Explore the most popular backpacking trails in Indiana with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

hiking
9 days ago

Low gap is my go to trail for anywhere near Bloomington Indiana. The 10mi loop trail averages the same elevation change per mile as the Appalachian trail and has a two mile extension in the rock shelter if you're interested in traveling further or wish to see something slightly different from the rest of the trail. I will note that the parking lot on low gap rd is probably best situated for hiking the best this trail offers. I will note that there are dozens of deer that bed inside of this trail, I've seen a puffball mushroom twice the size of my head, and I've seen a jack-o-lantern mushroom bigger than an ice cooler at the rock shelter extension trail head.

Good trail. Watch for valleys.

backpacking
1 month ago

Started Friday evening and finished Sunday afternoon. Was a challenging trip but definitely beautiful. Trail was marked very well, we only had to rely on GPS on a couple of logged areas. Can’t wait to come back and do again!

hiking
1 month ago

Did it as a long day hike. Challenging with lots of up and downs. Look forward to backpacking it. No wildlife sightings. Most of trail easy to follow, although there were a few tricky areas.

I dont know how to create new rails on here but 8 AND 2 ARE COMPLETELY SEPARATE TRAILS!!!! Here are my main take aways of this trail: 1) I can not vouch for 8 because I did not hike it, but trail 2 IS NOT EASY!!! I am an experienced hiker and trail 2 is nearly 5 miles of the most rugged trail Ive ever been on. And in my opinion it is the most rugged trail, per foot, in all of Indiana. Sure, trails like the KT trail are much longer, but for 5 miles this is a butt kicker. This trail is deceptively long because of how rugged it is. Children will slow you down and if you are elderly or handicapped you will NOT BE ABLE TO HIKE THIS TRAIL.
2) If you are traveling north on this trail wanting to see Cliffty Falls you will be "stuck" on trail 2 for the last 15-20 minutes and this is the most rugged area. What I mean by stuck is that the nearby trail 7 & 8 are not accessible so youll see the falls and then return back down trail 2 to leave.
3) Trail 2 is 100% creek bed. So prepare to get wet and prepare for non stop bolder hopping. Just did this trail yesterday and my entire pelvis is sore from the constant twisting and turning your legs are doing trying to stay balanced from rock to rock.
4) This is a beautiful trail with a great water fall at the end. But do not be tricked, you will have to earn the view. THIS TRAIL IS VERY RUGGED!!!!

backpacking
2 months ago

Southern Indiana may have broken some records for rainfall as it poured for five days prior to our trip. Park personnel and conservation officers looked at us like we were crazy for trying the loop after such heavy rainfall - and we were. The trail was impassable in a dozen places and we trekked an extra 6+ miles off trail to get around flooded areas. The lakes were gorgeous, but stay away from this loop in early spring.

Nice trail. I went clockwise like the reviewer below. This saved the best part of the trail for last.

mountain biking
2 months ago

Trail is in great condition right now. Our team of mountain bikers have put in 300+hours trimming and sawing again this year. This trail is difficult but the experience and views are well worth it.

Great trail with awesome lake views !! Easy hike and kid friendly

backpacking
2 months ago

terrain and trail around Indian lake was decent. however, Indian lake was nasty. stunk like stagnant water and was so low you couldn't walk down to the edge to filter water due to the deep mud all the way around the shore. campsites were few and not very close to water. Celina lake looked much nicer but didn't have time to hike around it. I suggest doing this loop counter clockwise and plan to make it to Celina lake before you can find decent campsite. the overall condition and signage of the trail was very good and was great walking. this would be a good early winter hike, summer hikes would be hot and buggy. it's a heavily used trail, we met lots of other overnight backpackers along the trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Great Hike! First time hiking this trail, and I had a blast. I went clockwise from the Forest HQ, and enjoyed keeping rock shelter for later in the hike. It was a great spot to take a break, on a beautiful day. Really enjoyed it, and looking forward to hiking it again.

