Eagle Creek Park
Natural Areas: Eagle Creek Park
Eagle Creek Park is a very large municipal park that encompasses much of the upper reaches of Eagle Creek Reservoir. The vast majority of the park’s visitors stick to the developed areas in the eastern part of the park. Numerous trails meander over the property, but most don’t venture far from overt human influence – roads, buildings, fences, etc.
The park is a favorite of local birders; the size of the reservoir, along with the (virtual) lack of boats, makes it very attractive to migrating waterfowl. Many birders favor a walk that leads them north from the ornithology center, then west, and back around on a dike that encloses a portion of the reservoir. Adjacent mudflats, islands and open water host shorebirds and waterfowl, while the wooded trails immediately north and south of the ornithology center afford views into the tops of trees rooted far below along the water’s edge, which helps minimize neck strain when searching for those species that prefer higher perches. Beyond that, your best bet on the park’s east side is to ask for a trail map at the gate and explore.
My own preference is to visit the Starling Nature Preserve, which lies on the western side of the lake and is also good for birding. A trail from the parking area crosses over a small creek and then climbs through relatively isolated woods to the adjacent Eagles Crest Recreation Area. There is what looks like an old road that shadows the shoreline, and a series of trails that climb up from that road along adjacent ridgelines that rise to the west. Many of those side trails connect to each other on higher ground, and some also connect via more-or-less informal paths to more developed areas to the west. The shoreline trail continues at least as far as a rowing area, perhaps farther informally.
Marion County. From I-65 Exit 124, west one quarter mile on 71st St to the gate. (Fee)
GPS: N 39 52.658 W 86 17.706
Marion County. From I-465 Exit 19 (northbound only), west 0.8 miles on 56th St to the marked entrance on the right. (Fee)
GPS: N 39 51.151 W 86 17.532
STARLING/WEST SIDE TRAILS
Marion County. From Lafayette Rd X 71st St, just east of I-65 Exit 124, go north one mile on Lafayette Road to Traders Lane, then left 0.45 miles to Wilson, and then right 0.45 miles to a small parking area on the left.
GPS: N 39 53.168 W 86 18.835
Facilities: Nature Center, bathrooms, water, shelters, other facilities in season
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Nearby Natural Areas (miles)