Overall a very decent trail for a challenging
Overnight hike. I made the drive down from Michigan after work on a Friday, it was quite the drive (5+ hours through Indiana backcountry). I made it too the Old Barn Shelter where I was greeted by no one around 1130pm. The shelter itself shelters your from the elements and offers a fire pit under the shelter. It made for a chilly night with a only 3 walls and an open entrance, however I'll take a 45 degree night in February anytime! After an early
Morning I drove through O'Bannon Woods to take in some sights and cached three liters of water on Cold Friday Road in between the Homestead and OHio River shelter (most reviews recommended it and I wasn't taking any chances). I parked on SR-462 near the entrance of O'Bannon woods. The trail itself on day one (13+ miles) featured plenty of ups and downs and all arounds the ravines and valleys, slowly making your way towards the Ohio River. I crossed over several dried up creek beds that would be quite the sight during a heavy spring runoff. I chugged along and heard the unpleasant moans and groans of heavy machinery labor in the distance. Shortly thereafter signs posted detoured me to a fireplace (bushwhacked up a hill) which ran about a mile until a clearing with heavy machinery that is used for a logging operation. The trail met back up with the AHT and soon I traced the Indian creek shelter which looked inviting and the view down to the Indian creek was awesome. After some snaking through ravines I made it to a primitive shelter (more or less an emergency stop) and another mile later to homestead shelter where I broke for lunch. Crossing Cold Friday Road and refilling my water I was in for quite the uphill, however there was glimpses of the Ohio River through the February woods. After some laboring again ( you guessed it ravines) I made it to the Ohio River Shelter which is the prize of the whole AHT. The shelter was one of the nicest I've seen. I was thrilled, yet disappointed when I realized there was no one else at the shelter, allowing me
To stake my claim to a nice corner within the shelter. A few hours of slacking around, gathering wood, and hoping the rain would hold off two guys showed up (the first people I had seen since leaving on Friday evening). The rain held off aside from a sprinkle or two and it make for a peaceful night watching the barges steam up and down the river from the high bluff. The sun set per usual on a mid-February night (6pm) which made for an early bedtime, however the wind really picked up. I was awoken from my slumber at 1am by the door being swung open by a heinous gust of wind that was straight from the evil dead. I stumbled to my feet worried the deadites would soon follow. I woke up several times from that moment as it was unsettling yet fascinating to hear the creeks and groans of the wind meeting the log cabin. I woke up around 7 and hurried to rush out of camp to make it back to my car in a reasonable time, getting out around 745a as the wind was subsiding however the drizzle began, a mist leading into a light rain for an hour or so making the trip down the bluff and towards the picnic shelter a little more interesting. After making
Past the picnic shelter it became an uphill gain for a distance, until reaching the campground junction in which I intended to stop for water, but passed on it as I was doing pretty well I'm the 50-60 degree weather since my fill-up the day prior. The AHT snakes around the campground and a short mile later you are at the Old Iron Bridge that crosses the Blue River (more so a green river). The trail up to this point was marked extremely well, markers every 150-200 feet or on trees, however from the Old Iron Bridge to The Rendezvous point becomes a more rugged, less markers, and more trash. The trail follows the Blue River for a distance then you make a strenuous uphill trek to reach the Hog Barn Shelter. After the Hog Barn there's some
More uphill followed by a junction in which you can continue north to the Old Barn Shelter or head South (East). I made it back to my car right around noon. Thus making my total trip of 23ish miles in 28 hours ( 11+ hours of hiking time). I usually average 2.5-3 miles an hour, the uphill and elevation gain defiantly added some time to this trip.
Overall, an extremely pleasant and challenging trail that is perfect for an overnight. It would be quite the challenge to complete in one day given the toil on your knees. The lack of water on this trail wasn't as concerning as I thought it would be. If you're in a pinch you could filter from the Indian River or Ohio River (no clear way to get there, but manageable) or the blue River. All three rivers looked pretty cloudy, so maybe sticking to drop points would be better. In the whole trip, I saw 6 people, which really surprised me. This is a wonderful trail that is a mere 30 minutes from Louisville and a short distance from Evansville and Indianapolis. If more trails like th
Visited In February of 2017. It was an amazing 60+degree day with sunshine. Only had a few hours of hiking so just went from The Pioneer Shelter to first Cabin over looking the Ohio River. (1.3miles one way) This section is great for those wanting a short decent uphill hike with a view!
