Tag: Hoosier National Forrest


2022 Week 17 – Road Trip (Part 2)

Welcome back to part-2 of the first camping trip of 2022. Last week we continued south in search of some famous pretzels after both Disc Golf courses we planned to play were too wet…

Tell City is an interesting little river town. However, if you follow the traffic pattern (towards the Ohio River Bridge), you’ll miss the best part of the town, the downtown area. I’d estimate 95% of the traffic traveling on Indiana 66 (The Ohio River Scenic Byway) bypasses Mainstreet and misses a nice part of this little city. Many shops, restaurants, and other locally owned businesses line the 1.5-mile stretch.

I was here for the Tell City Pretzels only to find out they had moved the retail location to the back of a clothing store called “Logos/Scrub Corner.” This must have been a recent move, as Google Maps was still showing the old location (the official website is up to date, though). While cruising Main Street, I spotted a little Bakery and stopped in to check it out. Since it was later in the day, the items had been picked over, but I walked out with a Blueberry Scone and a piece of Coffee Cake with an espresso crumble on top.

Time to head up the road and set up camp. The morning started out clear, but the clouds were building as the day progressed.

Camping in the HNF

Check-in at Indian-Celina is always a smooth process. Of course, it helps to have a reservation, and I always make one to get the spots I like. Firewood is $1 cheaper ($7 a bundle) than years past, so I grabbed 3 to ensure I’d have enough for the evening. The plan was to sit around the fire, enjoy a few pints of my favorite Sun King beer (Orange Vanilla Cream Ale), set up the Short Wave radio, or watch a movie on the iPad Pro.

This trip was the first one where I got to test out the new Gazelle T4 tent. To say this is an upgrade is an understatement. While I loved my previous tent, the Gazelle offers so much more room, and it totally changes the camping experience. There are tradeoffs, though. The T4 is BIG, and it’s HEAVY, but the setup time is only a few minutes, thanks to its hub design. That extra space came in handy as I started to get alerts from Dark Sky about rain in the area. Yep, the weather had turned…

Throughout the week, the weather was showing clear and warm, with a high in the low 70s and a low of 50-degrees. That’s just about perfect camping weather if you ask me. The temps held but the sky decided to open up just in time for dinner. Luckily it was not heavy rain, but it was enough to require shelter well into the early hours. So, after setup and loading everything into the tent to keep it dry, I set off for the local family diner to grab some dinner.

Amish Style food will fill you up. It’s carb and meat-heavy and always has several sweet dessert options. The Schwartz Family Restaurant in Eckerty, IN, is no exception. I’ve passed this place on my way to the campsite several times, but this trip was my first time visiting. You have to be careful about time in this part of Indiana. The campground is in Central Time (Perry County), and the restaurant (Crawford County) is in Eastern Time. I’m glad I left when I did because the restaurant closes at 8 pm and I arrived after 7 pm. The cafeteria-style establishment is VERY clean, and you can tell it’s a favorite of the locals. It’s one of the few places to eat in the area, so they have little competition.

Friday night was Fish night, but I chose the Chicken Tender dinner (meat & 2 sides for $14.99). While they had several pieces of chicken on the steam table, the young lady behind the counter insisted I get some from the fresh batch being cooked in the back. So I chose mashed potatoes/gravy and mac-n-cheese for my two sides.

I had finished my sides before the chicken came out, but I can report it all being very good, and I would not hesitate to re-visit and try several of their other dishes. It’s nice to have this as a dinner option when I don’t feel like cooking at camp. It could be a good breakfast option since they’re open early on the weekends.

The rain didn’t let up until about 2 am, so I set up a little seating area in the Gazelle and hunkered down with a James Bond movie and some podcasts later into the evening.

As you can see, I had plenty of room in the Gazelle and kept warm and dry throughout the night. So if I’m going to be stuck inside, this is the tent to do it in. Next time I need to get my Kelty Noah tarp strung up between the trees to give me a covered area outside the tent.

As usual, the birds were up before dawn chatting with each other, but the rain had stopped, and the temperatures were mild. So I packed up camp and headed out to check on some new camping locations in the area before heading back to Indianapolis.

This was a quick overnight trip, but it was worth it to test the new tent. I wish I had ordered one of these before my Allegheny National Forest trip last year, where we saw rain daily and were pretty miserable by the week’s end. Having a larger shelter makes all the difference, and being able to stand up is a game-changer.

