“As you’re paddling down, you can just smell the freshness of the country air. You hear frogs croaking and crickets chirping. You’re paddling down through these big sandstone bluffs through the trees. It’s beautiful,” states a recent canoeist. Blue herons grace the river with their ungainly beauty, and bald eagles, recently returned to the area, roost and fish. Lucky bird lovers can spot huge eagle aeries, or nests, high in the beech-maple forest.
Sugar Creek is one of Indiana's finest treasures. In some places the creek flows in broad open valleys where, in cutting downward since the Wisconsonian glacier left the land 17,000 years ago, it had to cut only soft glacial deposits. In other places the creek cut down into sandstone and siltstone bedrock, creating the scenic bluffs and canyons that make the Shades and Turkey Run State Parks famous.
Beautiful sandstone cliffs, unique hemlock groves and world class fossils make Sugar Creek a fantastic place to visit again and again. It is a clear running stream which travels in a generally northeast to southwest direction as it cuts across west-central Indiana. The source lies in Tipton County and the entire river length to the Wabash confluence is approximately 90 miles.
The native peoples used Sugar Creek for navigation to access sugar trees and good hunting. Because of its swift water, Sugar Creek was important to the early pioneers, too, for navigation and as a source of power. The Woolen, Lusk and Yountsville Mills were located along the stream and their remains can still be seen today.
Sugar Creek is not Indiana's fastest nor is it our most challenging canoe water, but it is generally conceded to be the most beautiful stream in the State. It runs either through or along a Girl Scout Camp, Pine Hills Nature Preserve, Shades State Park, Turkey Run State Park and Allee Memorial Forest. Mississippian and Pennsylvanian sedimentary rocks have been exposed by the erosive action of the stream. An added attraction in the area is the many covered bridges over Sugar Creek and other streams in the area.
Sugar Creek has more than 70 species of fish, almost all the river’s original complement, and is the best smallmouth fishing stream in the state, says Nathan Mullendore, executive director of Crawfordsville-based Friends of Sugar Creek. The hilly land along the river is still mostly forested, and it shelters rare forest birds like the Cerulean warbler. The forest is rich in white pine, Eastern hemlock and Canada yew, ice-age holdovers that are rare in today’s Indiana.
Sugar creek, one creek connecting two beautiful State parks.
Information for this page taken from The Natural History of Indiana, Friends of Sugar Creek, and Outfitters website