A pair of boots and a pair of wheels — that’s all we need to connect with nature and ourselves. The natural landscape in Southwestern Indiana is a postmarked invitation to hit the trail. Thousands of years ago, when the Ice Age glaciers flattened the northern and central parts of the state, the southern region was left with hilly panoramas covered in beautiful forests of trees and wilderness. The melted glacier water created the narrow ridges, steep slopes, deep gullies, and natural landscapes that quicken the pulse of passionate hikers and bicyclists.
In addition to these natural wonders, the region has many public land opportunities and unique natural resource areas, which were formerly strip-mined. Today, these reforestation and revegetation projects offer open land with little traffic for outdoor enthusiasts to play. Using this handbook as a guide and resource for your next adventure, it’s time to start a revolution.
What are you waiting for?
Hit the roads and see Southern Indiana via bicycle
By Roger McBain • Photos Provided by Roger McBain
After a half-century pedaling an assortment of bicycles in a half-dozen states, I still love spinning my wheels.
Fortunately, the Southern Indiana area offers lots of ways to do that.
You can pedal the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage, the Newburgh Rivertown Trail or the University of Southern Indiana-Burdette Park Trail.
You can saddle up a mountain bike to pump the dirt trails at Angel Mounds State Historic Site, Harmonie State Park, or Scales Lake.
Or you can take it inside, working up a sweat in one of the stationary bicycling classes at the YMCA and area fitness clubs.
I’ve enjoyed most of those options. If you really want to make bicycling a moving, freewheeling affair, however, I recommend hitting the roads — the county roads.
I love that this part of Indiana has so many that can be ridden so many ways.
It’s impossible to adequately describe the exhilaration, the liberation, and the intense sense of feeling alive you can get breezing through flats, pumping up hills, crouching into flying descents, and meandering past rolling fields, shady woods, and occasional creeks and rivers.
If you like the company of experienced riders, consider joining the weekly rides organized by the Evansville Bicycle Club or the Tour d’Eville. Both groups post information about rides on Facebook or on their websites.
If you like a lot more company, try one of the big, annual bike events that bring hundreds of riders to our area. They include the Harmonie Hundred, recently staged in New Harmony, Indiana, and the Evansville Bicycle Club’s Great Pumpkin Metric, coming up in the fall.
Group options bring the safety of numbers, the counsel and camaraderie of other riders, and, in some cases, food stops and support drivers.
And they offer the comfort of preplanned routes that you can follow with the rest of the riders.
Recreational biking doesn’t require a parade, however. You can strike out on your own, borrowing directions from a club ride or grabbing a map, doing a bit of recon in the car, perhaps, and sketching out your own trips.
That’s what I’ve done over the last couple decades. I’ve pedaled weekend breakfast rides alone or with a friend or two. We’ve met at one another’s homes and cycled to breakfast at diners in Evansville, Poseyville, Mount Vernon, New Harmony, and Fort Branch, Indiana.
Our round-trip rides have ranged from 35 to 55 miles, and, including time for breakfast and conversation, have taken from three to four hours. I’ve taken it further with another friend, pedaling weekend bike tours over the past 20 years.
We started with organized rides, including the Hilly Hundred, an annual two-day ride that used to start in Bloomington, Indiana, and the TRIRI, a week-long Touring Ride in Rural Indiana, covering some 550 miles over a week, staying in Indiana state parks each night.
About 10 years ago or so, however, we planned our own 150-mile tour from my house in Posey County to his weekend cabin at the top of a steep hill near Borden, Indiana.
Using a regional bicycling map, I sketched out a prospective route. My wife drove it with me in the car, checking out paving conditions, traffic levels, and locations of stores, diners, and overnight accommodations.
Our final route took us through Dale and St. Meinrad, Indiana, past the Ohio River overlook at Leavenworth. We came off the saddle to climb Wyandotte Cave Road, easing onto back roads that took us into Milltown, Indiana, on the Blue River, where we spent our second night in a bed-and-breakfast. The final day wound us through paved back roads to my friend’s cabin.
We repeated the trip several years, getting used to hauling our gear in saddlebags and handlebar bags, traveling about 50 miles a day.
Later this year, as a belated celebration of a significant birthday and my recent retirement from daily journalism, I hope to up the ante.
I have begun planning a solo bicycle tour down the West Coast, from the top of Washington down to the bottom of California.
