Visitors to Turkey Run State Park in western Indiana face having to go the long way to reach many of its scenic hiking trails because a 202-foot-long suspension bridge is closed until damage from spring flooding damage can be repaired.
The 95-year-old, wooden-plank pedestrian bridge over Sugar Creek had its structural supports cracked when they were hit by a wayward tree during April flooding. Nearly $220,000 has been set aside by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for repairs that officials hope will be completed by Labor Day.
Some of the park’s visitors are disappointed when they arrive and encounter the closure on their way to trails in the park’s northern half, which include 100-foot sandstone cliffs and deep canyons.
“We probably would have done something different,” Kelly Gilliland said as she stood with family members, looking at her map and trying to reroute her way to the trails.
Turkey Run park, about 30 miles northeast of Terre Haute, is among the most popular state parks, drawing nearly 725,000 visitors during the 2011-12 fiscal year, according to state officials.
Barbara Tibbets, the park’s interpretive naturalist, the closure has led many visitors to check out a trail that covers much of its southern sections.
“It was an unknown trail basically, and now it’s starting to show signs of wear and tear from all the foot traffic, she said.
The park’s northern section is still accessible from a covered bridge on the park’s eastern edge, with a shuttle being provided from the nature center to the covered bridge while the suspension bridge undergoes repairs.