By John L. Ross / Staff Writer
Solid, sturdy, comfortable hiking boots.
Good, thick, warm socks.
Fresh, cold water.
A working flashlight.
And a mindset ready for a day of hiking at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.
This weekend marks the 23rd year of the annual Moonbow Trail Trek at the state park.
And Park naturalist Steve Gilbert explained hikers still have time to register.
He explained there are spots still remaining, but that there are only 80 spots available for the pair of hikes.
Registration for the 23rd annual Trail Trek is $15 and includes a T-shirt and shuttle ride.
He said hikers will have a choice of trails for this weekend’s wooded walks.
“We have two hiking options,” Gilbert said. “There is a four-and-a-half-mile hike, and there’s a nine-mile hike.”
All hiking for the Trail Trek, according to Gilbert, is “self-done.”
“We will have checkpoints set up along the trails,” he explained. “And we’ll also have ‘safety sweeps’ to make sure no one falls behind.”
But there will be no guided walks.
Those wanting to take the 9-mile hike should meet before 8:30 a.m. Saturday at the Dupont Lodge — Gilbert said the shuttle leaves for that hike at 8:30.
That hike takes the well-known Bart Camp Creek toward Sheltowee Trace, according to Gilbert.
Those interested in hiking along the shorter, 4.5 mile route should meet at the lodge before 10 a.m. Saturday — the shuttle for that hike leaves the lodge at 10 a.m.
That route follows the trail toward Dog Slaughter.
Gilbert stresses arriving prior to the departure time so hikers will be able to sign in for the hikes.
And with the colder weather descending on the region, Gilbert advisers hikers to dress in layers. “Get a good, comfortable pair of hiking shoes, thick socks and a flashlight — that’s pretty important,” he said, explaining it can be necessary as the sun sets a little earlier this time of year.
A day pack is recommended, and should include extra socks, batteries (flashlight), rain gear, a first-aid kit, a warm jacket and enough food and water to last from 6 to 8 hours.
“This is not a timed event,” Gilbert said. “People will hike in groups and be spread out.”
The idea, according to Gilbert, “is to enjoy nature, to look at the scenery and to have a good time.”
He said that last year’s Trail Trek was along a different route due to problems with the trail, but this year he said the Trek reverts to the regular trails. “It’s back to the original trail,” he said.
These hikes, Gilbert said, would be considered “moderate to strenuous.”
“They’re not easy,” he said. The hike is not recommended for children under age 10 or for solo hikers.
This long-standing tradition has had some hikers participating in this event every year, Gilbert said. “There are people who have done this every year,” he said. “And they’ve got a collection of T-shirts — (which are) good for bragging rights — it’s a big thing among certain circles.”
The weather, although colder, should not be a factor. “Barring dangerous circumstances, be ready,” Gilbert said.
For more information or to register for one of the last remaining spaces, call 1(800) 325-0063.