If all goes well, I figure it should take five to six weeks, with a few days allowed for visiting friends along the way.
It would be the most ambitious touring I’ve ever attempted, hauling clothing, gear, a sleeping bag, and a light tent I’d set up in campgrounds along the way.
After all the cycling I’ve done in Indiana, however — the weekday spinning classes at the YMCA, the weekend breakfast rides, and the three-day tours — I think I’ll be ready for it.
Bicycling and hiking safety tips
By Trista Lutgring
Seeking adventure can be fun, but it also has its dangers. When you’re out and about hiking and biking through the Tri-State, be sure to remember these safety tips.
1. Wear appropriate gear — reflective clothing for bikers and proper hiking boots for hikers are a few recommendations.
2. Wear a safety helmet. Make sure that it fits properly and is fastened before you start your ride.
3. Use hand signals to indicate turns and stops during a ride. See page 40 for proper hand signals you should know.
4. Take a cell phone and identification in case of an emergency.
5. Make sure to pack sunscreen and a small, basic first aid kit.
6. Take water and snacks. Make sure you are well hydrated before, during, and after your hike or ride.
7. Pack a light for evening/night visibility.
8. Plan your route ahead of time. Use current maps and weather reports when organizing your trek.
9. Use the buddy system and travel in pairs.
10. Tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you plan to return.
11. Stay on the trail. If you are in a wooded area, this reduces the chance of damaging natural resources and your exposure to poison oak, snakes, ticks, and more.
12. Be aware of your surroundings. Whether traveling through a park in the city or in the woods, remember to make sure you know what is happening around you.
Explore scenic Tri-State places for hiking and biking
By Trista Lutgring
Toss the boots in the back and load up your bike. Leave Evansville and get lost (not literally, please) adventuring at these nearby Tri-State treks.
The trails of Harmonie State Park (3451 Harmonie State Park Road, New Harmony, IN) draw in many visitors from Evansville and the Tri-State. Next to the Wabash River, this park features both hiking and mountain biking trails for enthusiasts. The community of Owensboro, Kentucky, maintains a total of 25 parks with a combined 953 acres across the city. We recommend checking out Smothers Park on the riverfront, which shows off three amazing fountains and the Lazy Dayz Playground. The 15-mile long Adkisson Greenbelt Park wraps around the city to link up its neighborhoods, business districts, other parks, and the schools. Scenic Perry County, Indiana, is home to 60,000 acres of the Hoosier National Forest. There are several different points bikers and hikers can visit from German Ridge to Tipsaw Lake. For hikers, we recommend Hemlock Cliffs for its amazing waterfalls. Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park (20781 Pennyrile State Forest Park Road, Dawson Springs, KY) boasts 37 miles of trails. This 863-acre recreational area also has great fishing opportunities and horseback riding trails. Tunnel Hill Trail (near Shawnee National Forest on the east side of Vienna, Illinois) is a 45-mile converted railroad. Bikers, hikers, and joggers use this pathway, which is surfaced with limestone and gravel. A 9.3-mile section intersects with other well-known outdoor routes, including the Trail of Tears, the primary route of the Cherokee Indians on their move from the Great Smoky Mountains to Oklahoma in 1838. For those who enjoy the water, Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area (along the Southern Kentucky and Northern Tennessee border) is home to more than 170,000 acres of forests, wetlands, and open lands. There is a total of 300 miles of natural shoreline — perfect for hiking, biking, and camping. In Bloomington, Indiana, there are 18 trails, parks, recreation areas, and wilderness spots around the city and in nearby towns that cater to bikers and hikers. Don’t miss the Little 500, an April race that draws more than 25,000 people to the Indiana University campus.
Location: Elberfeld, Indiana, in Warrick County
Miles of Trails: No maintained trails
Hours of operation: Sunrise to sunset
Biking: Yes, on main roads
Pets Allowed: Dog training area northof Boonville-New Harmony Road
Trail to Try: While there may not be any specific hiking trails in the Blue Grass Fish & Wildlife Area, there are a few shoreline fishing trails that provide great views of the water pits and wildlife of the area. Bicyclists flock to this area to ride the more than 36 miles of paved bicycle routes with minimal traffic and gorgeous scenic views.
