Knobstone Trail: About
TRAILHEADS have been developed along the trail for parking. There are "KT" posts (4-foot brown posts with the letters "KT" in yellow near the top) at the entrance roads to the trailheads and information signs at the parking areas.
BLAZES, 3-inch by 6-inch white paint blazes, near eye level on trees to the right of the trail, mark the location of the trail. Two blazes indicate a possible change in direction of the trail and that the next blaze should be found before continuing.
PRIMITIVE BACKPACK CAMPING is allowed along the trail only on public lands at least one mile, by trail, away from all roads, recreation areas, and trailheads, and out of sight from the trail and all lakes. Campgrounds are located at Delaney Park, Clark State Forest, and Deam Lake State Recreation Area.
OVERNIGHT TRAIL USERS should consider registering at:
South Region Headquarters
4850 S. St. Rd. 446
Bloomington, IN 47401
EVERYTHING CARRIED IN IS TO BE CARRIED OUT. Please respect these regulations, or camping may have to be prohibited in many areas.
HORSES AND WHEELED VEHICLES are not allowed on the trail. No mountain bikes, ATVs, motorcycles, or other motorized vehicles.
WATER is NOT available from most of the streams shown on the map near the trail because they are dry during much of the year. Hikers need to provide their own water supply.
TICKS maybe found in the area of the trail. Click here for more tickborne diseases.
EMERGENCIES should be directed to the South Region Headquarters (listed above)
TRAIL ROUTES may change due to environmental conditions or property management activities. Re-routes will be marked.
Other Recreational Areas near the Knobstone are:
- Jackson - Washington State Forest or 812-358-2160
- Clark State Forest or 812-294-4306
- Deam Lake State Recreation Area or 812-246-5421
- Delaney Park or 812-883-5101
- Starve-Hollow State Recreation Area or 812-358-3464
History and Background
The Knobstone Trail (KT) is Indiana's longest footpath - a 58-mile backcountry-hiking trail passing through Clark State Forest, Elk Creek Public Fishing Area, and Jackson-Washington State Forest. These state resource properties contain more than 42,000 acres of rugged, forested land in Clark, Scott and Washington counties in southern Indiana. The trail extends from Deam Lake, just north of S.R. 60 in Clark County, to Delaney Park, just east of S.R. 135 in Washington County. The initial 32-mile segment of the trail was opened in 1980.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources has developed the Knobstone Trail as a cooperative effort between the Divisions of Fish and Wildlife, Forestry and Outdoor Recreation. The Division of Outdoor Recreation's Streams and Trails Section coordinates development and maintenance of the trail. The Nature Conservancy has helped acquire land necessary to complete the trail corridor. Construction and maintenance of the trail has been aided by many hours of volunteer work donated by various hiking clubs and other groups. Much of the initial trail construction was accomplished through the Young Adult Conservation Corps program.
The Knobstone Trail passes primarily through state forests, which are managed for "multiple use" to obtain maximum benefits from recreation, timber and wildlife production, and watershed protection. They are open to the public for hunting during season, and are managed actively to increase the fish and wildlife population. The harvesting of timber provides valuable income for the state of Indiana. Timber management and harvesting also provide diverse cover and food necessary for the perpetuation of many game and non-game animal species, and helps ensure that our forest resources will be available for future generations.
The trail traverses land with extreme relief distinguished by narrow, relatively flat-topped ridges typical of the Knobstone Escarpment - a knobby slope between the Norman Upland and Scottsburg Lowland, two of southern Indiana's natural land regions. The Knobstone Escarpment is one of Indiana's most scenic areas, rising more than 300 feet above low-lying farmland in some areas as it snakes northward from near the Ohio River to just south of Martinsville. A central upland, mixed hardwood forest (oak-hickory and beech-maple association) dominates much of the escarpment. "Knobstone" shale, which is actually a combination of weathered brown shale, sandstone and siltstone, is common in the area and gives the escarpment its name.
The Knobstone Trail is developed and managed for foot traffic only. Because of erosion, damage to structures, and the safety of hikers, horses, bicycles, and motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
Because the trail follows the Knobstone Escarpment, there are many steep climbs and descents. It can be regarded as a rugged, difficult trail to hike. It is managed and maintained at backcountry standards, and structures are limited to primitive steps and waterbars. Maintenance responsibilities fall to a two-person field crew, occasionally assisted by volunteers.
The trail crosses several roads, varying from state highways to gravel country lanes. Use caution when crossing these roads.
Eight trailheads have been developed along the trail, providing parking areas and direct access to the Knobstone Trail. The Delaney Park Trailhead is located within Delaney Park, a Washington County Park that includes facilities for camping, cabins, showers, and a gated entrance. The Elk Creek Trailhead is located at a public access site on Elk Creek Lake. The parking area for the lake and trail is paved. All of the other trailheads include a small gravel parking area.
Following the Trail
The Knobstone Trail map shows the general route of the trail and the topography of the area. Minor reroutes have been constructed over the past few years to avoid some problem areas, and they are not indicated on the map. On the ground, the trail is marked by 2-inch by 6-inch white blazes painted near eye level on trees. Two blazes on a tree indicate the trail changes direction at an intersection with another trail or forest road. Attempts are made to mark the trail so that it is easy to follow. Trees which fall on the trail because of natural events can make it more challenging. Therefore, it is important to utilize both the map and the blazes while hiking the trail.
While using the trail, stay on public property. In some areas, the trail follows a very narrow corridor of public property. The KT map shows the public property boundaries. Hikers are responsible for helping maintain good relations between hikers and private property owners.
The trail map is available at Jackson-Washington State Forest near Brownstown (812-358-2160) and at Starve-Hollow State Recreation Area near Vallonia (812-358-3464) or from DNR Map Sales (317-232-4200). They are usually available at Clark State Forest's office (812-294-4306) in Henryville, the Deam Lake State Recreation Area's (812-246-5421) office near Borden. The maps are available for $10.00 from the properties only during office hours.
The Knobstone Trail passes primarily through state forests, which are managed for "multiple use" to obtain maximum benefits from recreation, timber, and wildlife production and watershed protection. They are open to the public for hunting during season, and are actively managed to increase the fish and wildlife population. Trails are developed, along with other recreational projects, to be compatible with the growth and harvest of timber and to retain the watershed protection that forests naturally provide. The harvesting of timber provides valuable income for the state of Indiana. Timber management and harvesting also provide diverse cover and food necessary for the perpetuation of many game and non-game animal species and helps insure that our forest resources will be available for future generations.
For more information on the Knobstone Trail, contact:
Jackson-Washington State Forest
1278 E. S.R. 250
Brownstown, IN 47220
(812) 358-5837 Fax