Chesterton Tribune

 

 

New American Discovery Trail route will cross south Porter County

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

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 Chicago.

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 trail users.

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.

 

 

Posted 4/26/2013