Shades State Park

#OptOutside or Hike Friday

Shades State Park- This is how I enjoyed the day after Thanksgiving!!!

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First Hike of 2017 – Shades State Park

Even though rain was forecast for January 2, SAC and I met up with a coworker at Shades State Park this morning. He has a knowledge of orchids and was showing us some places that they grow in Shades and Pine Hills. After walking around the top of Trail 1, we decided to hike trail 10 over to Pine Hills.


Now, I had spent the most part of the week between Christmas and New Year’s eating cookies and reading cozy mysteries, so not in the best of shape. SAC had spent several days laying around with a migraine and some kind of bug. (Not that we were in the best of shape anyway, since it had been several weeks since our last hike!)

Let’s just say, the steps down to the backbones KILLED us! Calves and thighs and oh my! We were both so out of shape that walking up and down stairs at home and work the following day were very painful. Add to that the grace that I was not born with that allowed me to slip down a muddy creek bank and land hard with my already sore shoulder still hanging on to a sapling and you have a very sore old woman. (At least I feel old this week!)

Anyway, we had a wonderful time hiking at our favorite place. Photos are never enough to give the full experience. The sights and smells of the mostly quiet forest calmed our souls and erased the headaches that we had when we arrived.

We were able to learn about several orchid species and can’t wait to locate them during bloom time.

Birds were scarce, but the regulars were there: Nuthatch, chickadees, blue jays, pileated and red-bellied woodpeckers, crow, geese and possible ovenbird. First time we haven’t seen an eagle here in a long time, though.

Great time at our favorite place! Go out and hike, no matter the weather.

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Shades State Park – August 22, 2016

It has been a hot, humid, stormy summer and it has been hard to be motivated to be outside any more than needs be. I have had to deal with tall, wet grass to cut and garden to weed and produce to pick and process.

That being said, we hadn’t been to Shades since June and set out to remedy that on Monday, August 22nd. We decided to take some easy trails as we had a late start – 1:30 – due to early appointments and errands.


We hiked trail 9, trail 6, and, as is our habit on every visit here, the top of trail 1. It was actually about 75 degrees and sunny today.

We saw two new birds to add to our IBBY list:

  • Black & White Warbler
  • Blackburnian Warbler

It was a good day, and as always when we hike at Shades, a rejuvenation of our spirits. I added 2 hours to my IMN volunteer time by picking up litter as I always do at State Parks.

Categories: Bicentennial Birding Big Year, Birding, Montgomery County, Shades State Park | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Shades with ROC

ROC hadn’t hiked at Shades State Park with us yet this year, so we took a quick trip down there last Sunday after helping my sisters move a kitchen cabinet. It was beautiful and sunny, about 75 degrees.

We hiked the top of trail one and around north of the parking lot. Shades is a balm to my weary soul every time I hike here. We had a very low key hike seeing an immature bald eagle and the usual birds to keep us company.

Flowers Blooming:

  • Blue Violet
  • Yellow Violet
  • Wild Ginger
  • Prairie Trillium
  • Wild Geranium
  • Wild Phlox
  • Jack in the Pulpit
  • Golden Ragwort
  • Chickweed
  • Dandelions
  • Dogwood
  • Redbud

We saw and heard a possible Northern Parula, but since I’m not 100% sure and I have no photo to show for it (didn’t take camera) I’m not going to add it to the IBBY list.

We had a really good hike and I picked up 45 minutes of IMN Volunteer time.

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Amphibians and Timberdoodling

2016-03-12 18.23.07Amphibians and Timberdoodling – Shades State Park – March 12, 2016

Andrew Hoffman, Naturalist for Shades and Turkey Run State Park was leading an Amphibian Hike at Shades Saturday evening. There were about 20 people maybe and a dozen or so were grade school age – very talkative grade school age! But they were fairly knowledgeable and very enthusiastic. We went east of the Gatehouse towards a vernal wetlands area that Andrew was monitoring for frogs. He said this wetland would be dry by the summer as they trees wouldn’t be growing there if they were inundated by water year round.

