Knobstone Trail reopens after tornado damage 

click to enlarge Knobstone Trail vista overlooking Kentuckiana's famous knobs topography. The Louisville skyline is visible on the horizon. - COURTESY OF EREZETH VIA FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
  • Knobstone Trail vista overlooking Kentuckiana's famous knobs topography. The Louisville skyline is visible on the horizon.
  • Courtesy of Erezeth via Flickr Creative Commons
The entire length of the Knobstone Trail in Southern Indiana will reopen to hikers next week after being closed 18 months to repair tornado damage.

The official opening of the affected trail areas and the Jackson Road Trailhead is Oct. 11. However, work on damaged horse trails continues and those won't reopen until later this year.

"We expect to see great interest from hikers and visitors," said Dan Ernst, assistant director of the forestry division at the Indiana Department of Forestry. "They will be able to hike through and see close-up the large tornado impact area."

The sections of the trail were closed after storms tore through the region on March 2, 2012. The F4 rated tornado - the same one that struck the town of Henryville - damaged 4.5 miles of trail that run through the Clark State Forest. That included the popular Round Knob area.

The DNR forestry division worked with volunteers from the Knobstone Trail Crew, Hoosier Hikers Council, Burris Laboratory School, Ball State University and Wilderness Outreach to restore the trail and trailhead.

Rocky Brown, the naturalist at Deam Lake, will offer guided hikes of the damaged area of the trail beginning Oct. 18. Contact the Deam Lake office for details at (812) 246-5421.

The Knobstone Trail is Indiana's longest footpath. It is a rugged, 58-mile backcountry hiking trail that passes through Clark and Jackson-Washington state forests.

The tornado left a 49-mile path of destruction, killing 11 people. It also damaged 7,500 acres of forestland, including 1,300 acres in Clark State Forest.

Salvage and recovery of nearly 4 million board feet of timber will be completed in November.

Tornado damage also closed more than 15 miles of popular horse trails in Clark State Forest. Restoration of horse trails is nearing completion and a re-opening is expected by the end of the year.

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