This trail is much longer than I initially thought. I must urge anyone who attempts it to bring a water filter and at least two days of food, extra if possible.
As of January 27, three parts of the trail are closed due to logging. The fire trails used to reroute hikers are poorly marked, and shorten the trail. I would recommend anyone interested in hiking this trail to wait at least a couple weeks, and to check with the park rangers beforehand. Overall the trail was great, well marked (aside from parts which were damaged due to logging), and had plenty of pleasant scenery.
Bottom line: IMO, this is the best backpacking trail in Indiana. I've hiked the Knobstone, Techumseh, and many other trails and this one is my favorite.
THE GOOD: This is easily the best marked trail I've hiked in Indiana. Blazes are prolific, easy to find, distinct, and reflective so the trail is easy to follow at night. The trail itself is clear of underbrush and well constructed. We hiked it in January and the lack of foliage gave us good views of the surrounding hills, plus the views of the Ohio River and Indian Creek were just outstanding. The shelters were another nice surprise. Stay at the Ohio river shelter for a nice view of the mighty Ohio River (and the eyesore mining operation on the other bank), or better yet, the Indian Creek shelter for an even better view of Indian Creek far below (and no sounds of heavy industry). Water was also not at all difficult for us to obtain. There is very little trash on the trail, and zero horse marks or droppings.
THE BAD: With the exception of the above mentioned shelters, the other shelters are a bit "meh". The South-Eastern segment of the trail looks like it has undergone timber harvest sometime in the last decade. Large piles of decaying treetops. It's easily noticeable and a bit of an eyesore, but the park did a fine job of reestablishing the trail.
THE UGLY: At the time of this writing (JAN2017) the eastern portion of the trail has been completely demolished by logging activity. We tried to find the reroute, failed, then tried and failed to follow the trail through the area being logged. Finding that impossible, we spent an hour picking our way through muddy logging roads and felled trees until we finally got close enough to the trail that we were able to bushwack our way back onto it. Write your state Governor and representatives and urge them to protect our trails from logging activity. Logging is necessary for forest management, but it can be done without wrecking popular recreational trails (steps down from soapbox).
Very confusing! Finding trail heads was difficult! Once I found one and jumped on it, I was able to find more. The map given at the Ranger station is not much help. I highly recommend taking Blue River Bluff to Iron Bridge which takes you down to the mouth of the river. Very beautiful!!
This trail will kick your ass. Make sure to cache water and check-in with Ranger Bob before going out. The tail is well marked, and camp sites have shelters and fire rings. Was only able to complete half of the trail, but plan to return in the spring. If your looking for a trail to condition on, this one will not disappointment you. (thanks to Jason and his crew for maintaining the trail).
Cat B. on Adventure Hiking Trail
This trail will kick your ass! That said, it's an extremely satisfying backpacking accomplishment . I recommend hiking sections at a time and carrying/caching as much water as possible since there aren't any natural sources to draw from. The AHT is well marked and maintained by the DNR and volunteers (thank you mountain biker Jason and friends). The log cabin shelters are quite unique and equipped with fire rings, but the terrain is rugged and challenging to get to them. Visit the ranger station and listen/follow their all their expert advice! A special shout out to Ranger Bob who advised and prepared us well!
Update as of Oct 29th
I've personally cut 50+trees off the trail and a group of us have cleared the tall grass in sections with weedeaters as well the briars. We'll be putting more carsonite signs up to aid with the directions. For those that are use to the overgrown, trees down everywhere trail, you will be very pleased with our groups dedication to getting the trail in shape.
Nice trail. As mentioned by others the trail is overgrown in some area and the marking could be improved but all in all the trail is great. Shows you parts of Indiana that you would have never thought were out there.
If you see any mountain bikers you might want to thank them as they are the only group that maintained an the trails in the area. They cut the trees out, clear the briars, and do as much as they can to keep this trail open to all users.
Chad S. on Adventure Hiking Trail
Myself and two friends hiked this in one day 8a.m. to 6p.m. the trail was fun and tested us the whole hike. Some parts where poor marked and other parts had super tall grass but all and all it was a blast. can't wait to do it again.