Homecoming on the Trails of Wabash County

By: David Nelson

There is no such thing as hiking season for me. For I enjoy all four seasons Indiana’s climate offers. There is no letting up even during winter. I’m as eager in wintertime to lace up a pair of hikers as during any season.

Treks to the woods don’t lessen, the layers of clothing just increase. Thermal, flannel, and fleece feel like a hug from a dear friend. Just as welcoming is nature’s embrace on a wintry day as I hike many miles deep into Hoosier woodlands. And they abound with solitude and serenity for a soul.

Paradise Spring Historical Park in downtown Wabash Indiana.
Paradise Spring Historical Park

Lately, I’ve found such solace on several trails in Wabash County. Most recently, I’ve made several treks along the Wabash River Trail. Each time discovering more and more this wonderful stretch of terrain has to offer.

Wabash River Trail in Wabash Indiana.
Wabash River Trail

It’s literary just a stone throw from my office. More than once, I’ve finished a day’s work and found myself on the trail in minutes. Winter’s bite irrelevant as I inhaled cold, fresh, crisp, clean air. Other times, returned on a day off to take on a lengthier journey. Depending the trailhead where one begins, a hiker can venture on an out-and-back trek of 10 or 12 miles to Lagro. It’s a wonderful walk mixed with woods and vistas of beautiful countryside.

I fill a tinge of pity for those glib about embracing winter; instead, holding firmly to clichéd labels. Knee-deep in doldrums, they are apt to toss about words such as blah, bleak, and boring. Really? Wintertime is a great opportunity to truly look closely at a tree. Many have an intricate display of bark adorned with rich texture. Or the smooth, milky white bark of the birch. Then there is the wildlife.

Squirrel on the Wabash River Trail in Wabash Indiana.
Squirrel on the Wabash River Trail

For it is wintertime when it is much easier to see our furry and feathered friends out and about. Without the leaves of the deciduous trees, one can watch all sorts of critters scurry about. Sometimes, if feeling comfortable with human companionship, squirrels will snack on a treat just feet away from hikers. Deer may be trusting enough to walk within a few yards of a trail allowing a long-lasting view of their fawns and yearlings. Quite a sight I’ve been blessed to see. Let us not forget the display of power and grace above from the eagle. Any given day, one can walk the Wabash River Trail and wonder at these majestic creatures in flight. I’ve even been fortunate enough to see one call for its young for a feeding.

Salamonie State Forest in Wabash County Indiana.
Salamonie State Forest

For those feeling a bit adventurous, Salamonie Lake’s Bloodroot Trail  may be just the answer to ease some wanderlust. The 13-mile trail offers hiker a moderately challenging trail filled with wonderful views.

Wabash County offers much for the outdoor enthusiasts. Especially the hiker or backpacker seeking nothing more than what nature has to offer.

Unfettered and free with only the essentials on my back. A daypack with a few snacks and a thermos with warm cocoa. It is a peaceful, joyous day to find one’s stride within nature. If snow is afoot, all the better. This is where I find the best version of myself.

Though born elsewhere, I can’t help but think; better to say feel, a certain homecoming upon the trails of Wabash County.

Wabash River Trail in Wabash Indiana.
One of the many bridges on the Wabash River Trail