Hiking in the dark is a trippy experience. You’re walking along a sometimes-treacherous trail using only a small headlamp for light. Senses are heightened, so the sound of chirping insects is loud, the rushing river water seems booming and every rustle in the woods around you causes your heart to race. But it’s OK because you’re just out for a walk!
Spring is the perfect time to try night hiking — if you pick a warm evening, there’s no humidity, no mosquitoes and not many leaves to block light from the moon and stars. All you need for an adventure are some good walking or hiking shoes and a headlamp.
Whitewater State Park has some really great trails. Two friends joined me one April evening, because I don’t usually mind hiking alone in the daylight, but with my overactive imagination, it seemed better to go with friends at night.
We went around 8 p.m., when there was still a little bit of residual light. We parked at the north picnic area and began on the Trout Run Creek Trail. This was a great way to ease into the evening, as the trail is quite flat. We quickly turned on our headlamps as we walked along the bubbling river. The rushing water looked dark and mysterious when lit by my headlamp.
We challenged ourselves and hiked from the flat river trail up to Inspiration Point. I’m not one for heights, so I hung back while my two friends ventured onto a rocky overhang. We all turned off our headlamps to admire the moon peeking through the clouds, creating silhouettes of the bluffs in the distance.
After a minute of rest, we turned on our lights and continued our hike. We were now walking through the bluffs, which are beautiful during the day and very interesting at night. It’s disconcerting to hear cows mooing just off the trail, but it was comforting to see the lights from the farmhouse.
It was nice having been on the trail before in the daylight, though I wouldn’t say it’s necessary to scout ahead —unless you’re like me and your imagination runs wild. Then maybe check it out once before wandering through the forest with just your boots and your headlamp.