History: Though the Blue Grass Fish & Wildlife Area is specifically for hunting and fishing, the 2,532-acre natural resource area is an outdoor escape for anyone. A former strip-mining site, Blue Grass has 28 pits and lakes, upland habitat, and shallow impoundments to attract many songbirds, hawks, and waterfowl for hikers to observe.
All In The Family
The Krugers encourage healthy, active lifestyles
By Trista Lutgring • Photo by Jerry Butts
Avid Cyclists Joseph and Amy Kruger know staying active is beneficial not only for their health, but their family as well. That’s why they found great joy when their two-year-old son Cannon began to take interest in his small bicycle.
“Just recently he really started getting into the biking. With it being warm out and being able to get outside, he’s understanding his push bike and how it functions. It’s great,” says Amy.
Joseph and Amy, Bloomington, Indiana, natives who now reside in Mount Vernon, Indiana, have been married for eight years, but have been together since high school. Cycling became an interest for them after a trip to Denver, Colorado, in 2009. She says a friend asked her to go on a ride and after the 25-mile trek she was hooked.
“It’s kind of funny how it worked out; he really got into the mountain biking, I got into the road biking. Things started crossing; I wanted a mountain bike and he wanted a road bike. We got addicted,” she says with a laugh.
It’s an advantage that they both love cycling, says Amy. “If the other spouse isn’t into it, then I can see where it could become very challenging to find a balance between the two. We’re lucky in that aspect that we both enjoy it,” she adds.
Though the couple enjoys racing, Joseph, who is a manager at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Evansville, says they have started to participate in more road criteriums, which are short, 1-mile laps in a city that last 45 minutes. The races have different start times, which allows the couple to switch off and race at separate times. The Krugers participate in many out-of-town criteriums, and two local criteriums, the Evansville Burning Quad and the River City Bicycle Classic.
“To be brutally honest, it’s not easy to be a cycling and outdoor family,” he adds. “But I’ve found when we are all on our bikes together, that is just as rewarding as any race.”
“It doesn’t have to take away from our family time because it is our family time,” says Amy, who is a registered nurse at the Deaconess Heart Hospital and is a board member of the Evansville Mountain Bike Association.
Both stress the importance of showing Cannon the benefits of staying active. “If you want your kids to be active, as everybody does, it starts with you, the parent,” says Joseph. “It’s not enough to be a cheerleader, you have to be a leader by example and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
For more information about the Evansville Mountain Bike Association, visit emba-mtb.org or its Facebook page.
While riding with a group can be fun, it also can be dangerous. Here are the hand signals to keep in mind while riding with a group or to pay attention to while driving when cyclists on are the road.
Location: 5301 Nurrenburn Road
Miles of Trails: 3 Miles
Hours of Operation: 7 a.m. to midnight year round
Trail to Try: USI-Burdette Trail, 3 miles
Why: Linked with the University of Southern Indiana, Burdette Park’s paved walkway shows off many miles of beautiful Southern Indiana nature. It was designated as a National Recreation Trail by the Secretary of the Interior in 2008.
History: Though it’s largely known for its aquatic center, the 170-acre Burdette Park offers endless opportunities for recreation seekers. The 3-mile paved trail stretching from the University of Southern Indiana to the park is open for the public to use for both biking, walking, and BMX racing. The park, which sits on the hilly West Side of Evansville, also features day-shelter houses, the O’Day Discovery Lodge, chalets, and campsites. For bikers, the Burdette Park Discovery Trail leads to four different routes (shared with motorists) totaling more than 30 miles. The campus of USI also is home to many miles of multi-use trails. The Bent Twig Trails, nine in total, are on the north and west sides of Reflection Lake. The school’s two South Campus Trails are through the USI disc golf course and through the woods by the lake.
Location: Highway 662 at Yorkshire Road, Newburgh, Indiana
Miles of Trails: 2.75 miles
Hours of Operation: Sunrise to sunset
Place to Visit: Indian Hill Overlook Park
Why: Winding throughout Newburgh, the paved Rivertown Trail takes bikers and hikers through Newburgh’s historic district. Perfect for families to enjoy scenic views along the Ohio River, walk through the woods for wildlife viewing, or take a quick picnic break at convenient benches throughout the trail.
History: Built in 2010, the Rivertown Trail divulges a unique and significant piece of Newburgh history. In 1862, Newburgh was the first town north of the Mason Dixon Line to be captured by the Confederate army, led by Stovepipe Johnson. The Confederates carried stovepipes, which Newburgh’s army confused
for cannons. No shots were fired. The Rivertown trail eventually will connect to the trails at Angel Mounds.
