Column: Nearby parks to visit this summer

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Commentary by Jessica Hoover

If you’re looking for a place for outdoor fun of all kinds, Eagle Creek Park is the place to go. With hiking trails spreading across 3,900 acres of land and even going through Eagle Creek Reservoir, the park is a hiker’s paradise. Along with the reservoir, Eagle Creek is home to Lilly Lake—a popular fishing spot—and an ice skating pond. Water activities include boating, fishing, swimming and visiting Plunge Harbor, which has an inflatable water slide, trampoline, climbing wall and more. If you’re an animal-lover like I am, you’ll love that the park has a bird sanctuary and even an ornithology and discovery center. But if birds aren’t your thing, your favorite four-legged friend is welcome as long as they are on a leash or you could set them free at the dog park located inside the park. Eagle Creek Park has something for everyone, complete with a golf course and a tree-top obstacle course.

Holliday Park

6363 Spring Mill Rd., Indianapolis

As one of Indianapolis’ oldest parks, Holliday Park is rich in both history and beauty. One of its most prominent features is a sculpture called “The Ruins,” which was made by combining different sections of demolished historical buildings. As soon as you walk in the park, the stunning landscaping will catch your eye, particularly when visiting the rock garden. However, the trails boast a natural beauty as you take a scenic trek along ravines, the White River and many other bodies of water. Holliday Park also has a playground for the kids to play on and an impressive nature center for people of all ages.

Fort Harrison State Park

6000 N. Post Rd., Indianapolis

Being the only state park in or near Indianapolis, all nature-enthusiasts need to visit Fort Harrison at least once. The park has a variety of trails: some for solely hiking, some for biking and hiking and a horse trail. The horses live right in the park and are available to rent from April to October. Other facilities include a visitor center, a dog park and the Museum of 20th Century Warfare. I’ve been to this park multiple times, and the beauty of it never seems to get old. Plus, when you live in Central Indiana it’s hard to find anything other than flat land, but Fort Harrison State Park does have the occasional hill to mix things up a bit.

Cool Creek Park

15513 S. Union St., Carmel

Cool Creek Park is a place you’ll want to go to with the kids or if you just want to take a leisurely walk through the woods. The four miles of trails are fairly flat and wide, making it easy enough for even young children to hike. Right next to the entrance of the park, there is also a playground, music pavilion, soccer field, softball field and basketball court. The Nature Center is educational for all ages, teaching the whole family about the importance of preserving plants and animals. The park also offers programs for children and adults throughout the year, most of which focus on nature or art.

Town Run Trail Park

5325 E. 96th St., Indianapolis

Although Town Run Trail Park is a bit off the beaten path, it is like a small, hidden gem that you’d drive right by if you didn’t know it was there. With the main trail following along the edge of the White River, you can see the water just between the trees. It seems to be a popular place for biking, so if you are hiking or jogging there, be cautious and ready to move out of the way. One thing about this park that stood out against other Indiana parks was that there are some man-made hills, which makes a bit more of a challenge if you’re up for it.

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