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Birthday In The Falls

A few weeks ago we ventured out to Clifty Falls State Park in Indiana for Mel’s birthday gift. I had organized an entire weekend of camping and hiking for us and Atlas.

I even designed a fun little “ticket” for Mel to scan for admission before we left…… but she forgot that.

Oh well! The adventure needed to continue!

Before I get too far into this, let me go over how I chose Clifty Falls. There were a few main factors I needed to consider while I selected a destination:

  • my client schedules - I didn’t want to have to cancel or move a lot of clients should Saturday be their only availability

  • location - I wanted this to be within a 2-3 hour drive in case the aforementioned consideration didn’t work in my favor so we could still get there midday

  • dog friendly - we love travelling with Atlas so he was coming with us

  • ease of camping - I wanted to see which locations might’ve made different aspects easier like food or camp site

  • chance of seeing the leaves change

I also wanted a waterfall but that wasn’t so much of a non-negotiable.

With all of these considerations in mind, I looked around to see what I could find. There were a few places we’d already been but I thought it would be more fun to try somewhere new. After several hours of searching, I found Clifty Falls and it’s adjacent town, Madison, IN. This checked off all of the boxes. Because it was so close (I’m talking 5 minutes) to Madison, it took away the concern of us having to figure out camp kitchen/food especially since we were only there for a night. It was only about 1.5 hours away, which was a super easy drive and still let me take a morning with clients that Saturday. Dogs were welcome on the trails and at the campground so Atlas was also taken care of. AND, it was a bit further south when lengthened our chance to see the leaves! Wins across the board.

Driving from Cincinnati to Clifty Falls was a breeze! With 71S open across the bridge now, it really saved us about 20 minutes and the rest of the drive was great. It took us along the Ohio River towards the end along some more backroads that reminded me of where I grew up.

To get to the park, you have to drive right through Madison and once you get to the park entrance, it’s immediately up a hill, passing a waterfall on the way and engulfed by trees and leaves overhead.

The campground takes a few turns to get to once in the park, but check in was easy and the sites were all open and flat but also well-spaced from adjacent sites. We parked and set up camp before going on any hikes. The last thing we wanted after a long hike was to come back to an empty campsite and have to do it all then!

This trip we opted for the bigger tent since we had the car and the time to set it up. We knew it would be more comfortable with Atlas than the 2-person (though, yes, we’ve managed with Atlas in that before) and it also allowed us to bring the air mattresses. Let’s be honest, we were glamping, not camping.

Once camp was set up, we ventured out to the #5 trailhead. This would lead us down to trail 2, which followed the creek bed all the way to Clifty Falls.... at least that’s what we thought.

The trail followed the gorge most of the way in until we reach a set of stairs signaling our descent. From here down it was steep. There were switchbacks that helped out a bit but we were also rushed by a family with kids and a dog so we ended up stepping aside for them to pass and so we could get back to our leisurely pace.

At the bottom, we started the beginning of our creekbed journey letting Atlas play in and enjoy the water! He goes absolutely crazy around water so we thought it might be easiest to let him enjoy it here to make the rest of the home easier! Our plan both worked and backfired simultaneously. There was too much water for it to fully work as the trail went on….lol.

Nevertheless, we continued!

The trail literally followed the creek bed the entire way until we were scaling large rocks near the bottom of the waterfall only to be greeting with a sign that read “NO ONE BEYOND THIS LINE”. Obviously we stopped for a photoshoot instead. For as arduous as it was walking along loose rocks the entire time, the trail was still a lot of fun!

But then we knew we had to walk back and home up the gorge. Did we manage? Yes. Was it getting dark and a tad difficult? Also yes. Either way, we did it and got back before dark.

For dinner that night, we went into town for pizza! We found a place that we could order online to take back to the campsite so we did just that. We definitely both over and underestimate how hungry we were as we devoured both the pizza and our bag of Doritos but it was so enjoyable around the fire and just what we needed after a long hike.

Fire? Did I say fire? Well, what I meant to say, was pit that was sometimes aflame and most often not. I spent the entirety of the night trying to light this damn fire. The wood from the camp store was damp, unbeknownst to me, which proved incredibly difficult and ultimately a failure. That must’ve been why we saw two campers leave a bundle on their picnic table as they packed up camp and left…

Regardless, we survived and shortly after it got dark headed to bed. We were a little concerned about the temperature but it ended up not being too bad once you got in your sleeping bag. And, besides each of us waking up to check on Atlas during the night, I’d say we ended up pretty well-rested!

We took an extremely slow morning enjoying our camp muffins and making fresh coffee for Mel before packing everything up and hitting one last very easy trail that overlooked the falls before driving back. What a solid weekend!

Until next time!

Live your life.

Stay stoked.

Take control.

🤙🏼 Alli


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