The Pioneer Trail is approximately 53 miles long.
HOOSIER NATIONAL FOREST [APPROX. 18 MI.]
- HNF ACRES in Brown and Jackson Counties will provide approximately 18 miles of trail for the Pioneer section of the KHT, with CAMPING available anywhere. There are also many options nearby for doing part of the HNF, such as Deam Wilderness trails, one of Southern Indiana’s favorite backpacking destinations.
- A provisional KHT route on old tracks has been in use by hikers and hunters for years and pioneers before them. The trail from the end of the Tecumseh (starting at Crooked Creek Road trailhead, near Monroe Reservoir) goes up to Miller/Dan Sipes ridge and follows the middle of the ridge down to Salt Creek. Experienced map readers will have no trouble finding their way. Here the trail crosses a footbridge, then follows a federal land property boundary to the foot of Browning Mountain (Hoosier for “hill”), up the hill to iconic views of the Salt Creek Valley and homestead vestiges, and finally east to connect to the Nebo Bike Trail. This ends at the CR1000 N to Houston near Salt Creek, with more trail on HNF land across the Creek.
- TRAVERSING THIS SECTION: For a two-day hike on the HNF section, hike 2 miles in from Crooked Creek Road to a camp at the end of the TT at Panther Branch—the DNR/HNF property line. Then it’s 6.5 miles to Browning Mtn, pond water, good camp. Next day, 3miles on Browning Ridge connect to 3 miles on the Nebo Trail down to the County Road. On the road for 1.5 miles, then, from the wetlands parking area (or camp here, for shorter hike), cross the creek to 4 miles on Fork Ridge Trail, to a parking area. It’s a 2 mile temporary road walk to complete the section down to Route 58.
- For help with this section, you may Contact the KHTA for current GPS tracks of the proposed KHT route. If you are continuing, you will want to make camp ahead 2-3 miles at the Pioneer barn or Turner purchase land.
PRIVATE LAND EASEMENT SECTION, JACKSON CO. [APPROX. 18.4 MI.]
- From Route 58 and south to trail it’s 1.3 road miles on CR 975 to the amazing ATV park trail and then past Frank Fisher’s restored pioneer barn on 3 miles of trail built on private easements. The Turner purchase land here allows for TRAILSIDE CAMPING at the end of this completed section.
- The next section is 7 miles of temporary road walking, crossing Route 50 to the outstanding Hemlock Bluffs Nature Preserve. Here 2.5 miles of very hilly, pleasant country lanes, part dirt and not maintained in winter, lead past a sometimes challenging crossing of not-always-dry “Dry Creek.”
- Another 4.6 temporary road miles take you to Jackson County’s Sparksville Trailside Park, with covered picnic pavilions, CAMPING AREA with woodlands trail and pond board walk, brand-new KHTA-volunteer-built privy (photo of crew), and clean pump water. [This section includes 3.5 miles of easement trail under construction with great views of the White River Valley.]
- TRAVERSING THIS SECTION: To through-hike this section, camp at Turner’s. From there it’s 7 road miles to Hemlock Bluffs, 2.5 miles on country lanes, then 4.6 miles to the Sparksville Trailside Park. KHTA “trail angels” may be available to help transport packs on this long road stretch [Contact Us] to check out possibilities.
EASEMENT & STATE FOREST, WASHINGTON CO. [APPROX. 16 MI.]
- From Sparksville Park and the White River Bridge approximately 7 miles of road walking leads [1.5 miles of easement trails acquired] to 1.5 miles of constructed easement trails and CAMPING on the Hikers Knob Preserve, whose statuesque chestnut oaks are managed by the Oak Heritage Conservancy. Your steep climb is rewarded with great views.
- Across the road lies a granite stone marker honoring PT land and trail easement donors in Washington Co. From here, 2.5 miles of provisional trail route is planned on Jackson-Washington State Forest land, which will connect to Route 135. [Route is designed, but not approved/built. Road walk available.]
- South 2 miles along the road [several easement trail sections have been acquired here, but one link is missing] takes you to Plattsburg (.4-mi. lane) and historic Pioneer cemetery (photo) and Indian Wars Fort Hattabough site.
- Across the road is the Chestnut Ridge 3-mile provisional section on Jackson-Washington State Forest land. A parking lot has been installed and the trail designed. The PT will lead past a disease-resistant chestnut tree research plantation. Trail building is awaiting bridge construction to connect trail across Delaney Creek to the Knobstone Trail Spurgeon Hollow Trailhead. [A logging track can be followed from the parking lot down to the KT.]
- TRAVERSING THE SECTION: To through-hike this section, divide it in two and camp at Hikers Knob, then hike to the Spurgeon Hollow Trailhead of the original Knobstone Trail. KHTA “trail angels” may be available to help transport packs on this long road stretch [Contact Us] to check out possibilities if you wish to try it in one day.