Went to this are for a backpack hike and camp for 3 days and two nights. Beautiful camped out where the blue river meets the Ohio river great spot! Only downside harassed by DNR trying to leave the park. Not "approved" camping area where we were.

backpacking
2 months ago

Fantastic trail. I started north from Deam Lake on October 19th around 3:45 pm and made it about 12.25 miles before setting up Camp around 9pm. October 20th was a long day; I made it about 23 miles in 12 hours hours. On the 21st, I started off about 9 am, took the trail around the north side of Delaney Park before ending at the around 5:30 pm. To round off my mileage, I hiked the trail south towards Elk Creek. Note: I did a few hours of night hiking before setting up camp each night. If you like night hiking as much as I do, make sure you have a good light and go slow.

The Delaney Loop itself was amazing. If you have just a day and want a good taste of the KT, I would recommend this loop. Again...it’s not easy and I would check with the park before before planning your day. Many trees were marked for harvest.

The weather for my trip was fantastic. Highs around 70, lows in the lower 50’s. I wouldn’t want to hike it in warmer weather but, that’s me...I naturally run hot anyway and due to the general lack of water, higher temperatures could have created problems or, excessively heavy water carries.

In all, the trail is amazing. It is very difficult and arguably dangerous in spots, especially once the leaves started falling. There were spots where the leaves hid the trail surface to the point that you couldn’t see what you were stepping on. There were also spots that weren’t marked very well and because the path was covered with fresh leaves, the obvious trail was hidden. About 6 times I had to stop, back up and find the blazes again before continuing on. Often around creek crossings, around recently fall trees and in two instances, where the KT veered off the forest road I had been on. In those case it was my inattention...I was just walking and wasn’t watching for blazes. In all cases, comparing a map to my All Trails track, got me back on track if I didn’t see the blazes.

Regarding water caches; the DNR map has a driving route between trailheads marked. I followed this to make my drops. Based on the distance between drops, 1 gallon per person was enough. I addition to the obvious locations, I would add the following: the New Chapel Trailhead is not on the KT. From the trail it was a short but, unnecessary hike up a hill to get to my water. Drive past the trailhead on Liberty Knob Road to the bottom of the hill. Cache your water where the trail crosses the road. It’s easy to find and you can thank me later. The Leota trailhead confused me as well. I didn’t see the actual trailhead while I was driving - when I was hiking it was obvious. I ended up pulling off the the side of a steep road (New Salem Finley Knob) near where the KT crosses, and cached water beside the guard rail. In actuality, the trailhead is just north of the road crossing and is a very short drive. You don’t need to park on the side of the road. I would also recommend making a drop at the Elk Creek trailhead, though it is a short walk from the parking lot. I thought I would have access to the lake in this area but, ended up passing the best access point near a campsite around mm 32. I was hoping for a better spot but, didn’t find one and ended up refilling from a spare jug at the trailhead. The last, not so obvious spot that I cached water, was off of West Point Road, on the back side of the reroute, just before mm 42. I did this to make sure I was carrying enough through the Delaney Loop. If you head towards Spurgeon Hollow first, you should be fine. For the record, when I got to my water, I drank as much as I could and left with 2.75 liters. I didn’t want to run out and need to drink a lot.

Regarding the reroute around mm 41: this project may be done soon from the looks of it but, who knows. As noted in previous reviews of the trail, there is a house on Pull Tight Road that has roaming dogs that will come out and bark. I talked to the owner and he said that he didn’t realize that they scared hikers and has been “trying to put them up if he thinks people are out.” I have been by the house twice and haven’t had any issues with the dogs, just keep walking. On the other side of the reroute, there is a house with some chickens, Guineafowl and a Doberman named “Smoke”. Both the owner and dog are harmless. One wants to sniff you, the other wants to talk to you. You’ll have to sort out the details.

If you have any questions, let me know. I am not an expert but, am happy to help.

Also, Tim from Snappy Shuttle Service is a nice guy. Call him ahead of time to arrange a ride if needed. His rates are fair and running his service helps him stay connected to the community since his health keeps him off the trail these days.

backpacking
2 months ago

Fantastic trail. I started north from Deam Lake on October 19th around 3:45 pm and made it about 12.25 miles before setting up Camp around 9pm. October 20th was a long day; I made it about 23 miles in 12 hours hours. On the 21st, I started off about 9 am, took the trail around the north side of Delaney Park before ending at the around 5:30 pm. To round off my mileage, I hiked the trail south towards Elk Creek. Note: I did a few hours of night hiking before setting up camp each night. If you like night hiking as much as I do, make sure you have a good light and go slow.

