This central section of the Knobstone Trail roughly parallels Interstate 65, mile 19 to 29—Henryville to Scottsburg. From the southern Knobstone region the trail has been snaking north and gradually west to reach the New Chapel Trailhead. It then turns north for some 7-8 miles until it reaches Leota Trailhead at about trail mile 24 1/2. Not far north of Leota is an abrupt west turn, where the trail marches toward Elk Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area. The Elk Creek Trailhead lies between trail mile markers 31 and 32. All together, the New Chapel to Elk Creek hike along the Knobstone comprises approximately 15 miles.
The KT pathway still follows Clark State Forest , and its central landscape often ranges between elevations of 800 to 1000 feet along the steep ridges, the higher elevation being near Leota. The way this trail is laid out, if one could not take the several consecutive days it requires to hike it all at once, it is hike-able in weekend sections between the trailheads.
For those wanting to pack a fishing rod, the southern end of the central Knobstone has a choice of seven lakes, ranging in size from 2 to 18 acres. They can be reached via the main state forest entrance, on U. S. 31, which parallels Interstate 65. Use exit 19, at the town of Henryville , turn east onto SR 160 to get to U. S. 31; then left (north), to get to the forest entry road. There is a state forest office about a mile inside this main entrance where one can get maps of the Knobstone Trail and the state forest, information on mountain bike trails, horse trails, shorter hiking trails in Clark State Forest, White Oak Nature Preserve, hunting, and other help, if need be. Some maps require a fee.
DRIVING TO TRAILHEADS FROM INTERSTATE 65
To reach the New Chapel Trailhead by road, turn west from Exit 19 (Henryville) on I-65. After six miles, turn right onto Liberty Knob Road . The trailhead is another ½ mile on the right-hand side, in the woods, with a small parking lot. If starting from the state forest entrance, this is about 7 miles. On the way, you will cross rolling farmland interspersed with woodlands at first, but then the road climbs the Knobstone Escarpment through curvy, hilly, and heavily forested terrain. Before you get to the top and the Liberty Knob Road turnoff, you will pass quickly through Clark, Scott, and Washington Counties . There is a large sign marking the trailhead, and watch out for 4-wheelers, on the trail and off, though they are not supposed to be on the trail!
Leota Trailhead is between New Chapel and Elk Creek and is most easily reached via Scottsburg, exit 29 on I-65, and then
west via SR 56, left onto CR400W, jog left briefly onto Bloomington Trail Road (SR 39), then right onto Leota Road . Go 1.3 miles, turn right onto Saylor Road , curving off to the right at the top of the knob. There is a “KT” post here; turn right at .1 mile onto the gravel Leota Trailhead entry road. Look for another “KT” post.
By trail, the Elk Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area is about seven miles due west of Leota Trailhead. The trail leads around and/or above the lake’s south shore, at one point reaching some 8-900 feet in elevation. Deer, grouse, and other wildlife may be seen in this area. To get to the trailhead from I-65, again, go west on State Road 56 (not old 56), through the stop sign, to Elk Creek Road , where you turn left. This paved road goes on into the parking lots, also paved, and the trailhead entry. The road to the trailhead is more open than New Chapel, traveling through Indiana farmscapes; you will see Elk Creek dam before turning onto the road to the lake. All together, it is eleven miles from the I-65 exit at Scottsburg to the parking lot by the trail. There is also a boat ramp available.
Elk Creek Lake lies at the base of the Knobstone hills, covered with mixed deciduous and evergreen trees at this location. It has a pleasant feel, whether you fish, hike, try birding or even some artwork, or just watch the scenery.
Besides hiking activities, there are some other noteworthy places one can look into in this area. The modern history of this state forest goes all the way back to Revolutionary War times, when George Rogers Clark was given a land grant for his military services, much of which later became the state forest. First designated in 1903 as a state forest, it is Indiana ’s oldest. It originally was 2000 acres, and now covers 24,000 acres.
Henryville, Indiana, at exit 19 on Interstate 65, is home not only to the State Forest headquarters, but in addition has a
privately-owned botanical retreat called Cathedral Gardens. If golf is your thing, look up the two Fuzzy Zoeller courses in this area, Covered Bridge and Champions’ Point. North of Henryville is the Pigeon Roost Massacre historical marker, on U. S. 31.
Further afield, in Starlight, Indiana is The Forest Discovery Center, with an indoor forest re-creation and trail. The town of Salem has the Stevens Museum of antique agricultural implements and household items, along with Indian artifacts. Salem also has had a motor speedway since 1947. North on I-65, at Seymour (Exit 50) the wine enthusiast can find Chateau de Pique Winery.
A bit further from the trail--southeast of Scottsburg-- Lexington , Indiana contains an 1821 courthouse and the original seat of Scott County . In Lexington, the stately Double-Arch Bridge on the B & O Railroad line can be viewed. If you wish further historical information from this region, visit the Scott County Heritage Center and Museum, in Scottsburg. There is a summer farmers' market on the Scottsburg square by the Courthouse, as well as antique dealers and restaurants.
by Jane Conrad