Hike, Brew and Celebrate the Bicentennial

Hike for three miles, then relax with a locally crafted brew, and learn more about Indiana. The activities represent two interactive ways to celebrate the state’s bicentennial celebration. Endorsed by the Indiana Bicentennial Commission, projects designed by the Hoosier Hikers Council (HHC) and the Brewers of Indiana Guild encourage Hoosiers to see the state from different perspectives.

The HHC has challenged hikers to cover 200 miles on natural surface hiking trails throughout the state by June 30, 2017. The purpose of the hiking challenge, says Mark Stuttgen, coordinator of the campaign, “is to encourage people to find out about the wonderful trails in Indiana and more about Indiana by hiking.”

Each hiker is encouraged to cover at least 10 trails on the council’s Bicentennial Trail List, which is available on HCC’s website (see below). Participants do not need to be HCC members, but they need to register on the council’s website to participate. The challenge aligns with the council’s overall mission to help build, maintain and promote hiking and running trails throughout Indiana.

One example of the trails listed by the council is found in Eagle Creek Park. The Blue Trail starts at the 71st Street parking lot and covers three miles of easy to moderate hiking. The route traverses through the woods in the upper half of the park and around the bird sanctuary.

After traveling the Blue Trail, hikers may want to cool down with a cold brew from nearby Wabash Brewing, located on the northwest side of Indianapolis. The taproom and brewery, named to reflect an historic connection to Indiana, is one of the participants in the brewer’s guild “Bicentenni-Ale” campaign. Wabash currently uses hops grown in Indiana to brew a few of its selections. “I hope to have an all-Indiana beer ready for the state fair (in August),” says Nic Stauch, head brewer and one of the owners.

Developing this type of support for locally sourced ingredients by the state’s brewers is the primary intent of the Bicentenni-Ale Legacy Project, says Jeff Mease, chairman of the brewers guild’s Bicentennial Committee and owner of the Bloomington Brewing Company. “Barley malts and other malted grains, hops, fruits and even indigenous yeasts are beginning to be available locally to the growing Indiana beer industry.”

For those needing an excuse to check out the offerings at Mease’s brewery, hiking the nearby Leonard Springs Nature Trail may provide the reason. The one-mile, rugged trail leads hikers across steep slopes and stairs to view two caves, Shirley Springs and an abundance of natural beauty. The trail is another selection on the Bicentennial Trail List.

If you choose to hike a trail outside your normal area of travel, visit the HCC website for its location. Then you may want a nearby microbrewery, which you can find by downloading the brewers official Indiana beer app called “drinkIN beer” onto your phone. Or, choose your brewery first and then find a trail. Either way, you have two fun options in how you celebrate the bicentennial.

For more information, check out the following websites:

By Terri Horvath

Freelance Writer

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