The 48 mile Knobstone Trail is Indiana’s longest natural surface foot path. It’s a very popular backcountry trail that runs along high ridges of southern Indiana’s Clark and Jackson State Forests, offering great views of the wooded foothills of southern Indiana with various glimpses, from time to time, of the Ohio River and even Louisville in the distance on a clear day. The trail is managed and maintained by Indiana’s Department of Natural Resources in Clark, Scott, and Washington counties with assistance from various volunteer groups in southern Indiana.
The path is duly named after it’s unique Knobstone ridge of land over which it tracks. This trail has steep drop-offs between the high lands areas in the west section and the low lands section in the east. This drop-off area, which is the Knobstone escarpment, is a broad line which runs generally north-northwest and is very distinctive for its high, flat narrow ridges and steep sides creating the “knobby” hill for which the trail is named. While the hills are relatively low in elevation, the ruggedness of the land makes the Knobstone Trail one of Indiana’s best natural training grounds for those hikers training for trips to more mountainous areas and is often compared to the Appalachian Trail. The path is well blazed, and every mile is marked with a brown numbered sign which will provide you with an easy reference, navigation and progress checks. The trail is rated moderate to difficult. Dogs are allowed on the trail but must be kept on a leash.
One can access the trail head in Scott County at Elk Creek Lake’s (N38” 39.044’ W 85” 56.947’) parking lot. The trail leads from the southeast end of the Elk Creek Trailhead parking lot and meanders around the south shore of the lake. It then rises about 170 feet to a ridge top, providing the hiker a view of the lake and surrounding valley. The trail then drops back to the lake level and continues eastward out of the state fish and wildlife area toward Clark State Forest. This section of the trail provides the hiker with a variety of ridgetops and bottomlands. The trail also passes through some large clearings created by logging operations. These clearings provide excellent wildlife habitat-deer, grouse and other species may be observed here. The trail rises to an elevation of 1,000 feet as it reaches the Leota Trailhead. The trail is approximately 7 miles in length between the Elk Creek and Leota Trailheads.
Leota Trailhead (N38” 38.497’ W85” 53.271’) crosses several steep ridges as it heads south from the Leota Trailhead through the Clark State Forest backcountry area. It then drops into the lush North Branch Valley, one of the most scenic areas along the trail (abundant ferns, wildflowers, and very large trees), before winding its way up a very steep, north-facing slope. The trail then traverses rolling to rugged terrain again, past a few wildlife ponds, to the New Chapel Trailhead. The total length of this segment is approximately 9 miles in length from the Leota Trailhead to the New Chapel Trailhead
Before beginning on any Knobstone hiking trip it is strongly recommended to check the Indiana DNR website where trail closures or re-routes will be posted due to environmental conditions or temporary forest management operations may impact your fun!
For more Knobstone Trail hiking information and trail conditions visit: