hiker-only.
Sinkhole beside trail
            Now east of the bridle trail, the trail curves left as it reaches the highest elevation on this hike.  The park’s eastern boundary lies only a few hundred feet to the right, and a few benches offer an opportunity to rest if desired.  When I hiked this trail in mid-June, the mosquitoes outnumbered the birds here, so I did not wish to linger for long.
            At 0.8 miles, you cross the bridle trail for the second and final time.  An unusually large sinkhole appears on the right just after this intersection.  Just past 0.9 miles, the signed spur trail to the Historic Peden Farm Site exits right.  Turn right to begin the narrow winding spur trail.
            Another 0.1 miles of downhill walking brings you to the farm site.  First you pass the Peden’s home site, of which only the stone foundation survives.  Next you come to the spring house, which remains intact.  You can feel the cool damp rocks that comprise the spring house’s foundation.  Just when you think you might have seen all there is to see, you reach the stone pillars that are the ruins of the Peden’s barn.  An interpretive sign tells of Nancy Peden (McCormick), the daughter of John McCormick and the first person to live on this portion of McCormick’s land.  Take a few minutes to imagine what life was like here in the mid 1800’s.
Peden Home Site foundation

Peden Farm's spring house

Peden Farm's barn remnants
            The Peden Farm Site tour ends at the barn, so now you have to get back to Trail #9.  You could retrace your steps along the spur trail, but a shorter option is to take a gravel service road slightly uphill to its signed crossing of Trail #9.  Turn right to continue the Trail #9 loop.  You come out at the park road’s cul de sac less than 0.2 miles later, meaning that your car sits less than 200 feet to your left.

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