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Knobstone Trail April 2015


J-Squared
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I realize it's June already but I've been a little slow at getting a trip report together. I have a group of women that I hike with and while I've backpacked several times before, they had their first adventure with me last year on the Adventure Hiking Trail in southern Indiana. Despite that being a tough first backpack hike, they all enjoyed it and wanted to do another. We decided that tackling the longest trail in Indiana was the thing to try.

As it turns out, this was a little bigger challenge than anticipated by a couple of our hiking group. We started with 4 but only 2 were able to finish. The trail was exactly as we've read, lots of ups and downs. We knew this going in but the addition of lots of downed trees, wet, muddy conditions and difficulty in following the trail in spots made it more challenging. For the most part, it was well marked. Better than the AHT had been the prior year. We only had problems when we had to go around large areas of downed trees. We only had one time that we completely lost the trail and ended up bushwhacking for over a mile in some of the toughest terrain according to our guide book. Not fun, but we used our topo maps, compass, gps and common sense to get ourselves back on track.

Things we like about the trail included the views from the ridges and the established campsites with fire rings already in place. We only actually built a fire one night because it was windy most nights and we didn't want to have to worry about embers blowing onto our tents, or into the woods. As stated before, the trail was well marked for the most part. Our weather could not have been better for spring hiking! The wildflowers were beautiful and some of the trees were in bloom.

Things we didn't like were the lack of maintenance on some of the steep parts. There were landscape timbers held in place by metal rods (for steps) but many of the them were missing or had moved around to where the rods were sticking up and creating a serious trip hazard. I'd hate to think of what would happen if someone lost their balance and fell on one the rods. Another things we didn't like was that the nice views and "wow" moments came few and far between. The biggest downer for us was the logging taking place. Hiking through areas that were clear cut was very disheartening and it was especially sad to see all the areas currently marked for logging. One of my favorite hiking areas and our favorite campsite was towards the northern end in a mature pine and hardwood forest. This was one of best maintained sections and even had some wood carvings from trees that had fallen. Sadly, almost every mature hardwood tree was marked for logging.

Over-all, I'd definitely recommend this trail for midwestern backpackers. How can you not do one of the longest trails in Indiana?! It had it's moments but if you're going to travel far, I can think of better trails, even in Indiana. If I were going to pick one to do again, I'd probably chose the Adventure Hiking Trail. But I can definitely say that I am glad we did the Knobstone. I did a full write-up of our hike on a blog that includes lots of pictures. I'll add a link to it. If linking is a no-no, let me know and I'll remove it.

https://hiddenpines53.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/knobstone-trail-thru-hike-april-26th-april-30th-2015/

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I realize it's June already but I've been a little slow at getting a trip report together. I have a group of women that I hike with and while I've backpacked several times before, they had their first adventure with me last year on the Adventure Hiking Trail in southern Indiana. Despite that being a tough first backpack hike, they all enjoyed it and wanted to do another. We decided that tackling the longest trail in Indiana was the thing to try.

As it turns out, this was a little bigger challenge than anticipated by a couple of our hiking group. We started with 4 but only 2 were able to finish. The trail was exactly as we've read, lots of ups and downs. We knew this going in but the addition of lots of downed trees, wet, muddy conditions and difficulty in following the trail in spots made it more challenging. For the most part, it was well marked. Better than the AHT had been the prior year. We only had problems when we had to go around large areas of downed trees. We only had one time that we completely lost the trail and ended up bushwhacking for over a mile in some of the toughest terrain according to our guide book. Not fun, but we used our topo maps, compass, gps and common sense to get ourselves back on track.

Things we like about the trail included the views from the ridges and the established campsites with fire rings already in place. We only actually built a fire one night because it was windy most nights and we didn't want to have to worry about embers blowing onto our tents, or into the woods. As stated before, the trail was well marked for the most part. Our weather could not have been better for spring hiking! The wildflowers were beautiful and some of the trees were in bloom.

