Trail Review: Charlestown State Park: Trail 7

Length: 1 mile (not including the walk to the trailhead)

Difficulty: Easy on the island, moderately strenuous getting to and from the trailhead

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Advertisements for Rose Island

Highlights:

  • The remains of the 1920’s Rose Island amusement park
  • Markers showing the depth of the 1937 flood that demolished the park
  • The 1912 Portersville Bridge
  • Stream-bank fishing along the Ohio River

Options:

The bridge to Trail 7 is accessible only by hiking a portion of Trail 3. You can take the steep paved road or a more rustic hike through the woods. The entire Trail 3 loop will add 2.1 miles to your total hike if you decide to take one half of it on the way out to Trail 7 and the other route on the way back.

Trail 7 itself is more for meandering than taking a straightforward hike. There are several ways you can go as you explore the theme park that once was.

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Walkway of Roses

Best For:

History buffs and meandering explorers

Our Experience:

Trail 7 around Rose Island is fascinating not for the riverfront location or natural features, but for the rich history that you can still sense in this place. This is a truly distinctive pick if you’re looking for a trail that will depart from the standard Indiana routes through forest and stream.

Getting to Trail 7 is easy thanks to the steep downhill angle of the paved portion of Trail 3. However, keep in mind that you’ll have to head back up that hill on the way out unless you take the longer loop through the woods. Steep inclines are not my friend, so I did not love the way back, but it was still worth it for the fun discoveries on the island.

Charlestown State Park
The remains of the Rose Island pool

There’s very little remaining of the original structures on Rose Island, so you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting a full ghost town. The pool is the most intact feature there. All that remains of the dance hall is what looks like a crumbling stone chimney, and the Walkway of Roses is nothing more than a series of arches over the path. Still, the bit of cage that’s left from the bear’s enclosure at the zoo, and the remainders of pillars at the dock are intriguing when you use a little imagination.

Charlestown State Park
Crank-powered audio boxes

Voice boxes and signs throughout the park offer a great look into the past. Turn the crank to hear period music and the voices of former visitors as they reminisce about their time on the island, meeting girls at the pool or enjoying fried chicken in the restaurant. Enlargements of ads and newspaper clippings adorn many of the signs, providing a great glimpse at the excitement that once surrounded this riverside destination.

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