West Central Indiana: Hwy 234 & Sugar Creek Canyon + ADD NEW ROUTE
16 in Indiana Indiana85 Miles
on March 1, 2004
- Trip Toolbox
Start and end this ride in North Salem (Indiana) at the intersection of IN 236 and IN 75. There is a gas station with convenience store and cafe, a second café down the street, and the Red Dog Saloon: lots of places to meet your riding buddies. Go north on state route 75 from North Salem, and roller-coaster your way along Big Walnut Creek to IN 234 in Jamestown; then turn west. A lot of motorcycles have been crossing paths lately on Indiana 234. Things get interesting right away. Just try to resist wicking up the throttle on the first set of wide, flat sweepers after leaving Jamestown. Then, through Ladoga, it's more wide high speed sweepers: right, then left, then right - one after the other. Enjoy them now, because things are about to get a lot tighter. At the stop sign, cross US 231, then a few miles later, cross IN 47. Continue west on 234, and enter the "tingle" zone. This is a series of hilly, tight radius turns; all on a wonderfully smooth piece of tarmac. Each time your foot pegs scrape it, the back of your neck will tingle. If you notice, there's a neat old church, and a tidy old farm implement museum between the last right and left-hander. This is Freedom. What a great name for a town. Maybe you can make the stop; I never could. A little further west, pass by the entrance to Shades State Park. On the next section of 234, leave your "shades" in your pocket because the lanes narrow, the woods close in, and the road drops into Sugar Creek canyon. If it's early, the pavement may be wet. If you make it to the bottom intact, cross the bridge, turn left into the Deer Mill Covered Bridge parking area, and treat yourself to the view of this beautiful canyon along Sugar Creek. Mount up, and get back to 234 because there's more. Climb out of this tight wooded canyon heading west through one twisty after the other, being careful not to scrape any tree bark with your bar ends. Just hearing that throaty exhaust note of the big thumper reverberating though these woods reminds me of riding Skyline Boulevard heading for Alice's. Whoa! Reality check! A few roller coaster miles later, arrive at Hwy US 41 at the stop sign, and turn south. This is a beautiful section of old 41 as it meanders through wooded hills and past rock studded creeks. There are lots of Amish around these parts, and early Sunday, they're all headed for church in their horse-drawn buggies. So, watch out for them and anything the horse may leave behind. After a few miles, look for the IN 47 turnoff towards Turkey Run State Park and take a left there (head east on to IN 47). [A short, interesting side trip may be taken a few miles past the entrance to the park. Watch for a carved wooden sign on the left indicating the Narrows Covered Bridge. Turn off 47 for a few miles to find another fantastic view of Sugar Creek canyon at the Narrows.] If you're getting hungry, get back on IN 47 and head north past Turkey Run Golf Course and Waveland Lake and drive into the town of Waveland by turning right on IN 59 (now you're heading south) and look for Brenda's café - downtown on the left. Or, if you want wait to eat at the Red Dog Saloon, continue south on IN 59 through Waveland to the stop sign at IN 236. Here turn left on 236 heading east and take this all the way back to North Salem. There you can shut the bike down at the Red Dog Saloon where lunch is waiting. This trip is just under a hundred miles, and makes a nice early morning ride: Sunday or any day. So, here's hoping our motorcycles cross paths one day on Indiana 234.
This ride covers Hendricks, Putnam, Montgomery, Fountain and my favorite, Parke County. One can expect to see carved sandstone canyons, covered bridges, two state parks, quaint old towns with old fashioned saloons, cafes and soda fountains, horse drawn Amish buggies and on any Sunday, a lot of motorcycles. It's easy to see why IN 234 is becoming a favorite among motorcyclists: the scenery, places to stop and visit, and best of all, excellent pavement.
IN 234 is a rider's ride. Viewed in that respect, it has everything to offer: broad high speed sweepers; narrow, tight curves through wooded hills, and roller coaster-like rides across lush countryside; all this on pavement that would impress a California rider, which I was for almost twenty years.
After moving to Indiana, my wife and I wanted to continue our tradition of occasional Sunday morning rides. Besides smooth, twisty pavement, another prerequisite was a café that we could stop for breakfast. This ride offers both. I suppose the tourist in us likes to stop and check out places like North Salem with its quaint antique shops and old fashioned sundries store complete with original soda fountain. And there's the Red Dog Saloon, a favorite local watering hole and meeting place. Other "tourist" attractions include Ladoga, where one can enjoy viewing the graceful old Victorian homes along 234 - some restored; some not. Shades State Park is canoe country - Sugar Creek runs right through it. There's great camping here, but the best way to view the entire Sugar Creek canyon is by canoe or kayak. The river trip from Shades to Turkey Run is about four easy hours. Rentals are available at the Hwy 234 bridge crossing Sugar Creek. Turkey Run State Park is like nowhere else in the state of Indiana. There's great camping here too, but stop at the Turkey Run Inn for a great breakfast (open at 7 am) or lunch. If it's Sunday, the all-you-can-eat brunch is terrific. Not to worry, you can walk off that brunch on the trails in the park. Don't miss Sunset Point and the old Log Church. Then, hike down to the river, and cross the suspension footbridge. Turkey Run State Park is a very special place. If you golf, Turkey Run Golf Course is one of the most challenging in the state. You won't believe this place. Waveland Lake recreation area has great fishing, boating and camping, and the hamlet of Waveland has Brenda's Café with early Sunday morning breakfast!
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