Revised September 7, 2001
Oxley Trailhead to Indiana
Route 56, doubled back, September 9, 2000
Oxley Trailhead to Spurgeon Hollow Loop junction, doubled back, October 21, 2000
trailhead on the KT is the John Stuart Oxley Memorial Trailhead,
on April 24, 1999. This cuts the 11 to 12 mile distance between
Elk Creek and Spurgeon Hollow trailheads roughly in half. It was
named as a memorial to Mr. Oxley, who was an avid hiker and outdoorsman
who frequently hiked the KT.
The easiest way to get there is from State Route 56 between Salem and Scottsburg. At the point where you would turn south to go to Elk Creek, turn north instead, then turn left almost immediately on a road which ends in a few tenths of a mile at a corner with a church. Then turn right on this road (Rutherford Hollow) and follow it about a mile until it ends at Banes Hollow Road. Turn left on Banes Hollow and follow it just over a mile and a half, the last quarter mile or so on gravel, to the parking area on the right with a large sign marking the John Stuart Oxley Memorial Trailhead.
Our original intent for the September 9, 2000 hike was to continue our progress northward from Elk Creek, as far as we'd gotten in our previous hikes. Two problems intervened -- we didn't get as restful of a night's sleep as we would have liked, and the weather turned out to be warmer and more humid than predicted. It's true that's clouds can keep the heat down, but when dew points are in the high 60s, there is little comfort in the fact that the sun is not beating down! Having (not quite as fond as we would have liked) memories of the sweltering eight-mile roundtrip in the other direction from Elk Creek the previous month under similar weather conditions, we decided to complete one of our shorter KT hikes -- the 2.4 mile segment from Oxley Memorial at mile 37.1 southward to Indiana State Route 56 at mile 34.7.
The hike began just beyond the parking area on the opposite side of the little-traveled gravel road and began ascending immediately, shortly passing the mile 37 marker. After hitting the ridgetop, we followed a barely distinguishable from level descent into a hollow just before mile 36, then climbed back up somewhat steeply as we passed mile marker 36. There was a partially downed tree, hanging over the trail in that vicinity, that made it nearly impossible for Mike to pass underneath with Maria in the backpack carrier. Somewhere in this area, we saw a lone female hiker who was the only other person we encountered this day.
The trail descended somewhat again in the vicinity of mile 35, and eventually dropped to road level to intersect SR 56 at mile 34.7. Mike insisted on crossing the road -- any time we used a road or stream as a turnaround point, Mike crossed it on one of our two visits to keep the continuity of the trail intact; Aimee found this compulsion idiotic, for some reason -- then we turned around and recrossed the road and found a lunch stop shortly thereafter on the other side.
Mike hoped that Maria would finish the remainder of the hike after lunch, but the weather evidently affected her as well. She walked one mile then asked to be carried. Especially irksome was the fact that she climbed back into the backpack just BEFORE the offending downed tree so Mike had to do the limbo a second time! Fortunately this was a short hike, but we were still soaked with sweat by the time we descended back to Banes Hollow Road and the parking area. Once again, we vowed not to fooled again by optimistically cool weather predictions in the early fall!
About a month and a half later, with one KT hike and a hiking trip in north central Pennsylvania intervening, we returned to hike northward from the Oxley Trailhead. Weather conditions were nearly perfect -- shirt sleeves while hiking, light windbreakers while sitting in the shady woods for lunch.
Less than a year later, Dad is already romanticizing this as one of his favorite KT segments. Maybe it was just the weather! The hike began with a gradual, very moderate climb up from Banes Hollow to a ridge, then shortly after mile 38, a drop into Herron Hollow (thanks to Phil Bloom's 'Hiking Indiana' for the ID on this stream) followed by an ascent to gravel Pull Tight Road about mile 38.9. (The road is unmarked at the trail crossing, but we got to know this area well in March, 2001 -- see our Spurgeon Hollow page ... ) Should you wish to begin or end hiking at this point, incidentally, there is a gravel state forest parking area on the north side of the road about 1/10 mile west of the KT crossing.
The trail continues ascending about 1/10 mile after the road, then levels near the mile 39 marker. The segment to mile 40 is relatively flat with a small amount of drop before rising to cross a gravel road at mile 40.3. I have seen several names attributed to this road in various sources; however, the actual road is unmarked at the point where it spurs off Pull Tight Road (which has changed its name to West Point Road by that time, I believe). There is a parking area on the road about 2/10 mile north of the trail crossing; we used this access point for one of our Spurgeon Hollow loop hikes for which it is quite convenient. After crossing the road, the trail makes a final moderate descent, merges with an old woods road, and intersects the Spurgeon Hollow loop at mile 40.7. When you see the blue/white double blazes denoting the loop segment, you'll know you're there!
After stopping for lunch at the loop junction, we returned by the same route. Maria hiked most of the way back on her own feet. We encountered some horseback riders as we crossed the unmarked road, and after passing ahead and back of a group of three hikers, we ended up talking to them for about ten minutes.
MARIA'S HIKING ON HER OWN TWO FEET:
September 9: 1.0 mile
on the KT. After lunch, she went from mile 35 to mile 36. I
guess it was a hot day for her too.
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