Location: From Sunrise Park in Downtown Evansville north to Heidelbach Avenue
Miles of Trails: 6.75 miles
Hours of operation: Sunrise to sunset
Trail to Try: Shirley James Gateway Plaza & Trailhead
Why: A tribute to Shirley James, the trailhead near Mead Johnson features the structures depicting six different forms of transportation. From here, users travel north through the city or follow along the river to Sunrise Park. James was chairman of the Greenway Passage Advisory Board for 18 years and instrumental in the greenway’s construction. She passed away in 2007.
History: A path that makes its way through the heart of Evansville, the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage is made up of corridors that take walkers and bikers along the riverfront, through Downtown, and next to Pigeon Creek. When the passage is complete, the 10-foot-wide paved trail will be 42 miles long and encircle all of Evansville. It also will extend to adjacent counties and link up to the American Discovery Trail, an interstate system of trails that crosses the U.S.
On The Trail
Indiana’s mountain biking recognized as destination for Midwest cyclists
By Roger McBain • Photos Provided by Roger McBain
Sometimes it can pay to come in last.
Landing at the bottom of the International Mountain Bicycling Association’s ranking of states a dozen years ago may have helped motivate a remarkable turnaround for off-road cycling in Indiana, says Alex Stewart.
Stewart would know.
The 45-year-old Indianapolis man is a lifelong cyclist who has made it his business to help turn his state into a destination for mountain bikers from throughout the region.
First as a volunteer, and since 2004 as founder and president of Spectrum Trail Designs, Stewart has played a key role in nurturing Indiana’s embrace of mountain biking.
Working with a few employees and teams of volunteers, he has designed and overseen development of custom, single-track dirt trails that now flow through state parks, city parks, and private sites throughout Indiana, with several projects in this corner of the state.
The best-known system, Brown County State Park, offers more than 20 miles of dedicated mountain bike trails. It has become a nationally recognized destination for cyclists from throughout the Midwest.
Stewart’s other projects in Indiana include the trails at Versailles and O’Bannon Woods state parks, and at Harmonie State Park, in New Harmony, Indiana.
He also has designed a single-track loop for French Lick, Indiana, and at Ben Hawes Park in Owensboro, Kentucky.
While none of the Evansville area’s trails have achieved the recognition that Brown County has won, they are young projects with plenty of potential for growth, says Stewart.
“I think the sky’s the limit, as far as the future goes,” he says.
Jon Winne, park manager at Harmonie State Park, echoes Stewart’s optimism.
At this point, six years after the first section of dirt single-track opened at Harmonie State Park, “the trails are our No. 1 daily-use activity,” says Winne.
“We usually get 100 to 150 mountain bikers through the gate each month. As far as I’m concerned, they are one of our primary asset groups.”
Winne looks to people like Tim Barnes and other volunteers in the Evansville Mountain Bike Association to make the system even more attractive in the future.
Barnes and his friends want the same thing. Over the past six years, he has worked with a core group of volunteers from the Evansville area as well as occasional EMBA members to build and groom about 10 miles of dirt trail in the park.
They have deployed chainsaws, trail hoes, weed cutters, rakes, and shovels to carve, clean, and maintain the trails. And they are moving ahead with plans to add six or more miles to the trails in the coming years, opening a mile or two at a time.
The trails all follow the model of Stewart’s original designs. “We work on having a good flow,” says Barnes. “Alex likes to call it dirt surfing.”
Barnes has designed most of the expansions, he says. “I was trained by Alex and I went to an IMBA Trails Solution seminar at French Lick. They taught me some of the key things to do when you’re building trails.”
Flowing trails follow the contours of the land in a steady rhythm of climbs, descents, and turns that weave through woods and hang on the edges of the small ravines in the park.
Over the past six years Barnes has seen ridership climb steadily on Harmonie’s trails.
Riders range from casual campers staying in the park to dedicated mountain bikers who may have traveled from Terre Haute, Indiana, or St. Louis to pedal the trails.
He sees Harmonie’s trail system as a fun place to learn and to develop skills for beginning and intermediate level mountain bikers.
The park’s trails complement other off-road offerings in the area, including a meandering course through the woods at Angel Mounds in Newburgh, Indiana, more challenging tracks at French Lick and Ben Hawes, and what many consider the area’s most technically demanding trails at Scales Lake Park in Boonville, Indiana.