The Delaney Loop itself was amazing. If you have just a day and want a good taste of the KT, I would recommend this loop. Again...it’s not easy and I would check with the park before before planning your day. Many trees were marked for harvest.

The weather for my trip was fantastic. Highs around 70, lows in the lower 50’s. I wouldn’t want to hike it in warmer weather but, that’s me...I naturally run hot anyway and due to the general lack of water, higher temperatures could have created problems or, excessively heavy water carries.

In all, the trail is amazing. It is very difficult and arguably dangerous in spots, especially once the leaves started falling. There were spots where the leaves hid the trail surface to the point that you couldn’t see what you were stepping on. There were also spots that weren’t marked very well and because the path was covered with fresh leaves, the obvious trail was hidden. About 6 times I had to stop, back up and find the blazes again before continuing on. Often around creek crossings, around recently fall trees and in two instances, where the KT veered off the forest road I had been on. In those case it was my inattention...I was just walking and wasn’t watching for blazes. In all cases, comparing a map to my All Trails track, got me back on track if I didn’t see the blazes.

Regarding water caches; the DNR map has a driving route between trailheads marked. I followed this to make my drops. Based on the distance between drops, 1 gallon per person was enough. I addition to the obvious locations, I would add the following: the New Chapel Trailhead is not on the KT. From the trail it was a short but, unnecessary hike up a hill to get to my water. Drive past the trailhead on Liberty Knob Road to the bottom of the hill. Cache your water where the trail crosses the road. It’s easy to find and you can thank me later. The Leota trailhead confused me as well. I didn’t see the actual trailhead while I was driving - when I was hiking it was obvious. I ended up pulling off the the side of a steep road (New Salem Finley Knob) near where the KT crosses, and cached water beside the guard rail. In actuality, the trailhead is just north of the road crossing and is a very short drive. You don’t need to park on the side of the road. I would also recommend making a drop at the Elk Creek trailhead, though it is a short walk from the parking lot. I thought I would have access to the lake in this area but, ended up passing the best access point near a campsite around mm 32. I was hoping for a better spot but, didn’t find one and ended up refilling from a spare jug at the trailhead. The last, not so obvious spot that I cached water, was off of West Point Road, on the back side of the reroute, just before mm 42. I did this to make sure I was carrying enough through the Delaney Loop. If you head towards Spurgeon Hollow first, you should be fine. For the record, when I got to my water, I drank as much as I could and left with 2.75 liters. I didn’t want to run out and need to drink a lot.

Regarding the reroute around mm 41: this project may be done soon from the looks of it but, who knows. As noted in previous reviews of the trail, there is a house on Pull Tight Road that has roaming dogs that will come out and bark. I talked to the owner and he said that he didn’t realize that they scared hikers and has been “trying to put them up if he thinks people are out.” I have been by the house twice and haven’t had any issues with the dogs, just keep walking. On the other side of the reroute, there is a house with some chickens, Guineafowl and a Doberman named “Smoke”. Both the owner and dog are harmless. One wants to sniff you, the other wants to talk to you. You’ll have to sort out the detail.

hiking
3 months ago

Is there anywhere near the trail to set up a pop-up camper to boon-dock?

I really enjoyed this trail although it is tough and not for beginners. I highly recommend taking trekking poles. I did not have them and it was still doable but there are several tough areas where they would come in handy! There are a lot of elevation changes. Definitely a difficult trail and like I said before, not for beginners, but it’s beautiful! Word of advice, look for the white marks on trees if you aren’t sure where to go or if you lose the trail for a minute. Some areas can get a little confusing but the white marks on the trees helped keep me on track.

Great trail!

backpacking
3 months ago

great trail. very scenic.

backpacking
3 months ago

Really beautiful trail! Pretty easy to walk--elevation changes were for the most part gradual and not too steep. The trail was incredibly well marked and easy to follow, even with lots of dry stream beds and fallen leaves covering the trail. Very quiet. Lots of really nice places to camp along both lakes. Doesn't get much better than this in Indiana!

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