That’s it for this week; thanks for reading. We’ll be back to the normal format next week, but I have some travel plans soon to share.

Trip Report – Hoosier National Forrest

I’ve been planning an overnight getaway to the Hoosier National Forrest (HNF) for a while now.  I prefer weeknight trips to avoid the rush of weekend warriors that fill the campsites throughout the US.  

It was funny (and totally coincidental) to see a writeup in the latest Indianapolis Monthly this month.  Even more so that they featured one of the areas I was going to visit.  Kind of made me feel better that I’d picked a good spot to visit!

I started southeast of Bloomington in the Charles C. Deam Wilderness area.  Specifically at the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower.   This is one seriously tall tower! My plan was to make the trip to the top after some exploring.

After checking my map one more time I headed down the Out-and-Back Terrill Ridge Trail. I had been told from a co-worker that there were some good camping areas at the end of the trail as well as a pioneer cemetery.

As you van see it’s a pretty flat twin track trail that is used to access the cemetery. There was a sign indicating you could drive back there with permission. At the end I found the cemetery but there were N0 Camping signs everywhere so I continued to scout around.

About a 1/4 mile back there was a bend in the trail and I totally missed the sign that showed the spur trail that take you back to a Lilly pad covered pond and several disbursed sites.

Having marked a few GPS waypoints for future reference I headed back to the car. Unfortunately my IT Band started to act up half way back to climbing the tower was out of the question. I just wanted to get off my feet! It’s kind of funny an IT Guy ends up with IT Band issues…

I decided to head down to the Saddle Lake Recreation area and scope things out. They have 2 camping areas. One that’s primitive (North Face) and one that has electricity (South Slope). I decided to drive through the first one and see if there were any spots available. Sure enough the weekday excursion paid off. Plenty of sites! Since I didn’t have a reservation I stopped by the Camp Host site to see what I should do.

That’s where I met Wendy & Jerry. The had been hosting at the North Face campground since April and the had a pretty nice little setup going. This was Jerry’s first year as a host and he said he was really enjoying it. Wendy had been hosting for several years prior.

They bickered a little about which campsite to assign me, each thinking the one they had in mind was better than the other. In the end we ended up in North Face Site 18 in the and it could not have been more perfect. It was a big site with plenty of room for my 3-man tent. You could have setup a 10-man tent and still had room.

I purchased a couple of bundles of firewood and Jerry offered to bring them by once I got settled. He came by about 20-minutes later to deliver the firewood and see how I was getting along.

After a filling meal of Mountian House Chili Mac, a few IPA’s I brought back from San Antonio, and a nice campfire I retired for the night to rest up for Day-2. The tacos dipped into the 50’s and it was a very comfortable night.

As usual when camping nature is usually your best alarm clock. I was awakened by numerous song birds each singing their identifiable melody. The air was cool and, as usual, a little damp. The tree cover helped minimize the dew and kept things a lot drier than I was expecting.

I packed up camp and made sure the fire was completely out by stirring up the ashes with a stick and feeling for any warmth. We were all good!

I was heading back to Indy today but I wasn’t in any hurry. I remembered seeing an interesting rock slide the last time I was in the Marengo, Indiana area and decided to check it out before taking a tour of the Marengo Cave U.S. National Landmark.

The rock slide was right next to the road (Highway 64 near Milltown, IN) and it looked like a huge hole deep into the rock. There was a mining operation in the area as well so that might have caused the cave-in.

Marengo Cave is a nicely run operation. The whole property is clean and very well taken care of. They have camping sites available as well as places to hike and have a picnic. There are 2 tours available and you can buy a discounted package to tour both. Since I want to visit again I choose to take the shorter of the 2 tours that lasted about 40-minutes.

The Cave was discovered by 2 kids in the late 1800’s when the took a candle down into a sink hole and eventually found the first of dozens of rooms in the cave system. It’s an interesting story and the caves are worth a visit if you’re in the area.

I was passing through a little town when I saw the sign above. I had to turn around to come back and get this shot. I thought it was pretty funny.

So all in all I’ve only scratched the surface of the Hoosier National Forrest and I have several trips in the planning stages for next year (maybe one more this year if the weather cooperates). There are so many trails and places to camp it could take years to see them all. I feel fortunate we have such a well run National forrest in Indiana and I plan to visit again soon!

This trip came about from a casual conversation with a co-worker and the tips and suggestions he provided made this a very enjoyable few days! Do you have a favorite place in the HNF? I’d love to hear form you.