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June 6, 2013

THEIR VIEW: Happy trails for Hoosiers

Indiana has an abundance of natural treasures that should never be considered hidden treasures. They are here, well within reach, and the Department of Natural Resources would like nothing more than for more people to use and enjoy them.

They are Indiana’s hiking trails, many of which exist within the state’s extraordinary system of parks and forests. As a prime feature of the parks, the DNR is asking Hoosiers to join in the celebration of the trails system by observing National Trails Day on Saturday.

Dale Brier of the DNR’s Division of Outdoor Recreation says Indiana’s trails are “natural treasures” that provide numerous recreational opportunities, bring together families and friends, enhance quality of life and boost tourism. And they are not as far away as you might think and are continually getting closer. Brier says current trail development means every Hoosier will be within five miles of a trail by 2016.

It was good timing on the part of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to be in Terre Haute on Thursday to cut the ribbon on the area’s latest trail, the Wabashiki Trail at Dewey Point on the west side of the Wabash River. And there will be a guided three-mile hike along the new trail on Saturday in celebration of National Trails Day.

West-central Indiana offers an abundance of trails, and the system is growing, as the Wabashiki’s opening illustrates. But some of the major longtime trails worth visiting exist close by in such places as Turkey Run State Park in northern Parke County or Shakamak State Park in northwestern Greene County.

In all, the DNR Division of State Parks & Reservoirs offers 700 miles of hiking, biking and horse trails. For a list of favorite hikes at state parks and reservoirs by DNR staff, see dnr.IN.gov/healthy. For information about guided walks with interpretive naturalists on trails throughout the year, visit InterpretiveServices.IN.gov.

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