Things we didn't like were the lack of maintenance on some of the steep parts. There were landscape timbers held in place by metal rods (for steps) but many of the them were missing or had moved around to where the rods were sticking up and creating a serious trip hazard. I'd hate to think of what would happen if someone lost their balance and fell on one the rods. Another things we didn't like was that the nice views and "wow" moments came few and far between. The biggest downer for us was the logging taking place. Hiking through areas that were clear cut was very disheartening and it was especially sad to see all the areas currently marked for logging. One of my favorite hiking areas and our favorite campsite was towards the northern end in a mature pine and hardwood forest. This was one of best maintained sections and even had some wood carvings from trees that had fallen. Sadly, almost every mature hardwood tree was marked for logging.

Over-all, I'd definitely recommend this trail for midwestern backpackers. How can you not do one of the longest trails in Indiana?! It had it's moments but if you're going to travel far, I can think of better trails, even in Indiana. If I were going to pick one to do again, I'd probably chose the Adventure Hiking Trail. But I can definitely say that I am glad we did the Knobstone. I did a full write-up of our hike on a blog that includes lots of pictures. I'll add a link to it. If linking is a no-no, let me know and I'll remove it.

https://hiddenpines53.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/knobstone-trail-thru-hike-april-26th-april-30th-2015/

J-Squared

Very nice report, sounds like a great time!

I was not familiar with the Knobstone Trail, but it certainly sounds like a fun experience. Your reaction to the logging activity sounds very much like what I have felt way too many times.

Gary M

Olathe, Kansas

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Thanks! It was fun and definitely felt like an accomplishment for us. We have a September trip planned for Pictured Rocks in the UP of Michigan that we are very much looking forward to.

As far as the logging, I understand that some logging is necessary. If they must log public land, I don't know why they can't do selective logging and/or replant when they are done. I don't think they should be able to leave huge ruts and bare hillsides leading to erosion. And I think some areas, such as areas with established, long-distance trails, should be off-limits. I have expressed my opinion to those in charge of making decisions on this type of thing but I doubt it has changed anything. Sad...

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Thanks! It was fun and definitely felt like an accomplishment for us. We have a September trip planned for Pictured Rocks in the UP of Michigan that we are very much looking forward to.

As far as the logging, I understand that some logging is necessary. If they must log public land, I don't know why they can't do selective logging and/or replant when they are done. I don't think they should be able to leave huge ruts and bare hillsides leading to erosion. And I think some areas, such as areas with established, long-distance trails, should be off-limits. I have expressed my opinion to those in charge of making decisions on this type of thing but I doubt it has changed anything. Sad...

J-Squared................

Yeah, I kinda have a thing about trees myself!

http://www.trailgroove.com/issue19.html?autoflip=133

Trees: A Confession

By the way, I was glad to read that you hiked with a women's group. I'd love to see more women and more of the younger generation get into backpacking/hiking. It has been a guy thing for many, many years; we need some diversification!

Gary M

Olathe, Kansas

Edited by Gary M
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From one tree-hugger to another, nice article!

I have to admit, it is fun hiking with a group of women and figuring out we can do this! My first "real" backpack trip was with my kids in the Adirondacks. It was 6 years ago the kids ranged in age from 9 to 14. We were very experienced day hikers but to make that our first big overnight trip (we did 3 days and 2 nights) in bear country is a little scary looking back on it. We survived though and it's now a great memory. I'd love to go back and do it again with more experience and a lighter pack.

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I know there is a group in my local area for women.............

http://www.meetup.com/outdoor-women/

I happen to know as I've come across them a couple of times hiking the same trail. Again, I see this as a really positive thing, getting different people on the trail and learning how much fun you can have.

After actually looking at their site, I see the group also goes biking, horseback riding, etc, as well as hiking and camping. It would be a good way for new people to learn outdoor skills.

Gary M

Olathe, Kansas

Edited by Gary M
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