50-Mile Thru-Hikes: Knobstone Trail, IN

Climb high (really!) in the Midwest.

(45 miles, 3-5 days)

Four hundred feet of incline here, 400 feet there, and before you know it, you’re talking serious elevation. That’s how it goes on the KT, Indiana’s resounding rebuttal to misconceptions that the state is basketball-court flat.

In 45 miles, the Knobstone racks up a Rockies-esque 10,500 feet of elevation gain while riding a rugged escarpment that starts within eyeshot of Louisville, Kentucky. When united with its northern section (now called the Tecumseh Trail), the KT will extend a hard-to-ignore 140 miles. But it’s not just hills that distinguish the KT. You’ll pass through thickly forested hollows, cross rocky outcrops, gain tree-top vistas, and likely hear coyotes yip in the night. Start from the north in Delaney Creek State Park, leaving the hardest climbs and best views for the end. (317) 232-4029;

The way South trailhead: From Louisville, take I-65 north six miles to IN 60. Go nine miles to Deam Lake State Recreation Area. North trailhead: From Salem, IN, take IN 135 for 8.4 miles to E. Rooster Hill Rd. Go 2.3 miles to Delaney Creek State Park.

Shuttle Go Deep Adventures ($65/two hikers, 812-967-4620)

Season May for leaf-out. Mid-October for colors. Must cache water from July to September.

Guidebook and mapHiking Indiana, by Phil Bloom ($17,; Indiana DNR Knobstone Trail Topo Map ($4, 317-232-4180)