The Narrowing of Trail 3

Trail 3 Canyon
Following the climb up the waterfall, trail 3 narrows considerably, and the stream flows a bit faster due to this narrowing. There are two ways to navigate through this area, and in summer, people seem to stay on the canyon floor and walk through the flowing creek.  There are some grooves and potholes that make the hike a bit tricky in spots, but overall, it's a simple walk.

The Canyon Narrows

The second way is to follow the small steps carved into the canyon wall.  These were obviously carved by those wishing to keep their feet dry, and were probably not intended for those with backpacks.  The steps barely fit your shoe, but there are also some hand holds carved into the rock to help hikers keep their balance. The narrow path on the wall is about 8 feet above the canyon floor, so not too high, but care must still be taken as one slip could result in an injury.

The High Road or Low Road

In the photo above, most people are taking the route through the creek bed. Judging by the look on their faces as I walked up the wall, I think in this case, many people didn't realize there was another option.

The only problem with the high path is when another hiker is heading the other way.  There are very few places to step aside to pass, so people must simply look ahead before they climb up.

Negotiating Trail 3

While this portion of trail 3 is a bit challenging, it's not beyond the ability of most hikers - providing they don't mind wet feet.

Toward the Light

The Dark Canyon

After passing Wedge Rock, the trail turns, widens a bit, then deepens toward the next turn, where hikers must walk up the running stream into a narrow, more challenging channel. The canyon walls are shaded from the sun by the dense canopy of leaves above, creating high contrast patches of light and shadow. The light is very dramatic, and often bright green from the trees above.

Heading toward the light, up the creek bed brings you to a small cascade of water you must walk through. Standing on rocks or logs helps keep your feet dry.

Up the Creek

During periods of rainfall, this portion of the trail can have much more running water. While I've never seen it rushing over the entire surface, I have seen it several inches deep on this incline, flowing down as hikers attempt to walk up. Expect to get your feet wet if you visit trail 3.

Toward the Light

The logs and rocks only provide dry walking area for a while, then one must jump off and look for the shallowest parts of the stream to walk through.  Unless of course, you wear water shoes, which would work well here.

Once past this area, the canyon narrows and funnels hikers into a picturesque channel where there are two options:  Get your feet wet and walk through the stream, or stay dry and climb the narrow path carved into the canyon wall.

The Hike to Wedge Rock

The Approach to Wedge Rock

Following several days of heavy rain, the level of Sugar Creek rose several feet, closing many of the poplar destinations around Parke County, Indiana. All canoe livery services were closed, and many of the trails in Turkey Run State Park were closed due to the high water.

We watched all week hoping the trails would reopen by the weekend so we could hike the canyons of Turkey Run, and upon our arrival we discovered all of the trails were open again.

Our favorite trail is Trail 3, which takes visitors on a journey through a densely canopied canyon. Labeled as rugged, hikers must walk through the shallow stream in areas, up a small waterfall, and over countless boulders. Nothing too difficult, but it's certainly interesting to hike where the trail is actually the creek bed.

Trail Canyon

The first thing one notices is the drop in temperature. The canyon is quite a bit cooler than the surrounding area, even in the summer. The forest above changes as well.  Many more coniferous trees surround the canyon, and deep green moss grows on most surfaces, making the canyon appear to be something from the Pacific Northwest.

The scale of the canyon is also something to take note of.  While certainly nothing of the scope of the American West, these canyons make visitors feel very small indeed.

Climbing Wedge Rock

Wedge Rock was the first formation of significance of Trail 3 on our hike.  A large rock torn from the canyon wall thousands of years ago by water and ice expanding over time.  The rocks appear like giant tumbled dominoes, and the trail wanders directly under one domino.  Viewed from the trail, the tip of the rock formation seems to be about 35 feet up, and very difficult to reach, but walk around the back of the rock, and it's a relatively easy walk up a 30 degree slope to the tip. The coniferous tree at the top has managed to grow despite the lack of soil, and the meandering roots can be seen winding their way around the rock to reach water.

On Top of Wedge Rock

It wouldn't be a trip through Trail 3 without a careful climb to the top of Wedge Rock. The view of the canyon is great from this vantage point, as it sits right on the turn in the trail.  While at the top, this can certainly be a dangerous place to walk or sit, however, the climb up the root-covered rock is quite easy and safe.

Nature's Sandcastles

Lush Dunes

Walking along the foot of the Central Beach dunes is a bit more difficult these days. Lake Michigan waves often reach the dune itself now that most of the beach is gone.  This wave action will cause more of the dunes to crumble into the lake, at a faster and faster rate.

Sandcastle

These dunes change every day, and the small details can change by the moment.  As ground water moves down to the clay bottoms of the dunes, it finally finds its way to the end where it seeps out and falls to the beach. A bit of sand is carried by the water, and in places, sand stalagmites form where it falls. Much like the sandcastles kids build by letting very wet sand pour out of their hands to make towers, the sand creates collections of little towers. These towers may only last a few minutes until a wave wipes them out.

Natural Castles

These towers were washed away by a wave moments after this photo was taken.  I imagine they were created in about an hour by the dripping water, unlike their stone cousins the stalagmites, which take thousands of years to create.

Always looking for something new and interesting along the national National Lakeshore, and nature never disappoints.