Chesterton Tribune



Tornado damaged Indiana hiking trail to reopen

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HENRYVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Hikers will once again be able to explore the full length of Indiana’s longest hiking trail later this month when a section reopens more than a year and a half after it was damaged by a deadly tornado.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says 4 1/2 miles of the Knobstone Trail that traverses the Clark State Forest will reopen to the public Oct. 11. A March 2012 tornado that packed winds up to 175 mph had left that portion of the rugged, 58-mile backcountry trail blocked by toppled trees.

Deam Lake naturalist Rocky Brown will begin offering guided hikes on Oct. 18 of the trail’s damaged area about 20 miles north of Louisville, Ky., said Dan Ernst, assistant director of the DNR Division of Forestry.

“We expect to see great interest from hikers and visitors. They will be able to hike through and see close-up the large tornado impact area,” he said.

Last year’s storm heavily damaged a popular section of the trail around Round Knob, which provides a commanding view of the surrounding hilly landscape. The storm also damaged the Jackson Road trailhead and stripped portions of the area’s woodland of decades of accumulated leaf litter, leaving behind bare topsoil.

The DNR worked with volunteers from the Knobstone Trail Crew, the Hoosier Hikers Council and other groups to clear the trail and restore the trailhead.

The tornado cut a path across 49 miles of southern Indiana, killed 11 people and damaged 7,500 acres of woodland, including 1,300 acres in the Clark State Forest.

Fallen or damaged trees in the area are being harvested and should produce nearly 4 million board feet of timber by November, the DNR says.

More than 15 miles of horse trails in the Clark State Forest also damaged by the storm are expected to reopen by year’s end.


Posted 10/2/2013