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).
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.
Completed this 23 mile loop trail in 2.5 days. We are a group of 40-something novice backpackers. It was the first trip for the other 3 woman and only my second backpacking adventure. We started at 462 and old forest road and travelled counterclockwise. Despite other reviewers, I would say this trail is marked very well. Just pay attention for the green/white blazes. It is easy to get on a horse trail or a side trail but you will quickly correct when you don't see a blaze. In the area with recent logging south of the Indian creek shelter- it is a little trickier sometimes to find the trail, but we novices did just fine. ( look for the pink ribbons) The trail is tough, carrying all that water is hard- our pace was about 40 min/mile including breaks. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of campsites. You can camp anywhere but you won't find too many flat spots other than the areas with shelters. The Ohio River Shelter is awesome. Picnic tables, fire rings and a large cabin with a door. There is a trail register there. Very good place to sleep during the thunderstorm. We stayed the second night at Indian Creek shelter. Smaller but still with picnic tables and fire ring and plenty of wood. The Homestead shelter is in a big grassy area and I would be afraid of ticks there. The trail is at times overgrown and sometimes mucky, but that adds to the fun. Many beautiful sites to see. I could get some cell service when on top of the bluffs. There was a severe thunderstorm on May 7th. Lots of blowdowns. The worst area is the 2 mile section between Old Forest Road and 462. Several nearly impassable areas. I hope they can clear it out soon. We had to take our backpacks off and crawl through the downed trunks. I can't wait to do it again but I'm going to carry a lighter pack!
Hiked this trail with a friend on April 22, 23, & 24. Yeah, I know. Three days? I'm almost 64 and my friend is 54 so we maintained a bit slower pace. The trail was well marked except in a few places where heavy equipment had obliterated any sign of the trail. You just have to pay attention to the blazes. Even though there are big signs at every road crossing saying "No Horses Allowed", there is ample evidence that horses have frequented the trail in spite of the signs. The horses have turned numerous muddy spots in the trail into impassable quagmires that we had to skirt around. Not that big a deal, just a bit inconvenient. Pay attention to your map and bearings when you reach the "Rendezvous Point" on the northeast section of the loop. We took a wrong turn and came out at the trailhead on SR 462. Rather than backtrack, we walked down, or rather UP the highway to where the trail crosses 462 and continued from there. Some beautiful scenery, some of which probably wouldn't be visible once all the leaves are out, and some very formidable climbs and descents. All in all, a very enjoyable hike.
We took our two dogs on this hike, definitely longer than 20 miles the way we went. At about 9 hours we were not even half way finished with the trail yet and already almost 20 miles in. We went counter clockwise from the pioneer shelter and spent the night in the first cabin. Saw the other 3 cabins within 6 hours of leaving the first. Be sure to be very prepared to hike well over 20 miles on this trail. Some great sights along the trail though!
We hiked this trail on February 19th. Parked at 462 parking lot and hiked the connector trail to the loop. We went clockwise from there. Took us 10 hours 42 minutes. Trail was marked way better than expected. Especially considering the reviews on here talking about poor marking. Couple questionable areas around a logging area. Also the area just beyond the Iron Bridge going clockwise seemed poorly marked. Probably would've been easier to go counter clockwise. The first 7-8 miles were quick and rolling. The last 10-12 seemed to be a bit steeper. We didn't cache any water, but a 2 liter bladder and a couple 12oz pops lasted the entire trip. Overall a decent trail. Some neat views. The cliff overlooking the Indian River was pretty cool. Looked at all the cabins. Seemed to be in decent shape and not trashy. It's also February so not a lot of traffic this time of year.
My husband and I completed this trail in 2 days. We started at around 8 AM at the Pioneer Cabin Shelter inside O’Bannon State Park, hiked counter clockwise, and ended at around 3:00 PM the next day. I realize that we should have went clockwise, as all of the shelters are grouped within 12 or so miles on the south east half of the trail and we passed them all on the first day. I thought that was a flaw in the trail design.
We did cached water on Old Forest Road, which was around the half way mark and very close to where we camped for the night.
I noticed in earlier reviews that people commented on how rugged and overgrown the trail had been. I found this to be one of the things I like the most about this trail. It truly made the experience more of an “adventure”. There were quite a few downed trees blocking the trail as well as thorn bushes overgrowing the trail. It had rained heavily the week prior to our hike and there were a lot of areas that were muddy and flowing water. I found this trail to be very physically challenging, but I’ll admit that am not in the greatest physical condition.
The views were a nice change from the corn fields I am used to seeing in Indiana, and we even had a bonus view of the Ohio River when we accidentally took a ½ mile detour near one of the shelters. I posted a pic. We saw some interesting wildlife, including a variety of butterflies, turtles, spiders, and deer.
On the negative side- I was very disappointed to see all the trash left behind at the shelters from previous hikers. The road access where we cached our water was full of left over plastic bottles and trash that seemed to have been accumulating for quite a long time. It breaks my heart to see that kind of negligence.
Cindy S. on Adventure Hiking Trail
This could be an excellent trail, but all of the logging that's being done has completely obliterated the trail in sections. It would be nice if they would remark the trail during logging or better yet, not log near the trail.
My 20 year old daughter and I arrived at the park in time to drop 2 gallons of water at Old Forest Road and at Cold Friday Road. I was using the Falcon Guide to Hiking Indiana as my guide. We went into the park and camped at the Pioneer Shelter. (This is a picnic shelter, not a camping shelter). We made a fire and camped for the night. By 7am, we were on the trail hiking clockwise, following the Falcon Guide. A few comments about the trail.
1). This is a strenuous hike. I have hiked many of Indiana trails and this wins for being the most challenging in some sections.
2) The trail is in good shape in most areas, but not in all areas.
3). We lost the trail in 6-8 spots. Others have placed orange flags in many areas that lead us to the right spot or I would have spent more time looking for the trail. Thanks if you took the time to help in this way. I wish I would have brought ribbons to add to the clarity of the route.
4). Berry bushes have taken over the trail in numerous spots. You might think this sounds crazy, but if I hike this trail again, I would bring a mâché to clear the berry bushes as I walked.
5) Going clockwise, the first 8 miles have the most hills. The last three miles have four to five difficult climbs.
6) The Flacon guide listed a shelter at mile 4.8. However, I didn't see it or it's not there.
7) We made it to Indian Creek Shelter by 3pm and rested till 5pm. This is a great spot to rest. We continued the next 4.4 miles to Old Homestead Shelter. This section had three areas where we lost the trail.
8) We left the next morning by 7am and were back at the car around 10am, tired and ready for a nap.
9. I am grateful this trail is here. It's the longest circular trail in Indiana that I know of. I am grateful for the Shelters. They are not real big, but they will hold 4-6 people. All the shelters have flat grassy areas to pitch a tent. The ladies at the entrance to the park were helpful, supplying updated maps. I would have given this trail 4 stars if the trail could be a little better marked. We hiked at a time where the trail was super wet and many of streams had water. We had an strenuous but enjoyable overnight hiking experience.