The autumnal equinox is coming. And I can’t wait!
While Labor Day officially marks the end of summer in our culture, the autumnal equinox marks the beginning of fall. The “autumnal” part of the phrase references autumn and the “equinox” part of the phrase means the day and night are split evenly at 12 hours each, on the equator. In addition to less daylight, I love autumn because of hayrides, apple picking, corn mazes, pumpkin picking, and the leaves changing color.
You might know that leaves have a green pigment inside them called chlorophyll that traps the sunlight leaves use to produce food for the tree. In preparation for winter, trees seal off leaves and stop producing chlorophyll leaving only the other pigments to be seen. The yellow and orange pigments are present year round but are only seen after the chlorophyll has faded away. The red and purple pigments are only produced in late summer.
Excursions to see the beautiful displays of color during fall is a favorite among many Americans, including myself. So here are some places in Indiana that you might not have thought to visit where you can be awed by the beauty of nature.
Butler – From Hinkle Fieldhouse, walk southwest past the Health and Recreation Complex towards Lake Rd. and Holcomb Observatory. Take Garden Rd. north into the trees and you can cross the canal. You’ll find trees on both sides of the canal along Central Canal Trial from north of W 52nd St. to South of the IMA at 38th St.
Clifty Falls – You can find Clifty Falls State Park just north of the Ohio River, in Southeast Indiana. Clifty has more than 12 miles of trails and features 4 waterfalls over 6 stories tall. A favorite of mine, I’m including Clifty because an ADA accessible overlook can be found at the north end of the park.
Crown Hill – With 25 miles of paved road and more than 4,000 trees over its magnificent 555 acres, Crown Hill Cemetery at 700 W 38th St in Indianapolis is easily-overlooked but you do not want to miss the amazing colors right here inside the loop. They even have a walking tour specifically with trees in mind.
Fall Creek – A drive through mature trees in the city, you wouldn’t expect to find such beauty within the city limits of Indianapolis. But if you get off I-465 at the Shadeland Ave. exit and head northeast up Fall Creek Rd., you’ll be delighted with this trip. For the first part of the drive, you’ll be along side Fall Creek but won’t be able to tell due to the thick cover. Up and down hills, around curves, you’ll think you’re in Southern Indiana. Just past 82nd St., turn west onto Mud Creek Rd. and drive north up to 96th St. Head west 2/3rds of a mile to Sargent Rd. and go south until you reach Fall Creek Rd again and turn right, which points you west and in the direction you came.
Greenways – The city of Indianapolis has some gorgeous greenways if you like to walk or bike. Eagle Creek Greenway, Fall Creek Parkway Trail, and Pleasant Run Trail are all great places to see fall colors.
IU – Enter campus on foot through the iconic Sample Gates at Indiana Ave & Kirkwood Ave. Walk east through Dunn Woods towards the Union. Further east past Ballantine Hall, you’ll find Bryan’s House surrounded by trees.
Notre Dame – Starting from the football stadium on foot, head north towards Hesburgh Library. Then walk west across St Joseph Dr. through Fieldhouse Mall. Go southwest around LaFortune Student Center and into the trees in front of Main Building, which will be to the north. A little further to the west, a jaunt around Saint Joseph’s Lake or Saint Mary’s Lake, should be worth your while too.
Parke County – The covered bridges of Parke County are the focal point of the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival every year. Considered the “Covered Bridge Capital of the World,” if you want to skip the peak of tourism, don’t visit between October 9th and the 18th, which are 2015’s festival dates. But you can still follow the planned map routes to see the 31 bridges.
Trader’s Point – This gorgeous drive, on the northwest side, will give you lots of opportunity to see spectacular colors. On 465, get off at 56th St. and head west to Eagle Creek Pkwy. Go north, twisting and turning your way through the colors until you pass under I-65 and reach Lafayette Rd. Turn north and follow that up to W 86th. St. Head due east to Moore Rd. then go north past Traders Point Creamery until you hit W 96th St on your right before the road curves to the left. Take W 96th St. east until you go under I-465 and hit Zionsville Rd. which you can take south until you reach W 86th St. where you can get back onto the highway.