MARSHALL — Social distancing doesn’t always mean staying indoors.
Two new hiking excursions have been offered as a challenge for outdoor enthusiasts this summer by area state parks, allowing citizens to get outside and exercise while following safety guidelines during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The first, The 5-Mile Challenge at Turkey Run State Park, challenges hikers to trek some of its most rugged trails all at once — three, four, five, nine and 10 — which comprise five and a half miles of the park’s total trail distances.
“Complete the designated loop in one consecutive hike and take pictures of certain locations along the way,” staffers announced on the parks’ joint social media page. “Show your pictures to park staff at the Turkey Run Nature Center or at the Shades State Park gatehouse to earn a sticker for $1.”
Turkey Run features multiple unique locations within its boundaries which hikers and sightseers have photographed for decades.
The 5-Mile Challenge at Turkey Run features the Suspension Bridge, the Ice Box, Falls Canyon, Boulder Canyon, Camel’s Back, the Punch Bowl, the historic Lusk Home and the Coal Mine. It includes 1,500 man-made steps and one ladder.
The total elevation climb for The 5-Mile Challenge totals 969 feet, with its highest point coming at the Camel’s Back — 683 feet above sea level.
The second challenge, dubbed The 6 Ravine Challenge, utilizes Shades’ many waterways as highlights and photography opportunities.
The challenge travels along trails one, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and “the backpack trail,” for a total of four and a half miles.
Locations featured along the challenge’s path are Shawnee Canyon, Kickapoo Ravine, Frisz Ravine, Kintz Ravine, Prospect Point, Inspiration Point, Silver Cascade Falls, the Devil’s Punchbowl and Red Fox Ravine.
It includes 570 man-made steps and three ladders, with a total elevation climb of 1,110 feet. Its highest point comes between Kickapoo and Frisz ravines at 803 feet above sea level.
Photos shown to park staff may also be posted on various social media platforms with hashtags #5MC and #6RC.
Other challenges in the state park system around Indiana include:
• 3 Dune Challenge at Indiana Dunes State Park
• Four Falls Challenge at Clifty Falls State Park
• Hell’s Point Challenge at Pokagon State Park
• 9 Lakes Challenge at Chain O’Lakes State park
There is also a State Park Fitness Challenge that can be completed at any state park in Indiana.
“Between March 1 and Nov. 30, we invite you to walk, bike, paddle or swim at least 25 miles inside one or more of Indiana’s state parks or lakes,” as stated on the Department of Natural Resources website.
“Combine being outdoors with a little bit of exercise — and surprise yourself with how great it makes you feel.”
Each challenge encourages hiking, biking and water activities as a way to get oneself and children outdoors, which results in a “healthy parks system” as well.
A list of children’s activities called “Indiana Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights” provides ideas for families taking on the outdoor challenges. The list includes fishing, hunting, tree climbing, discovering plants and wildlife, planting seeds and sharing nature with friends.
To learn more about the state’s many parks and current challenges, visit www.in.gov/dnr/parklake/5883.htm, or contact park naturalists at 765-597-2635 (Turkey Run) or 765-435-2810 (Shades).