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Fresh Air & Adventure in East Central Indiana

The region offers a wealth of outdoor recreation havens.

By Kevin Litwin on May 15, 2023

Kayaking in East Central Indiana
Jeff Adkins

Are you ready to go outdoors and explore what East Central Indiana nature has to offer? Whenever you want, you’ll find plenty of things to do both on land and on the water.

Residents and visitors to East Central Indiana can enjoy a wide variety of outdoor activities in all four seasons, with many opportunities and venues for swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, biking, hiking, horseback riding, and other sports.

A major destination in the region is Cardinal Greenway, which features 62 asphalt-paved miles of biking and walking trail stretching from Marion to Richmond.

Cardinal Greenway is the longest rail trail in Indiana and designated as a U.S. National Recreation Trail. Its headquarters are in an old train depot in downtown Muncie, says Jeff Bryan, director of visitor experience at Visit Muncie Inc. The Greenway is ideal for walking, jogging, bicycling and equestrian use, with many people using the historic Wysor Street Depot in Muncie as a starting and endpoint for their jaunts.

Biking in East Central Indiana
Rebecca & Daniel Jacobson

Reservoirs and a Gorge

Another recreation hot spot in Muncie is Prairie Creek Reservoir, highlighted by a 1,200-acre lake for boating, swimming, kayaking and fishing (including ice fishing). In addition, Prairie Lake has hiking/biking trails, ATV trails, cabins and campgrounds, and the park hosts concerts, festivals and triathlons.

“The reservoir is designated as a park that is owned by the City of Muncie, so Prairie Lake is the second-largest body of water in a city park in the United States – behind only New York’s Central Park,” Bryan says.

Also in Muncie is White River Greenway, which features plenty of outdoor recreation options along the White River.

In Richmond, Middlefork Reservoir has both a lake and a stream, and visitors can enjoy boating and fishing along with canoes, kayaks and paddle boats that can be rented. Middlefork also has trails, a playground and Hill’s Bark Park for dogs.

Also in Richmond is Whitewater Valley Gorge Park, a 100-acre refuge with nature trails and a 3.5-mile gorge that ranges from 50 to 80 feet deep. And for those who like a bit of extreme adventure, the Whitewater River in Wayne and Randolph counties is known as the swiftest river in Indiana because it falls an average of 6 feet per mile.

Hiking in East Central Indiana
Jeff Adkins

Duck and Largemouth Bass

In New Castle, a park that continues to grow in visitor volume is Summit Lake State Park, which welcomed 394,000 people in 2021 compared to 230,000 in 2019. The 2,600-acre outdoor refuge has an 800-acre lake along with 120 campsites.

“We get a lot of visitors from Muncie, Fishers, Carmel, Anderson, Noblesville and Indianapolis as well as other communities around the Indy area,” says Nikki LeCrone, property manager for Summit Lake State Park. “This park is known for waterfowl sightings, so we have many Audubon groups that come out, along with general birders who like to see all the varieties we have.”

LeCrone says duck sightings are especially popular in December and January at Summit Lake, when migratory ducks come flying through.

“Summit Lake is also a premium fishing spot with good-sized largemouth bass, bluegill and crappie, and the lake was recently restocked with walleye, perch and catfish,” she says. “In addition, the lake is great for canoeing and kayaking. We continue to work on two interactive kayak trails that opened in 2023, with each trail measuring about 3 miles.”

The lake is categorized as idle-only, meaning that motorboats cannot surpass speeds of 5 mph. LeCrone says that’s because Summit Lake is manmade and has lots of trees and debris under the water that can damage boat propellers.

“No jet skiing is allowed, but a swimming area opens from Memorial Day weekend until Labor Day,” she says. “And for people who like to hike, there are six different walking trails, including a stone trail that is Americans with Disabilities Act friendly.”

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Array ( [0] => 160571 [1] => 160549 [2] => 154925 [3] => 111972 [4] => 111961 [5] => 111954 [6] => 157090 [7] => 79922 )

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