The Adventure Trail is a 23 mile loop trail through the rolling hills of southern Indiana's Harrison-Crawford State Forest. Located about half an hour west of Louisville, KY, the trail is easily accessible from I-64. It is near Corydon, Indiana's first state capital and site of the only Civil War battle fought on Indiana soil. Also nearby is the Wyandotte Woods SRA, the Wyandotte Caves SRA, and several other caving attractions. Topographical maps of the trail are available at the park office and also from the Indiana DNR. Camping is allowed anywhere along the trail, provided that the campsite is at least one mile from any road and 100 yards off the trail.
My 11 year old son and I hiked the Adventure Trail in late October 2001. We arrived at the park Sunday evening, parked along the road near a shelter house, and set off along the trail. It didn't take long for us to encounter our first hill as we were faced with a steep incline, followed by a series of rolling ups and downs. Dusk fell as we made our way along. We walked about half an hour in darkness, finding our way along by the green blazes with our mini-Maglites. We set up camp, dug a pit, lit a fire, and enjoyed some ice-cold McDonald's that we had picked up on the way to the park.
That night was crisp and cold, getting down into the mid-30s. The forest was alive with sounds, animal and otherwise, that kept us awake and alert.
After a restless night that featured coyote calls, deer crashing through the underbrush, and an owl, we fixed breakfast, broke camp, and hit the trail around 9:00. The trail presented a challenging set of hills before we emerged along a ridge top overlooking the Ohio River. We passed one of the three overnight shelters, all of which proved to be well-constructed wood buildings. The trail followed along the ridge for a couple of miles, offering somewhat obscured views of the Ohio River from several hundred feet up, then dipped away from the river into another series of challenging ups and downs that lasted for several miles. This area of the trail was not particularly well-marked, and several times we had to scout around for the next green blaze or piece of green ribbon. We sighted a few deer, and signs of many more, as well as numerous birds and squirrels. We also came across the ruins of a house formerly occupied by an early Hoosier settler.
As the day progressed, I began to be concerned about our water supply. On the Adventure Trail water is scarce, at least in the fall months. We crossed several streambeds, all of which were either dry or filled with an inch or two of stagnant water full of decaying leaves. Those planning to hike this trail should either cache water at one of the several road access points, or make sure to carry an ample supply. As we emerged from the trees to cross a road, a local resident saw us and stopped to talk. He ended up giving us an ice cold Pepsi that really hit the spot.
Crossing the road, we plunged downhill several hundred feet. Again, the trail was not particularly well-marked in this section, but we were able pick our way along as the sun set. After traversing three sets of ups and downs, we stopped, set up our tent, and built a small fire. As we did we were again blessed to hear coyotes singing in the distance.
After a much more restful night, we started off again at 7:30. We heard scattered shots in the distance--probably squirrel hunters. About 45 minutes down the trail, we came to a beautiful sight--a spring of cold, clear water. We drank the water we had remaining, then filled all of our water bottles and canteens with this delicious lifesaver, taking care to purify it before drinking. Finding this bonanza--unmarked on the map--really boosted our spirits, and our pace picked up accordingly. After a few miles of rolling terrain, the trail descended and followed along in the floodplain of the Blue River, an Ohio River tributary. Footing was fine, but I suspect that this section of the trail can get pretty muddy in the wet Spring months. As we approached an old railroad bridge, we came to an opening to the river. My son took advantage of this as he went down to the water's edge and dunked his head in.
Shortly the trail climbed and dipped through another series of hills, skirted the edge of the campground (yet did not emerge into it), and then began a gradual descent that lasted a mile or more. As the trail reached a park road and we cleared the woods, we saw our truck, and the it hit us: we had completed the Adventure Trail.
In thinking back to our hiking experience, a couple of observations are in order. First, there is a multitude of bridle paths in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest, and the Adventure Trail crosses them in numerous places. Only extremely rarely, however, do hikers and riders share the same path. It would be helpful if the hiking trail map showed the bridle trails. Second, it would be helpful if the trail had mile markers on it, so hikers could judge their progress more easily. Third, prospective hikers need to be sure to take along plenty of water, because the trail is dry, especially at the southern end. Finally, the trail is poorly marked in some sections; this may have been aggravated by the fact that fallen leaves had covered the path by late October. Still, Adventure Trail hikers need to know how to use a compass and how to read a topographical map.
The Adventure Trail was a good first hike for my son. We enjoyed the challenge of covering its 23 miles, and now anticipate other adventures on other trails.