Opened to the public on July 21, 2021, W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park is one of Hendricks County, Indiana's newest parks. The park already contains several popular amenities, and in the coming years, it will double in size.
Located at 4521 Gibbs Road, the park is located within Avon town limits, has a Danville address and is a stone's throw from Plainfield. It is currently 70 acres in size, and the Hendricks County Park Board owns an additional 70 acres adjoining the park's western border that will be developed in the coming years.
I work for Hendricks County Parks & Recreation, and we operate W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park, so allow me to take you on a quick tour before you go explore the park for yourself!
(Insider tip: Hendricks County Parks & Recreation also operates McCloud Nature Park outside of North Salem. Click here for the complete beginner's guide to McCloud.)
W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park boasts two ponds totaling 5.5 acres, a 30-foot-tall hill, wooded areas and prairie and turf grasses. An intermittent creek also runs through the property, as do nearly two miles of trails consisting of crushed stone and natural surfaces.
The hill, which was created using the soil excavated from the ponds, has benches and young trees awaiting those who hike to the top of it, either for the view or as part of the disc golf course. When it snows, the hill becomes one of the premier sledding locations in Hendricks County.
An ADA-accessible dock sits on the larger of the two ponds and includes a couple of picnic tables where people can sit and relax and enjoy the view. We anticipate the dock will also be available for fishing in 2023 and beyond. More on that in a moment.
Two large rentable pavilions provide shelter from the elements and ideal spots to hold gatherings. Bluegill Shelter sits next to the ponds and can hold up to 100 people. Firefly Shelter is on the north side of the park and can hold up to 48 people.
Both pavilions sit on ADA-accessible concrete pads near paved parking lots and are equipped with built-in charcoal grills, electrical outlets and picnic tables. To learn more about the shelters, including how to reserve them, click here.
There is a nature-themed playground on the north side of the park near Firefly Shelter that has two sets of playground equipment -- one for 2-to-5-year-olds and the other for bigger kids. There are also swings in the playground, and all of it sits on engineered wood fiber mulch that compacts well for wheelchairs but also provides a softer surface and no splinters in the event a child falls down.
Behind the playground is a nature play area where kids can use natural materials like branches and logs to create and play.
Our naturalists host family programming and special events on a regular basis at various locations around the park.
Disc Golf Course
W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park is home to a Par 60, 18-hole disc golf course. It is open from dawn to dusk daily, is available to all members of the public and is free to play. There are no tee time reservations or required apparel.
The course has white (beginners / recreational) and blue (intermediate) tee boxes, and it navigates through native prairie grasses, wooded areas and the 30-foot-tall hill.
Hendricks County Parks & Recreation worked closely with the Hendricks County Disc Golf Club to design and construct the course, and we continue to work with the club to develop and maintain it.
The club regularly hosts disc golf tournaments at Gibbs, and they provide disc golf programs through the parks department for people who want to learn about the sport.
There is even a disc library where people can borrow a disc or two for free, try the course and return the discs when they're done, as well as a "tossed and found" box to deposit any discs that you might find along the course that were lost by their owners.
I don't mean to brag, but we are frequently told by disc golfers that the course at Gibbs is among the best in the area. The course is highly rated on UDisc.
In the fall of 2021, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Fish and Wildlife stocked the ponds at Gibbs with thousands of bass, bluegill and redear fingerlings, plus young channel catfish. Those fish have continued to grow, and they should reach a harvestable size in the spring or summer of 2023.
People will be able to fish from the banks or from the ADA-accessible dock on the large pond.
There will be no charge to fish at the park, making the park a rarity in the area by providing free access to fishing and allowing people to keep what they catch. Fishing licenses, bag limits, size limits and all other Indiana fishing laws will be enforced by Indiana DNR conservation officers.
Park staff plan to utilize the park and its ponds for fishing programs and fishing derbies in the future.
W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park is still in its infancy, and the parks department has plans for continued development and expansion.
Portable restrooms are currently in place at the park, but there are plans in the works to construct modern restrooms. Park guests can look forward to improvements to and expansion of the trails -- including an easier way to access the top of the hill -- and increased accessibility throughout the park for varying levels of mobility.
A dock will be added to the smaller pond in the future, and attention has already been turned to the development of the additional 70 acres owned by the Park Board.
A maintenance hub will be constructed on those currently undeveloped 70 acres, which will allow the maintenance crew to maintain and develop the park a lot more easily.
The consensus of parks department leadership is that the undeveloped acreage will be used to create trails and for reforestation. Nothing is set in stone yet, but the overarching idea is for the eastern half of the park -- the half that is open to the public now -- to be home to the popular attractions while the western half -- the currently undeveloped acreage -- will eventually provide guests with trails, wooded areas, solitude, serenity and a sense of oneness with nature, much like the atmosphere at the park's big sister, McCloud Nature Park.
Come visit W.S. Gibbs Memorial Park and let us know what your favorite part of it is!