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ABOUT THE INDIANAPOLIS HIKING CLUB

A Brief History | The Club Today | Hikes | Social Events | Club Organization
Current Officers | Member Recognition

A Brief History

The Indianapolis Hiking Club was formed on January 23, 1957 by 10 Hoosiers who liked to hike and work on trail maintenance projects, like the completion of the 22 mile Yellowwood Trail in Brown County. In the first year membership grew to 82. The constitution the founders adopted stated the Club's purpose was "To encourage a love of nature through the promotion of outdoor recreation in the form of hikes and outings." The Indianapolis Hiking Club, which will be 67 years old in January 2024, has grown and evolved through the years, but has always remained faithful to the goals of the founding members. To celebrate our 65th anniversary in 2022 the Club published a full color history book that was given to all club members, which you can view here.

This past fiscal year (Oct 2022-Sep 2023) our Club scheduled 2,218 hikes (6 hikes a day), however it might come as a surprise to know for the first 20 years the Indianapolis Hiking Club scheduled only one hike a week on Sunday. During the early years, the Club also sponsored a holiday season party, summer picnic, social and business meetings and weekend overnights, often in conjunction with other hiking clubs. The first "year in review" Trail Blazer report was published in January 1969; it is still published annually. It recapped the Club's activities during 1968, which was representative of the Club's early years. Click here to view the first Trail Blazer, which will give you a nice recap of Club activities during 1968. In 1968 the membership grew to 165. Dues were $2.00 annually, plus $.10 a hike. And it cost $.04 to mail the one page schedule. Only 52 Sunday hikes were scheduled, ranging from 1 to 13 miles with an average distance of 5-6 miles. The one mile hike was to see downtown Indy Christmas displays. Hikes typically drew 20-30 members and 10 or more guests and children. About half the hikes were to out-of-town locations we often hike today, including Brown County State Park, Morgan Monroe State Forest and Jackson State Forest. Hikers usually carpooled from the Indiana statehouse and the Board suggested reimbursing the driver $0.01 per mile. Members often enjoyed a cookout after a hike.

Some notable events in the Club's history:

  • 1958 "Trail Blazer" (little man with the hiking staff) becomes the Club logo
  • 1963 Name tags were adopted
  • 1967 Started tracking member mileage. Sorry no credit for Club's first 10 years
  • 1969 First "Trail Blazer" report published recapping 1968 events and member mileage
  • 1970 Board sets a goal of at least one 10-20 mile hike a month
  • 1974 Club motto "Happiness - A step at a time" is adopted
  • 1975 Following a number of unpleasant incidents, pets were banned from hikes
  • 1976 Win Pulsifer pens lyrics for official Club song
  • 1978 Saturday hikes and multiple hikes on the same day begin to appear
  • 1979 Tom Patterson, the Club's long time mileage leader, reaches 1,000 miles
  • 1979 First men's "Beauty Pageant" at Gnaw Bone Camp
  • 1981 Weekday hikes begin appearing on the schedule
  • 1982 Club celebrates its Silver Anniversary with several major events
  • 1983 First "self guided", set-your-own-pace hikes
  • 1985 Club participates in its first German-American Volksmarch
  • 1986 Ron Craig develops a hike rating system, we still use today
  • 1987 Dues raised to $5.00 single and $8.00 for family
  • 1989 Old tradition of collecting $.10 a hike is abolished
  • 1991 Bill Murphy, first Club president, passes away
  • 1997 Club celebrates its 40th anniversary
  • 1998 First annual Club trip to Smoky Mountains National Park
  • 2000 Reba Wooden develops the Club's first website
  • 2000 Single day distance record of 43 miles set by 5 hikers
  • 2001 Halloween costumed hike, hay ride and wiener roast
  • 2002 Member Carol Barnes thru hikes the Appalachian trail for the 3rd year in a row (first women ever to do so)
  • 2003 Hikes scheduled in every Indiana State Park and State Forest and 7 states
  • 2004 13,494 hikers complete 1,114 hikes, both records
  • 2005 20 hikers complete a 10 hike series across the state of Indiana (190 miles)
  • 2006 Seven members set an incredible single day distance record of 62 miles (100 K)
  • 2006 Annual Achievement Award Program established
  • 2007 Governor and Mayor declare January 23 Indianapolis Hiking Club Day to recognize our 50th Anniversary (view proclamations)
  • 2007 All time mileage leader Tom Patterson passed away. He hiked 42,590 miles
  • 2008 Club adopts a new logo featuring both a man and a women hiker
  • 2008 Seventy-five members attend trips to the Black Hills and Grand Teton National Park
  • 2009 Glee Crowder becomes the first winner of the Bill and Nell Larrison Pinnacle Award
  • 2010 A winter hiking trip to Tucson, AZ draws 90 members and guests for desert hiking
  • 2011 Long time Club patriarch and 47 year member Bill Larrison passed away on January 23
  • 2012 Now you can like us on Facebook too
  • 2013 Seventy members and guests enjoyed a week of hiking in rugged West Virginia
  • 2014 Designated "Pet Hikes" are scheduled for the first time since 1975
  • 2015 Fifty members and guests attend a weeklong trip to Rocky Mountain National Park
  • 2016 Club celebrates Indiana's Bicentennial by hiking in all 25 Indiana State parks.
  • 2017 Club followed up last year's state park hikes, by hiking in 10 IN State Recreation Areas
  • 2018 Glee Crowder breaks Tom Patterson's all time distance record. In 2021 she became the first member to reach 50,000 miles
  • 2019 55 year member Nell Larrison, wife of long time Club patriarch Bill Larrison, passes away at 104. The end of an era
  • 2020 Covid-19 Pandemic shuts down all hiking from mid-March until June 1. Thereafter, hiking resumes with masks and social distancing, but all social gatherings are cancelled
  • 2021 A colorful 36 page 65th Anniversary history book is published and given to all members (view book)
  • 2022 Allan Roberts breaks Glee Crowder's record for the most miles hiked in a year; hiking 3,718 miles an average of 71.5 miles a week.
  • 2023 For the first time the Club participates in Indianapolis' St.Patrick's Day parade, the 500 Festival parade and Penrod art fair.
The Indianapolis Hiking Club has been serving its members and the community for over 67 years. We are more vibrant than ever, thanks, in large part, to an inspired vision, the efforts of countless volunteers and many wonderful traditions. While the main focus has always been hiking, it has been the camaraderie and long lasting friendships that have kept the Club thriving since 1957.