Barnes has gone lots of places to ride his mountain bike, including a recent trip to Sedona, Arizona.
He still likes what he sees at home, though.
“It’s really a great area to ride mountain bikes,” says Barnes.
For more information about the International Mountain Biking Association, visit imba.com.
Greg Meyer’s passion for nature preservation leads to trails
By Laura Acchiardo • Photos Provided by Greg Meyer
Greg Meyer is a man who knows trails.
An Eagle Scout, Greg’s love for hiking and biking stemmed from childhood. The Holland, Indiana, native graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor of science degree in Environmental Policy, received his law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, and moved to Evansville in 1985. Wanting to stay active, Greg, who currently works as an attorney at Meyer Stone & Stratman, LLP, located in the Curtis Building in Downtown Evansville, joined Evansville Bicycle Sport, a bicycle-racing club no longer in existence.
After that, Meyer’s cycling and hiking interest took off. Meyer helped design the four bicycle routes, all together 32.35 miles, connecting Burdette Park to Union Township. The project led Meyer to the cleanup and protection of Eagle Slough Natural Area along U.S. Highway 41 in 2008. Open for self-guided tours sunrise to sunset seven days a week, Eagle Slough has a half-mile gravel trail with side trail accessibility.
“There was all this trash on the land because it had been a dumping ground,” says Meyer describing scouting Eagle Slough before it was protected. “Traylor Brothers donated 50 acres of the land they owned, and we got a monetary donation to buy the land from the state. At the end of it, we had 127 acres.”
Greg also designed a four-trail, 36-mile trek at Blue Grass Fish & Wildlife Area.
With years of bicycle training and racing under his belt, Meyer helped start the Harmonie Hundred Bike Ride, a two-day ride, in 1991 and was involved with the event for seven years. Then Greg organized the annual Wurst Bicycle Ride at Burdette Park and Union Township in 2007 and helped with the ride for eight years. He also worked for seven years on the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is charged with the planning of area roadways.
Today, Meyer is on the board of directors with the Sycamore Land Trust, which works to preserve land in Southern Indiana.
For more information about Eagle Slough Natural Area, call 812-336-5382 or visit eagleslough.org.
Heiman pledges to turn Evansville into a city within a park
By Emily Patton • Photo by Jerry Butts
It’s one thing to build trails. It’s another to change a culture — and that’s exactly what Roberta Heiman plans to do.
The 71-year-old Evansville resident founded the Evansville-Area Trails Coalition six years ago to promote healthy activities on the area trails while also helping to develop more safe places to walk and bicycle.
Heiman, a longtime newspaper reporter who has been retired for 10 years, says the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage is a wonderful start, but there’s more to be done. Her dream is to connect the greenway with the University of Southern Indiana-Burdette Park Trail, which is a 3-mile paved pathway connecting the college with the recreation area, and go as far as Angel Mounds and the Newburgh Rivertown Trail in Newburgh, Indiana. It’s a dream that would turn Evansville into a city within a park, says Heiman, who is a Purdue University alumna and an avid walker and community volunteer.
“Building trails costs money, but it is a whole lot cheaper than the medical care for not doing that,” she says.
Before founding the coalition, Heiman looked at other cities. She found that one common key was the existence of an independent citizen advocacy group that helped fund and promote trails. She used Fort Wayne Trails, a nonprofit organization in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as a reference. Heiman admits she is disappointed her group hasn’t achieved more — citing federal dollars won’t make it happen without community support.
The coalition has started a bicycle safety education program for children, saw Mayor Lloyd Winnecke form a Bicycle Friendly Community Task Force, and spearheaded the Evansville Streets Alive!, a free festival in its fourth year that promotes activity. This year’s festival is noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 17 at Garvin Park and N. Main Street to Columbia Street.
For more information about Evansville Streets Alive! and the Evansville-Area Trails Coalition, visit facebook.com/EvansvilleStreetsAlive.
Location: 3100 U.S. Highway 41 N., Henderson, KY
Miles of Trails: More than 6 miles
Pets Allowed: Only on Eagle Glen Pet Trail
Fishing: Only on Recreation Lake
Hours of Operation: Sunrise to sunset daily
Trails to Try: Wilderness Lake Trail, 1 mile or Warbler Road Trail, .7 mile
Why: The most popular path at Audubon, the Wilderness Lake Trail, takes hikers along a ridgeline before descending down a steep stairway to the lake. Warbler Road is paved and serves as the location for many trailheads.
