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Knobstone Trail


J-Squared

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I am planning on hiking the Knobstone Trail this spring with a few friends. We hiked the AHT last year and had a great time. Any advice on which direction to hike? I have read that there are better views on the southern end so I was thinking north to south to save the best for last, so to speak. But it would be nice to end in an established campground where we could shower and have a night of cold beverages around the campfire before heading home the next morning. Any recommendations on shuttle drivers? I’ve found a couple advertised online. Thanks in advance for any ideas or suggestions!

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  • 3 months later...

I had the same thought when I did the KT, primarily because of being told of the views at the southern end. They are nice, but none of them timed-out with my needing a campsite at that hour. The lowest 6 miles were all Tornado'd up, with plenty of re-routes and I made a final decision to make a short road walk to the truck after reroute-frustration. That was the plan at least - what resulted was more confusion in the woods in and around Deam Lake. It turns out the very minor roads shown on the trail map do not correlate with the reality on the ground, and to make matters worse what roads do exist often go by two or more names. I asked some locals (who turned out not to have the slightest idea where area roads led), and some campers within Deam (who were all horseback riders and not much help). Supposedly that south end is cleaned up now.

That said, the North-to-South hike was enjoyable. In general, it did appear to get more 'grand' as the trail went south (though the trail around Elk Lake at the mid-section was superb). That may be because the first couple miles at the north end flew by so fast and the forest and trail were so serene, and the accumulating exhaustion only made the southern end 'seem' alot more severe.

The campground and lake at the north end are really nice. The area around Deam Lake is not geared for backpackers, but more so for horseback riders and RV campers. If you went South-to-North, you could really target a good ridge for the first night's camp and get those great views, and still have plenty of good trail ahead of you. Plus the better campground at the North to finish in. Going south it either seemed you had to stop with far too much daytime left, or push really hard one day (or both) to manage hitting one of the vista campsites.

If I go again I'll go South-North.

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J-Squared

We have actually already done the trail and ended up going south to north for the reasons you mentioned. We are glad that we did. The navigation wasn't too bad on the south end although we did follow a horse trail for the first mile or so. You can still see the tornado damage but the trail was fairly easy to follow. The trailhead for the newest reroute had just opened a couple days earlier. It was a tough hike for our group and only 2 of the 4 that started actually finished. It was nice to have the easier hiking at the end. I'm working on a trip report for the hike and will link to it when I'm done. I would encourage anyone thinking about hiking it to do it soon. Parts of it have been logged, one area is currently being logged and big sections are marked for future logging. Won't be much of a trail left when it's done...

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Glad to hear you made it! I'd like to try the South-North route. I do recall one other spot, perhaps just south of the New Chapel trailhead, where the inter-braiding with horse trails made the KT almost impossible to pick out once it did separate. Sometimes that confusion is nothing but clarity when coming from the other direction.

You're right about the logging. I remember a section 7 miles north of the southern end (roughly) where we emerged from the forest into a stump clearing that broke open the view for miles. Then I had associated it with tornado clean-up, but it sounds like general logging is more the issue. Also some work just south of Oxley.

Still, the trail is a must-see for Indiana. The trail leads through a relatively narrow band of forest, but you are seemingly quite remote from civilization which is surprising very near - you just cant see or hear it for the most part. It wouldn't take much logging to break open that little barrier of forest that shields the trail.

In a funny way some of the most sublime views were during the two power-line gaps. Breathtaking, even if man-made, and isolated, even if not wilderness.

Thanks for the update!

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