McCormick's Creek State Park, Spencer, IN: Trail 3 to the Frozen Waterfall

Remember that time I went to McCormick's Creek State Park to see the frozen waterfall, and just took pictures from the overlook because the stairs down had several inches of ice on them? Well, a couple of hours after getting home from that adventure, I remembered that Trail 3 leads right down to the creek. So the next day I went back for some more adventure!

It was -2 degrees Fahrenheit when I went here, and it has since warmed up considerably, so you might need to wait again to see this spectacle (although it looks like it might still be a little bit frozen as of yesterday, based on friends' adventures). Make sure to be prepared when you go hiking in really cold weather, snow, and ice. I wore a big scarf, two pairs of pants, hats, and gloves, and had on both my winter hiking snow boots (rated for -40 F) and my winter coat (which has a windbreaker layer). I managed to stay out here about an hour. Also remember that your camera and/or phone can freeze in cold weather. (Keep your phone warm next to your body - if you needed to call for help, you couldn't with a frozen phone!)

The trail down to Trail 3 starts at the Falls Overlook parking lot. Follow the stairs down, then turn left to follow the trail (instead of turning right, which would take you to the overlook and to the stairs immediately down to the creek). First, though, I stopped by the overlook again to see if anything looked changed from the day before.

I saw that some people had been here between yesterday and this morning, and had been playing on the ice. I could see several footprints around.

I also noted that the giant mass of icicle near the overlook was shearing pieces off that were landing on the creek below. Always be aware of icicles falling when you are winter hiking, especially if the sun is shining on the side you're on. Try not to stand underneath them in general. (Generally good hiking tip: be highly aware of your surroundings.)

Overlook done, I headed back toward the start of Trail 3. There wasn't much snow but it was a little bit slippery on the stairs down, even in my super-traction boots. I took it slow and held onto the railing.

This area has thwarted our hiking attempts before. We have tried coming down here a few times only to find the trail flooded, or at least very wet, so I haven't actually done the rest of Trail 3 past this point! To get to the waterfall, turn right. There was an established path through the snow that I just followed, although a few times I needed to go off on my own to get over logs (my legs are short).

After a few minutes of walking, the waterfall appeared, as well evidence of other people exploring. It was immediately apparent to me that the creek wasn't frozen all the way through because I could hear it rushing by under a thin coat of ice. Please always be careful when you are exploring on ice! You need at least 6 inches of ice to support a normal sized human; there was definitely not 6 inches of ice here. I decided to not cross the stream (which is pretty easy to do in summer, when you can take off your shoes and the water feels nice) and stay only on the trail side. I could get all the way to the waterfall by staying near or on the shoreline, climbing over some rocks and branches, and hardly walking on the ice. The ice I did walk on was next to the shoreline and looked about 4 inches thick and went all the way to the floor.

As I made my way closer, I began to see some footprint-sized holes made by the earlier explorers. (And look at that definitely-not-6-inches-thick ice.) Be careful! It's not very deep in the creek, but it'd be extremely cold to get wet and you'd have several minutes of hiking back to your car to get warm. Remember the stairs there were covered in inches of ice, making it hard to get back up immediately.

The waterfall was very fun to see from this new angle and I enjoyed listening to it while standing here.

I thought about getting closer to the falls, but underneath the overhang were a) giant icicles that could come down at any time and b) obviously not solid ice, as evidenced above. I stayed on my snow-free rock area away from the icicles.

Certainly an ice sculpture to enjoy!

Hopefully you got a chance to see this, or you will sometime later this winter or in the near future. There are lots of waterfalls around Indiana (some really neat shots coming from Cataract Falls this year, for instance), so if you have the chance, get out and explore!
McCormick's Creek State Park, Spencer, IN: Trail 3 to the Frozen Waterfall McCormick's Creek State Park, Spencer, IN: Trail 3 to the Frozen Waterfall Reviewed by Maria on 11:22:00 AM Rating: 5


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