History: Construction of elements of the John James Audubon Park began in 1938 as a part of the Civil Conservation Corps No. 1540 project. The CCC built cabins, gardens, shelter houses, a lake, trails, and other improvements in the park. From the hilly Kentucky Coffee Tree Trail to the Eagle Glen Pet Trail, this park is full of opportunity for beginning and experienced hikers to enjoy. Camp overnight and wake up for a hike with the sun.
Barnes leads volunteers to maintain bicycle trail systems
By Roger McBain • Photo by Jerry Butts
Tim Barnes digs dirt.
Over the past seven years the Mount Vernon, Indiana, man has become as dedicated to building and grooming Harmonie State Park’s single-track mountain bike trails as he is to riding them.
It all began when his son, a mountain biker then living in Minneapolis, invited Barnes to try riding the park’s dirt trails with him during a visit home.
“I’d been a road rider most of my adult life,” recalls Barnes, “but I tried mountain biking and I really enjoyed it.”
After 10 years riding paved roads, he’d come to think of cycling more as exercise than fun, “dialing in” a constant cadence for consistent exertion.
Mountain biking forced him to relearn how to bicycle.
The dynamics of finding and keeping balance on a winding, climbing, dropping ribbon of dirt change every second.
“Mountain biking requires quicker reactions for gear selection, body position, and identifying the course for the bike to take,” he says. “There is no forgiveness if you miss a shift or zig left when you should have zagged right.”
The exercise levels intensified, as well. “Mountain biking can push me to an aerobic state quickly, requiring me to stop and rest. It’s an ‘on/off’ experience, even on a simple beginner trail, if I ride fast,” says Barnes, who is retired from General Electric/SABIC.
As he spent more time biking the trails, “I noticed there wasn’t really anybody maintaining them or watching over them,” he says. “I was recently retired, so I decided to do that.”
At 66, Barnes has become Harmonie State Park’s lead trail guy, working with a dedicated group of volunteers from the Evansville Mountain Bike Association to maintain and expand the trail system.
Harmonie’s easiest trails “are very good for beginners,” he says. As his own riding skills have advanced, Barnes has ridden lots of other trails in other places.
He continues to enjoy riding in Harmonie, however.
The park’s more advanced trail extensions aren’t as challenging as some more “technical” tracks in the region, “but they’re still fun for an intermediate level rider, too,” says Barnes.
“All different levels of riders like them,” he says.
If you’re looking to get active with bicycling or hiking, here are some local organizations to help you get started.
• Evansville Bicycle Club: With a current membership of more than 200 individuals and families, this club has been active for more than 30 years. It provides its members a chance to cycle on a regular basis and organizes rides year round. Evansvillebicycleclub.org or facebook.com/EvansvilleBicycleClub.
• Tour d’Eville: This Tri-State bicycling club hosts organized rides that are typically 20 to 30 miles long. Facebook.com/groups/108393254984/.
• Southern Indiana Triathlon Team: SITT is a triathlon and multisport club that offers triathletes an opportunity to socialize and train together. No matter your level of ability, SITT is open to everyone and hosts group runs and rides, clinics, and more. Sitriteam.com.
• Evansville Mountain Biking Association: As the local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association, this group is a great way to connect with mountain bikers in the Tri-State area. There are group rides, road trips, trail maintenance days, and more. Imba.com/teaming/evansville-mountain-bike-association or facebook.com/groups/EMBA1/.
• Evansville Adventure Club: One of the best ways to get outdoors in the Tri-State is to join with the Evansville Adventure Club. This group offers a broad range of hiking events from day hikes to extended outdoor trips. Members also bike, kayak, and backpack. Meetup.com/Evansvile-Adventure-Club/.
• Evansville-Area Trails Coalition: Founded in 2013, this organization strives to promote healthy activities, including walking and biking in the Tri-State. The ultimate goal is to develop a network of more safe places for walking and biking that connects the Tri-State communities. Facebook.com/evansvilleareatrails.
