Indiana's Turkey Run Inn Is One of the Midwest's Great State Park Stays
Sitting on a rocking chair on a veranda at Indiana's Turkey Run State Park Inn feels surprisingly like taking refuge deep in the forest. The only sounds? Wind rustling through the trees. Owls hooting. Squirrels chattering. Brooks babbling. Maybe that's why quiet types flock here-bird-watchers, hikers and history buffs eager to explore Parke County (about 70 miles west of Indianapolis) and its covered bridges.
Built of brick and stone, the inn anchors one of Indiana's oldest state parks. Above the entryway, a stained-glass window depicts one of the red-and-white covered bridges dotting nearby roads. Patchwork quilts cover comfy beds in 57 modest guest rooms, and common areas are cozy with carved wood furniture and crackling fireplaces.
The only thing that seems to break the tranquility is the bustling Narrows Restaurant, a regional destination for Hoosier comfort foods like crispy breaded pork tenderloins and moist fried chicken. In the mornings, the kitchen sends out Trailblazer platters laden with fried potatoes, eggs, fluffy pancakes and sizzling breakfast meats.
The dishes fuel hikers tackling more than 13 miles of trails meandering through old-growth forests and sandstone gorges where turkeys roam. A suspension bridge crosses Sugar Creek, and uphill, Camel's Back reveals a panorama of the 2,400-acre park. Adventurers climb to the overlook all year long, but especially in October when walnut and sycamore groves shimmer yellow, red and gold (you should be prepared to share the view with crowds). If you desire quiet, spring might just be the best time to come.
While You're There
1. The 11 hiking trails will definitely make your heart pump. Only the half-mile Trail 11 is easy. The others range from moderate to rugged.
2. Plan to see the Narrows Covered Bridge, a red-and-white beauty built over Sugar Creek in 1882. Or head out to some some of the other 30 in Parke County.
3. Get a different perspective of the park on a floating journey with Clements Canoes Outdoor Center.
4. The on-site Saddle Barn gives visitors a chance to explore Turkey Run's beauty on seasonal guided trail rides.