The nation’s “longest non-motorized trail” will be putting Northwest Indiana
on its’ map.
Coordinators for the American Discovery Trail announced a re-route for the
6,800 mile-long trail which now includes Porter County as well as new routes
in LaPorte, Lake and Starke Counties during Thursday’s Cornucopia State of
Our Trails hosted by the Northwest Indiana Regional Planning Commission.
NIRPC Non-Motorized Transportation and Greenways Planner Mitch Barloga said
the new route runs through the south half of Porter County near the towns of
Kouts and Hebron and then curves into Lake County, meeting up with a trail
in Crown Point, then will hook into Illinois along the south suburbs of
As coordinators Jeff Edmondson of Indiana and Ders Anderson mentioned, the
American Discovery Trail, developed in 1991 through efforts of the American
Hiking Society, stretches from the Californian Pacific coastline near San
Francisco to the Cape Henlopen Delaware State Park. Currently it is
connected to ten national historic trails, numerous scenic trails and
crosses thousands of historical sites.
“It’s not what you would call a weekend excursion,” said Barloga.
Most of the trail, Barloga said, moves along low-traffic country roads for
safety but does find its way into larger metropolitan areas. The trail is
predominantly designed for hiking and biking but there are some sections
that can be used for horseback riding.
Barloga said coordinators look to link routes to campgrounds and hotels for
The trail takes both northern and southern routes, splitting in Denver and
merging in Cincinnati. Both routes enter Indiana from Illinois with the
Kankakee River to the North and Mt. Vernon to the South.
The new route veers more to the north when it reaches Rochester, Ind.,
heading east through North Judson and towards the Northwest Indiana region.
The ADT will possibly link into Lake County trail systems such as the Erie
Lackawanna Trail, Thorn Creek Trail and the Pennsy Greenway.
“The whole idea of bringing the trail up to where the trails are developing
is a no-brainer,” said Anderson.
Funding for the trail has been mainly through local and volunteer efforts as
it does not own any property in its system. It is overseen by the American
Trail Discovery Society which decided to direct the ADT into Northwest
Indiana because of the “abundance of trails,” said Anderson.
More connectivity is planned in Illinois, connecting Lansing to Joliet in
just a few years, he added.
Edmondson said trail users can “literally ride their bikes” to the state
line in Richmond all the way to the East Coast.
Anderson and Edmondson said the new maps are not on the Trail’s website yet
but the turn-by-turn directions will be posted soon.
Also at the event, local trail engineers, enthusiasts, and parks departments
from Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties shared what their current plans are.
SEH engineer Gregg Calpino briefed the group on the planned refurbishment of
the Calumet Trail in north Porter County which will be paved, starting at
Mineral Springs Road working east toward Tremont Road, with the $2 million
the county has received in federal and local grants.
More public input sessions for the Calumet Trail will be scheduled soon,
Calpino said, with work scheduled to begin sometime next year.
Representatives from the state said their goal is to have every Hoosier in
Indiana be within 10 miles of a walking trail. Studies have shown that
trails improve the quality of life for an area.
Meanwhile, National Park Service Outdoor Recreation Planner Rory Robinson
warned the attendees that this year’s sequestering of the U.S. Federal
Budget has resulted in major funding cuts for the NPS which will likely
affect local trail systems.