Knobstone Hiking Trail - October 2023
Wed 01 November 2023
Shortly after returning from our SHT hike, I started thinking about trying to get in a three to four day solo hike before the end of the year, so I started looking for options. Although I would have been happy to go back to Wisconsin or Minnesota, I really wanted to find something somewhere else, but without having to do a lot of driving. I started searching the states in the upper midwest, roughly within a 6-hour driving radius, and eventually found the Knobstone Hiking Trail, which is located in southern Indiana. I began my usual research, mostly consisting of studying maps, campsites, and water locations, until one evening I noticed on the trail association page a blurb about a "fall backpacking trip." There was a Facebook link to the event, with a post by guide Scott Beam that began with this:
Another year, another fall foliage backpacking trip along the original section of the Knobstone! This year I'm planning on taking four days to complete the adventure, which might allow some who haven't made it in the past join in.
It sounded good, and though it wouldn't be a solo hike, and I was a bit unsure about hiking with a bunch of strangers, it seemed like a good and safe way to experience the trail, so I signed up, and I'm glad I did! It turned out to be a challenging hike on a beautiful and rugged trail that I hadn't been on before, as well as an opportunity to meet people and make friends. It could not have been a better finale for the 2023 backpacking season!
Here's a photo-summary of the hike:
The first day started at Spurgeon Hollow. We were a group of ten, two of whom were just hiking for the day. We went 12-ish miles to reach Elk Creek Lake, where we were treated by a "trail angel" to a nice dinner of hamburgers, hot dogs, side dishes and drinks.
Day two started with a light rain that cleared out pretty quickly. This was another 12-ish miles with some grueling ups and downs that really kicked my butt. I didn't grab any pictures during the day as I was focused on just pushing along. The campsite at the end though was in a very lovely valley. Sleep came early and quickly.
Day three was another challenging hike of 13+ miles. One of the hikers got off the trail at mid-day, reducing our group to seven members. I got only these two pictures of the bunch of us taking a break; the rest of the time I was again just pushing along and not taking time for pictures. We arrived at our campsite just as it began raining, and everyone was scrambling to get shelters up and get hunkered down before getting too wet. Again, sleep came early!
Day four was much easier, with only about eight miles to the end. The rain had cleared by morning so packing up was relaxed - though my pack was extra heavy with a wet tent. Scott had arranged for a breakfast by another trail angel, who brought us biscuits, gravy, bacon, Pepsi and Dr. Pepper, and chocolate bars, which was a real treat and very much appreciated by everyone.
With the shorter day, we relaxed a bit and I had more time for pictures. These next four pictures are from one of the highest peaks in Indiana, at about 1000ft.
And here is Deam Lake, at the conclusion of our hike.
This sign near the parking lot shows the trail elevation - many steep ups and downs!
And here's the whole group, a great bunch of guys and fun to hike with! From left to right: Kevin, Trevor, David, Scott, Steve, Tony and me.