Fort Harrison State Park is named after the 23rd US President Benjamin Harrison, who began his political career in Indianapolis and is buried in the city cemetery. The former US Army base, known locally as Fort Ben, has now been recommissioned as a popular park providing a wide variety of recreational and leisure activities.
Covering 690 hectares of grassy slopes, wildflower meadows, woodland and streams, the park provides a selection of trails ranging in length from around 1.6 to 4 kilometres. Explore the area on foot for the best chance of spotting deer, beavers, squirrels, frogs and even turtles as you pass through the varied terrain. Alternatively, bring your bike to venture further afield on the network of paved roads, or follow the Harrison Trace Trail around Delaware Lake and past the duck pond, where you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a blue heron perched silently at the water’s edge.
Increase your horsepower with a trip to the Saddle Barns, where you can hire your own mount or take a ride in a haycart. Riding lessons are available for different levels of experience, so even if you’re a novice it’s an exciting option as well as an alternative way to explore the park.
Fishing at Fall Creek is another favourite pastime here. Permits can be picked up from the park office before you settle down to wait for the fish to take the bait. There’s also an 18-hole golf course at the Fort Harrison State Park Inn and Golf Resort where you can test your handicap.
The Museum of 20th Century Warfare reminds visitors of the origins of the park. This small but comprehensive collection of military artifacts is housed in former army buildings in the historic Camp Glenn area of the park, and has a particularly impressive collection of soldiers’ uniforms, as well as a scale model of the USS Indianapolis. Keen military historians should check the changing programme of temporary exhibitions before their visit.
Fort Harrison State Park is open all year round, but overnight camping is not permitted at any time. Admission to the museum is included in the park admission charge.