Knobstone Trail—a Great Place to Hike

Most of the time, my turkey hunting adventures are not much more than long hikes while dressed in camouflage. The season comes at a great time. After a long winter of being more sedentary than one should be, I enjoy the exercise. Turkey season leaves me motivated to start walking more often and to get in better shape.

There are many great hiking trails in Indiana. None, though, are longer or more challenging than the Knobstone Trail. The Knobstone Trail’s 58-mile course journeys up and down, and up and down again, through the hills of southern Indiana. The elevation change is challenging, the scenery incredible and the solitude refreshing. Passing through lands of the Clark State Forest, Hoosier National Forest, Elk Creek Public Fishing Area, and Jackson-Washington State Forest, this public trail belongs to all Hoosiers and visitors.

At 58 miles, the Knobstone Trail doesn’t compare to the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail in length, but the topography is similar. Some people actually use the Knobstone Trail to train for the challenge of the Appalachian. If you are interested in the joys and pains of long-distance hiking, you should consider checking out the book A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson.

This modern masterpiece is Bryson’s account of hiking the Appalachian Trail with a buddy from his past. What makes the book so appealing is that these guys aren’t hardcore hikers or skilled outdoorsmen. They are everyday individuals who went looking for a way to commune with nature while exploring Americana. Throughout the book, Bryson details excitement found through the boredom of walking, and walking, and walking some more.

Some the stories spun in this book are nothing short of hilarious. It’s evident at the end of the book how a simple walk in the woods can benefit life.

“I wanted to quit and do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this at once, every moment, on the trail or off,” said Bryson.

Hiking the backcountry of Indiana isn’t something that jumps out as an option for enjoying the state’s vast outdoor treasures, yet doing so really is a great experience. If you’ve just always wondered what it would be like to go backpacking for a few nights, then I encourage you to consider the Knobstone Trail. Indiana’s a great place to go for a hike.

How could one find so much to write about when all he did was hike a trail? Well, nature gives us so much unexpected joy, I assume he had trouble whittling the stories down to fit in one book. Sometimes, the joy is so easy to obtain, like watching the sun set. Other times, it is found in the culmination of a daunting task, such as reaching the peak of a steep mountain. No matter what your goal is when you step outside, you will undoubtedly come away with unexpected pleasure. A gift, if you will. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and your feet on the ground. Unless you’re flying, but we’ll save that thought for another column.