He told us about the biphasic lives of amphibians and talked about what they ate and at what stage they ate it. He also said amphibians have thin skins so they prefer wet, cool weather and were good environmental indicators because of this.

He said the salamander is the most abundant predator in the woods. The grade-schoolers had a hard time believing this since many had never seen one.

Andrew had minnow traps he had already set out and he walked out in the water to retrieve them and see what we could find. Most of them had a burrowing crawfish in them. Most were females with eggs. He also pointed out frog egg masses in the water.

Frogs for the evening:

  • Wood frog
  • Chorus frog
  • Spring Peeper

The sounds were deafening and it is hard to imagine a frog no larger than a quarter can cause that loud of a sound.

2016-03-12 18.51.27We also heard and spooked a wood duck pair off the wetlands. They nest there in the wet area. We were fortunate to see a bald eagle flow over also.

After we walked back to a wetland next to the road, we all became frog hunters and passed what we found around to see the differences between the species.

That was the end of our amphibian hike. I learned a lot from Andrew. This is the second hike I’ve taken with him and the third time talking to him. He is a very knowledgeable young man and has a passion for nature and the ability to infect others with the passion for learning.

He said he would be around if anyone wanted to go Timberdoodling, which I was glad since the Friends of TRSSP had postponed the Timberdoodle Hike until next week due to possible rain.

Most of the people left, but a dad and his two grade school daughters and I and my daughter joined us later. We were able to hear the American Woodcock calling and whistling, but the girls were a little loud and didn’t get to see them this year. We also heard a Great Horned Owl calling.

Birds for the evening:

  • Wood Duck
  • Bald Eagle
  • American Woodcock
  • Great Horned Owl
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Shades State Park – April 12, 2015

I stopped off at Shades State Park to refresh and recharge after spending the past two days presenting at the Women’s Wellness Weekend at Turkey Run State Park.

I walked trails 9 and 1 Just short trails but needed to have some time alone. I did run into five ladies from the WWW who had attended our workshops and walks. Had a great talk with them.

And as I walked along the lower part of Trail 1, I met up with a couple who saw a chipmunk attack a snake. The snake lost – the chipmunk bit its head off!

The Canada geese have again made a nest under the observation platform at Prospect Point. Parent was sitting on the nest.  Interestingly, there were two eggs back off the platform behind the “Hiker” sign. Curious.

Plants seen:

  1. Cut-leaf Toothwort
  2. Trout Lily
  3. Bloodroot
  4. Spring Beauties
  5. Dutchman’s Breeches (including a pink version – Does that make it Dutchwoman’s breeches?)
  6. Squirrel Corn
  7. False Rue Anemone
  8. Purple Violets
  9. Toadshade AKA Sessile Trillium
  10. Phlox
  11. Young Jack in the Pulpits
  12. Purple Cress
Categories: Birding, Botany, First of Year, Montgomery County, Shades State Park, Spring, State Parks Indiana | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Let’s Go Timberdoodling! – March 14, 2015

Picture of group of people birding at dusk by Stephanie Cain

The orange circle shows where the woodcock was–very close to our group!

Saturday evening, daughter and I went timberdoodling at Shades State Park with the Friends of Turkey Run and Shades State Park. We met at the shelter near the entrance to the park and then walked with the group to the site where the American Woodcock would hopefully perform its amazing spring dance.

Alan Bruner, birder extraordinaire and leader of the hike, told us that the woodcock is a very camouflaged bird and is a wooded wetland bird, but comes out in the open short grass area to dance his dance.

The courtship dance begins with the male calling numerous “peents” from the ground, facing all directions of the compass to maximize his range. Then he flies straight up into the air with a whistling sound which is caused by the airflow through his feathers. When he is almost out of sight, he then starts his descent, making another whistling sound – again caused by wind through his feathers – and then back on the ground and more “peents.”

We started hearing the calls while we still had light enough to see. I have no idea how many birds we actually saw or heard, but it seemed like several.

It sometimes swooped right by our party of about a dozen people and would land maybe 15 feet in front of us. We all had very good views of the bird both when it was flying and when it was “peenting” on the grass beside us. This was a really incredible evening as we watched them fly up and down and call its spring courtship call.

