TRAIL MORE TRAVELED
Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Editor, [email protected]
The Indian Creek Trail appears to be getting a workout during this time of social distancing, so much so that temporary restrictions have been implemented.
The Harrison County Parks Dept., which oversees the trail system, recently placed signs that detail the regulations designed to follow guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help reduce the spread of the novel coronavirus. Among the regulations are the hours the trail is open: from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. with 10 a.m. to noon reserved for those considered to be high risk for COVID-19 as determined by the CDC (persons 60 and older, those who have a serious heart condition, diabetes, chronic lung disease or severe asthma, chronic kidney disease, liver disease or are immunocompromised or live in a nursing home or long-term care facility).
Those wishing to use bicycles, skate boards, roller blades, scooters and similar devices are to do so between 7 p.m. until the trail closes for the day.
And, the parks department says only members of the same household should walk together, doing so in groups of no more than two abreast.
Nathan Broom, past president of Indian Creek Trail Inc., said the group was notified mid-April that tighter regulations would be placed on the trail due to increased usage.
“We’re advocating for respectful sharing of the trail by all users,” he said, adding that ICT committee members have provided some input to the parks department since the signs went up late last month.
The ICT group also plans to offer some education sessions about expectations and speed recommendations by various types of trail users.
For interested bicyclists, the ICT Inc., which is a non-profit organization, has bike bells available at no charge that can serve to alert other trail users that they are being approached. Anyone interested in obtaining a bell should message Indian Creek Trail through its Facebook page.
Broom has been monitoring usage of three sections of the trail: Doolittle, which runs between the west bridge and the YMCA of Harrison County; Hayswood, between Hayswood Nature Reserve and Big Indian Creek; and the newest portion, which was named after Bill Gerdon, between the west bridge and Big Indian Creek.
He said usage of the Hayswood and Gerdon sections more than doubled from February to March, while use on the Doolittle portion also is up but not dramatically. (The infrared counters were installed in August, so annual comparisons are not yet available.) The Gerdon section is where last year’s Leadership Harrison County, in conjunction with the Harrison County Public Library, installed book panels for the Adventure Walk.
Broom believes Indiana’s stay-at-home order during the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the increased usage as well as the overall beauty of the area where the trail is located.
“People love the beauty and love the wildlife they are seeing there,” Broom said.
Numerous trail users have shared photos, both of wildlife as well as family experiences on the trail, they’ve taken on the ICT Facebook page, which other visitors to the page are enjoying.
Broom said he’s noticed the quickly changing foliage of the wildflowers and different species of trees.
“April is on course to see record use of the trail,” he said, reminding users to be respectful of others and to practice social distancing.