Location: 551 N. Boeke Road
Miles of Trails: 6
Hours of operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday
Trails to Try: Pond Trail, .3 mile or the Mini Loop, .25 mile
Why: This boardwalk trail leads visitors to the Seasonal Pond and is a great trek for families. The Pond Trail also connects with the Main Trail and Boonville Trail. The Mini Loop is a paved trail that takes visitors by the largest tulip poplar in Vanderburgh County. Call ahead regarding trail conditions for handicap accessibility.
History: As the largest old growth forest in Indiana and the largest urban old growth forest in the nation, walking into Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve is like stepping back in time. Saved from becoming a golf course in the late 1960s by the Junior League of Evansville, the preserve sits on 200 acres, has a
canopy 100 feet high, and trees 300 to 400 years old. No other city in the U.S. with a population exceeding 100,000 has within its corporate limits the wood
land acreage or quality. ALSO: Don’t miss Howell Wetlands, a 35-acre urban wetland habitat managed by the Wesselman Nature Society. There are two miles of flat, mulched, and boardwalked trails for walking, wildlife viewing, and dog walking.
Location: 800 W. Tennyson Road, Boonville, IN
Miles of Trails: 6.25 miles
Admission: $2 per car, 50 cents for walk-ins
Hours of Operation: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Trail to Try: Scales Lake Trail
Why: Scales Lake Trail is a full 6.25-mile-long loop and open to both bikers and hikers to enjoy.
History: Nestled just to the northeast of Boonville, Indiana, Scales Lake Park is a nice getaway less than 30 minutes from Evansville. Bikers and hikers alike are welcome to travel through the park and enjoy the wildlife in the forest and on the lake itself. Campers and those looking to fish also are welcome. The park has a ghost story – the legend of “Black Annie” – referring to a woman dressed in black with a black veil traversing Old Tennyson Road in the 1930s with sightings since. Scales Lake beach and waterslide open in late May. A pavilion and four two-bed room cabins also occupy the property.
A Walk In The Woods
Museum science director discovers love for backpacking
By Roger McBain • Photos Provided by Mitch Luman
Mitch Luman always liked camping and he always enjoyed hiking.
Until a decade ago, however, he considered the two related but separate activities, says the Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science’s science director.
Luman grew up in Fremont, Ohio, thinking of hiking as something you need boots for and camping as something you need a car for.
On his own hikes he’d seen people traversing trails hauling clothing, food, tents, and sleeping bags on their backs, “but they seemed like a kind of person that I was not,” he says. “For lack of a better term, they seemed more hippy-like.”
About a decade ago, he and a hiking buddy decided to try it for themselves, however.
They traveled to Isle Royale National Park in Houghton, Michigan, to do a six-day, 60-mile backpacking trip.
It was an extreme initiation, longer than any trek he’s done since then, but “it was a Eureka moment for me,” says Luman.
It wasn’t just for backwoods bohemians, he realized. “Backpacking was for everybody,” he says.
Since then, Luman has hauled his own gear over trails in 10 states, from Washington to West Virginia.
“My trips in the West have been the most adventurous,” says Luman.
“I’ve had to stand my ground with mountain goats on the trail when there was no going around them,” he says. “I’ve woken some mornings when it was so cold you could not move your fingers to just pack up and get going. And most recently I experienced altitude sickness at 10,000 feet (in Wyoming).”
Luman says he loves the liberation backpacking brings.
“To be able to carry everything you need on your own two feet and know you’re not relying on anyone else for your sustenance for a period of time is a very good feeling,” he says.
“And you can go places and see things people can’t drive to. Nothing beats that exhilaration.”
Location: 8215 Pollack Ave., Newburgh, IN
Miles of Trails: 2 miles on the archaeological site and 6 miles on the woodland trails
Admission: Adults $5, seniors (60+) $4, children (3-12) $2, children (2 & under) free for the archeological site.
Hours of Operation: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays.
Trail to Try: Muskogean trail, 6 miles
Why: With a unique trail system, Angel Mounds is a nature preserve and an archaeological site with paths in the western wooded area and on the site. Hikers will find the wide dirt footpaths easier to trek than cement or concrete.
History: A Native American archaeologcal reserve, Angel Mounds was preserved by the Indiana Historical Society in 1938, thanks to donations by Eli Lilly. The Historical Society then turned the 412 acre property over to the state of Indiana in 1946. Open to fitness nuts of all kind, Angel Mounds sees hikers, mountain bike riders, and runners. It also is the site of several races for runners.