The sunset was exceptionally beautiful and a wonderful ending to a beautiful spring – like day.

An orange and yellow and blue sunset

Categories: Birding, Montgomery County, Shades State Park, Spring | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Adopt A Trail

Hike Date: August 31, 2014
Indiana State Parks has a volunteer program called Adopt A Trail in which volunteers agree to walk their chosen trail once a month and check on trail conditions, pick up litter, and notify park officials as to any problems with the trail.

Stephanie and I decided to adopt the Backpack Trail and Canoe Camp at our absolute favorite state park in Indiana – Shades.

For those who have never visited this park, you are missing a gem. It is a beautiful place in Montgomery County along Sugar Creek. The trails are along ravines, in upland woods, hemlock ridges and along prairie (formerly known as the Roscoe-Turner Airstrip.)

This was our fourth month to hike the trail in this capacity. We have hiked the seven-mile round trip in as little as 3-1/2 hours and as long as 7 hours. This time was a moderate pace at 5 1

It is always interesting to walk the same trail on a regular basis to see the different flora and fauna present.

This was a day of tiny toads and frogs and fungi and plants setting seeds.

Items of note:

  • Doll’s eyes / White Banebarry
  • Jack in the pulpit seed pod
  • Tiny toads
  • Fungi
  • Spice Bush Berries
  • Pawpaw (Indiana Banana) Fruit
  • Giant Lobelia
  • Asiatic Lily
  • Tall Bellflower
  • Brown Eyed Susan

Birds seen:

  • Chickadee
  • Down Woodpecker
  • Hairy Woodpecker
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Crow
  • Blue Jay
  • Eastern Wood Pewee


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Great Backyard Bird Count – February 20, 2012

Birds Seen:

  • Starlings
  • Mourning Doves
  • Northern Cardinals
  • English Sparrows
  • Chickadees
  • House Finch
  • Blue Jays
  • Brown Headed Cowbirds
  • American Tree Sparrows
  • Song Sparrows

We took our annual trip today to visit a specific wet area at Turkey Run State Park for the look at first flowering plant of the season – Skunk Cabbage.  My dad took me there when I was young and I have continued that tradition with my daughter – even to today. She’s always, well, almost always, game for my adventures. We usually don’t have a chance to go look for the skunk cabbage until early March, but since I had President’s Day off from school and she is presently working from home, we went on a Monday.

We left home about 9 with temperatures below freezing, but the sun was shining and the sky was that beautiful blue that only winter can bring.

We saw our FOY (first of the year) red-wing blackbird in his full regalia on our way there. It is always so good to see the FOY birds. It brings us a little closer to Spring!

We always park at the Lusk Home and then walk over the covered bridge on Trail 1. There is a boggy area just a ways down the trail and on the left that usually has some blooming, but we only found one. They are hard to spot at first, but usually once you find one, the rest come into focus!

We walked on down the trail and looked at the boggy area on the right after the trail turns back west.  There were lots of them blooming! We took several pictures before we left.

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We saw a bluebird flying around by the parking area there at the Lusk home. We also saw a downy or hairy woodpecker and a tufted titmouse.

We then went north to Shades State Park – our favorite place in the world! I was hoping to find Harbinger of Spring – Pepper and Salt – Erigenia bulbosa in bloom, but decided it might be a bit early.  We’ll come back in a couple of weeks. We instead took our favorite loop around the top of trail one.

We saw two Pileated Woodpeckers, a red-headed woodpecker, turkey vultures and then a red tail hawk working on its lunch in the ditch as we left.

We headed north and west through Kingman to Lake Holiday Hideaway to look at the swans. When I volunteered to help at the Turkey Run Eagle Day Weekend, we were giving out maps of Eagle nests and also of the location of the swans. We didn’t have time that day to go there, so we went to look at them today.

Categories: First Of Year, Great Backyard Bird Count, Shades State Park, State Parks Indiana, Turkey Run State Park | 1 Comment

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