Traveler: Local Labyrinths

Harmonist Labyrinth

Courtesy New Harmony CVB

Labyrinth walks have been used around the world for more than 4,000 years as a way to refocus, meditate, and heal. Indiana has dozens of them, as well as an expert: John Ridder, an Indianapolis resident who’s a founding member of The Labyrinth Society and a builder of these serpentine paths. Unlike a maze, there are no wrong turns or gimmicks in a labyrinth, just a single path in and back out. “The beauty of the labyrinth is that you approach it entirely on your own terms,” Ridder says. “You simply stand at the entrance and follow the path at your own pace.” The repetitive structure can quiet the mind, ease the breath, and relieve anxiety. This summer, consider these four spirit-soothing destinations. 

The Man in the Maze Labyrinth

The Man in the Maze Labyrinth — Wabash

Open daily dawn to dusk, 

At the petite private park in Charley Creek Gardens, just beyond the waterfall and hedge maze, you can tread to the center of The Man in the Maze, which is not a maze at all, but a Native American–style labyrinth. “The design provides a connection to the Native American heritage of the area,” says director Kelly Smith, noting that the limestone crane medallion in the center is a nod to the bygone Miami Tribe. “The goal is to offer a sense of peace, repose, and sanctuary.”

John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge Labyrinth

John T. Myers Pedestrian Bridge Labyrinth — Lafayette

Open 24/7,

Get lost in thought on this pathway at Riehle Plaza—minding the gap between West Lafayette and Lafayette proper. A water feature near a contemplative walk is always nice, and here, the Wabash River provides an ample source flowing beneath the Medieval-style labyrinth, built by Ridder’s company, Paxworks. This is a replica of the world’s most well-walked labyrinth: the one in Chartres Cathedral near Paris, a classic 11-circuit style with a six-point rosette in the center.

Harmonist Labyrinth

Harmonist Labyrinth — New Harmony

Open daily dawn to dusk,

Not to be confused with the Cathedral Labyrinth in downtown New Harmony (the tiny town actually has two), the Harmonist is located farther south on Main Street at the Labyrinth State Memorial. This picturesque, privet hedge–style labyrinth was originally planted by the Harmony Society in 1815 as a path to enlightenment. After being re-created in 1939 as a maze, the Harmonist Labyrinth was restored in 2008 to its original unicircular path, complete with the grotto in the center.

Smale Riverfront
Park Labyrinth

Smale Riverfront Park Labyrinth — Cincinnati

Open daily 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.,

This large-scale, Chartres-influenced design presents a steady walking path along the Ohio River, buffered by wispy grasses and brawny views of the Roebling Suspension Bridge and downtown Cincinnati. Clear your mind as you spiral to the center and back again. Then explore the rest of the park. This 45-acre playscape between the Great American Ball Park and the Paul Brown Stadium includes a hand-carved carousel, interactive fountains, adult-sized slides, and the world’s largest chime foot piano.