Hiking Indiana - Pinnacle Peak Trail At Jackson State Forest - Indiana
By Paul Wonning
The most popular destination hike at Jackson State Forest is the one mile hike up to Pinnacle Peak. At 966 feet above sea level, this is the second highest spot in the park. For this trail you will want some good hiking shoes. Sandals, flip flops and dress shoes are not at all suitable as this trail is pretty rugged. It is wide, well marked, and has a good surface most of the way, but there is a lot of climbing and descending. It is a challenging trail.
Trail One is the trail which leads up to this spot, the trailhead is from the Pinnacle Peak parking area, at the northeast end of the park. Just follow the Main Forest Road all the way back, park on the left. The Pinnacle Peak Shelter House is located just a little further on, a great place for a family reunion or gathering. There is a playground, primitive campground, fishing in Knob Lake, and lots of other trails here, too, so it is a good place to spend the day.
The trail begins by climbing rather steeply to the Old Tower Site, the first landmark along the trail. An old fire tower was here at one time, some of the old concrete supports still protruding from the ground. At this point, you will want to take the left fork, the right travels over to High Point, about one quarter mile distant.
The left fork descends rather sharply, be careful as this section is somewhat gravelly and slippery even when the ground is dry. The trail climbs again, drops and then climbs. You will then meet Trail 10 coming in from the left. A short distance later Trail 10 departs to the east, Trail One continues on up a grade and around the hill.
You will finally reach a point where you will see two posts with what looks like the trail going between them. You can get up to Pinnacle Peak this way, but the trail actually goes left. If you go straight here, you will be climbing up a fairly vertical, gravelly cliff. The left fork is longer, but much easier.
The trail from this point climbs fairly steadily, curves around behind the Peak, finally emerges for one last scramble up a gravelly path to the top. Once up there, there are two main vistas. The main vista overlooks the trail you just came up. To the right an awesome view of the surrounding countryside, to the left more hills of the park. Straight ahead is High Point. The other vista is smaller, but impressive views of the neighboring hills. An interesting Chestnut Oak provides a low limb to sit and look. There are some nice flat rocks to lie on, and there is a bench to sit on also. It is a good place to bring a picnic lunch along to munch as you contemplate the view.
Pinnacle Peak Trail basically passes through a forest mostly composed of Chestnut Oak, Sugar Maple and other high country hardwoods. Wildflowers abound in the spring. The 300 odd foot climb passes through some very pretty forest, along ridges and divides as it ascends to its destination, Pinnacle Peak. This is one of Jackson State Forests best hikes.
Paul Wonning is the owner of Gardens and Nature.com a web site about gardening, hiking and other nature related topics.