The trail is one of the most heavily used in Indiana State Parks. It serves as a gateway to the Rocky Hollow-Falls Canyon Nature Preserve, which contains relict populations of rare native species. The trail’s conditions are ideal for lichens, mosses, and liverworts, as well as ferns and native hemlocks.
This fragile canyon ecosystem had been threatened by lack of a clear trail tread and social trails up to the canyon walls.
The new route through Rocky Hollow provides a clear path built with native creek gravel and established stone stream crossings. Rock cribbing and trail armoring with large native sandstone rocks have been added to control erosion.
Rogue social trails to the bases of the canyon walls have been blocked and replanted with native species. Signs have been installed reminding hikers to stay on the trail and protect the integrity of the canyon’s beauty. A new boardwalk has been constructed at the entrance to the canyon.
The work, completed by Spectrum Trail Design in partnership with staff from the DNR divisions of State Parks and Nature Preserves, required months of planning and the tricky lowering of several pieces of trail building equipment into the canyon with a crane.
As much as possible, stone and other trail-building materials used were from the canyon itself or of the same geological structure.
“This project is a perfect example of finding ways to balance access to Indiana’s most beautiful and unique places while conserving the resources that draw Hoosiers to them,” said Ginger Murphy, deputy director for stewardship for Indiana State Parks. “We are excited that these improvements have been completed, and look forward to seeing our guests experience Rocky Hollow again.”
Park staff expect hikers to use the new trail route through Rocky Hollow and to avoid the temptation to create new rogue trails. Staff will be in the canyon on busy hiking days to talk with guests about the trail and the uniqueness of the site.
“This work, in combination with appropriate trail use, will allow those relict and rare species to grow again and will keep Rocky Hollow healthy for future generations to experience,” said Turkey Run interpretive naturalist Aaron Douglass.
Funding for the project was provided by DNR’s divisions of State Parks and Nature Preserves with the support of a generous grant from REI through the Indiana Natural Resources Foundation.
Additional information about Rocky Hollow-Falls Canyon, which is a state-dedicated nature preserve, is at www.dnr.IN.gov/naturepreserve/files/np-Rocky_Hollow-color.pdf.