Pine Hills Nature Preserve

Shades State Park in Indiana has so many wonderful spots that it is easy to miss the little Nature Preserve at its boundary.
The 15 minute access trail is not really preparing the visitor for what happens at its end: A steep descent leads into the narrow Clift Creek valley, and you are greeted with steep, barren rock faces.

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The creek meanders around backbones with promising names like Devil’s Backbone that are at some points less than two meters wide but offer vertical drops of 30 meters and more. Crossing them in winter requires care.

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Even from below, these overhanging rock faces are vertiginous.

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Usually, the best time to visit Indiana landscapes is during the Fall, but this place is so complex that it is almost made for a reduced color palette.

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This ancient sandstone cliff looks tired. Who wouldn’t, after all these years.

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These rocks were left for a forgotten purpose, waiting now for time to end.

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