Guided hike series being offered

The Healthy Jackson County physical activity workgroup is collaborating with Jackson-Washington State Forest to offer a guided hike series.

The first of three guided hikes will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the forestry, 1278 E. State Road 250, Brownstown.

Bethany Daugherty, health and wellness education specialist at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour and coordinator of the Healthy Jackson County All-Coalition, said the event is free to the public and a great way to get some exercise while enjoying the fall leaves.

According to americanhiking.org, hiking is not only enjoyable but has many health benefits.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of death from coronary heart disease and decreases the risk for colon cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Walking is one of the lowest impact sports around. The activity helps control weight and contributes to healthy bones, muscles and joints. Walking also is beneficial in relieving arthritis and symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The hike this weekend will be led by Edward Oehlman, property manager at Jackson-Washington State Forest.

“We’re just two and a half miles south of Brownstown,” Oehlman said. “On Sunday, people can drive right past the office and down to the back of the property and we’re meeting there at the Knob Lake dam.”

Tyler Henkle with the HJC physical activity workgroup helped organize the hiking series.

“He contacted me about the event, and I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Oehlman said. “Being a public entity and a public land, we’re always happy to offer any support we can to our community.”

Sunday’s hike will go according to who shows up for the outing.

“If children are there, we might cut the hike a little bit short, but we’re planning on two and a half miles with some light hills,” he said. “Anyone who has been here before knows the topography is significant here, but I plan to navigate routes that are less strenuous on the climb, so you can see the views from higher elevations but don’t have to climb the side of a mountain to do it.”

Oehlman said about a half-mile of the hike will be on pavement, walking back to the parking area.

“As for what people need to wear and what items they should bring that day, it’s just what would make them feel the most comfortable out on a hike,” he said. “Bug spray might be beneficial, and I always encourage that. Also a good supporting shoe, like tennis shoes or hiking boots, but obviously, no flip-flops or sandals.”

Long pants also are suggested for the hike, but if participants would rather wear shorts and use insect repellent, that’s OK. Bringing along something to drink, such as a water bottle, could come in handy, too.

The plan is to keep people in a group and allow time to stop and talk about some things or see if anyone has questions while they’re out in the woods, Oehlman said.

“The forest is run by the Division of Forestry, and there is no admission to get in or to join the hike,” he said. “So the only thing it costs is a good attitude.”

For information about the guided hike series, email Oehlman at eoehlman@dnr.in.gov or call 812-358-2160.