Indian Cave State Park

I spent part of the July 4 weekend at Indian Cave State Park – a bit north of Falls City in extreme SE Nebraska – a KC Adventure Club outing.  I had never been there before but it proved interesting and will get a return visit.

The park borders the Missouri River and some areas were closed due to flooding, including Indian Cave itself (apparently more of a hollowed-out area in the sandstone than a real cave).  There are some old petroglyphs and I’m a sucker for interesting rock formations so I wanted to see it. The road leading to it was closed and under much water but the park people told me we could still hike to it.  That proved to be incorrect.

We intended to set up a base camp Friday evening at one of the sites along a trail atop the bluff and do day hikes from there.  We changed our mind once we started up the bluff and  realized what we would be up against going up and down that bluff multiple times over the weekend, carrying packs and water, in sweltering heat and humidity, with clouds of bugs accompanying us.

We settled for a site along the road but 200 or 300 yards off the road.  We couldn’t see or hear anyone else so it was isolated enough and we had a spur leading to the Rock Bluff trail nearby.

The camp site

Saturday morning we hiked down toward Indian Cave on the bluff-top trail and got some great pictures of the scenery and the swollen river.

Looking north from near the top of the bluff

Looking SE from the overlook almost above the cave. A breached levee and lots of flooded farmland are visible, along with some irrigation equipment that won't be needed for a while.

Our trail back was in the relatively flat area behind the bluff.  The trails here remind me a lot of Weston Bend except these are on a larger scale.  The climb to the top of the bluff here, for example, is about 400 feet (quite a climb for this flatlander) and the trails run for several miles along the bluffs.  We got back to camp before it got really hot and had lunch then read books, napped, played cards, and just passed some time.

Saturday afternoon we drove up to the north end of the park where they have some old buildings preserved from the defunct town of St. Deroin and some historical reenactments: a blacksmith, candle maker, broom maker, soap maker, and the old school house complete with teacher. It was kind of interesting.  I bought a bar of Granny’s Lye Soap but haven’t used it yet.Saturday evening we went for a short hike on Rock Bluff.  We found a really cool camping area that would be good for a group – several picnic tables, fire rings, and open-on-one-side huts called Adirondack shelters – in a large clearing.  There are even his & her outhouses that looked like they hadn’t been used for awhile.  Had good views from here too.

Saturday night we drove over to the RV camping area and used their showers.  It sure felt good to wash off the day’s grunge.  Then we headed for the amphitheater to watch a movie! – an old episode of Marty Stauffer’s Wild America.  Then “home” to bed.

Sometime early Sunday we had a thunderstorm.  This was the third time my tent had been rained-on but this was the heaviest so far and it held up fine.  It rained with varying intensity for several hours, finally letting up about 8AM.  We knew the hiking trails would be dangerously muddy so we packed up fast and came home early.

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About Michael R

I enjoy hiking, landscaping with native plants, nature photography, dark chocolate, fine dining, good movies, and old jazz.
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