The Club Today

On October 1, 2023 (start of our fiscal year), the Indianapolis Hiking Club had 586 members, making us one of the largest hiking organizations in the US. Our members come from all races, creeds and national origins. We have slightly more women members than men. All age groups are represented (must be 18 to join) and the median member age is above 50. A sizable percentage of our members are empty nesters or retired. Most members live in or near Indianapolis, however it is not uncommon for people to drive from as far away as Lafayette, Brown County and nearby states to a hike. Members who have relocated to other states often maintain their membership and the close friendships developed over the years. Some physically challenged long tenured members still participate in slow and easy hikes and social events. A large percentage of our members share multiple interests related to the outdoors and keeping fit and participate in other related organizations, such as backpacking and biking clubs, the Sierra Club, photography clubs, bird watching and conservation groups and the worldwide Volksmarch organization. Guests are welcome on all hikes as are children and grandchildren. Sorry, but pets are only allowed on designated "pet" hikes. To learn more about joining us, review how to become a member.

Hikes

Webster's dictionary defines hike as "a long walk, especially for exercise or pleasure". Using that definition, the Indianapolis Hiking Club definitely hikes a lot. In 2023 the Club sponsored 2,218 hikes - 6 hikes a day and a average of 5.66 miles per hike. Collectively our members hiked almost 94,801 miles in 2023, making us one of the most active hiking clubs in the country. Although there are a number of mall hikes on our schedule, hiking is mainly an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often on hiking trails in the woods, rural roads and paved sidewalks and walkways. Hikes are scheduled every day of the year and all members are encouraged to lead. In a typical week 40+ hikes are offered, including morning, afternoon and evening choices on most weekdays and a variety of moderate and long distance options every weekend. Although spring and fall are our most popular seasons, a full schedule of hikes is offered in the dead of winter and during the warmer summer months, making hiking a year round activity. All hikes are rated as to speed, distance and terrain and a full spectrum of choices is offered each week. Moderate speed and distance hikes predominate (typically 5-7 miles at a 2.5-3.5 miles per hour pace), however Challenging hikes (12-20+ miles at a faster pace including very hilly terrain) are scheduled frequently. In recent years we have increased the number of "slow and easy" hikes (3-4 miles), which appeal to many of our older members and people recovering from medical issues. Most of the Club's weekday hikes follow roads and trails in or near Indianapolis - Eagle Creek Park is our most popular venue. Weekend hikes typically include in-town and out-of-town options.

During 2023, four extended stay trips were scheduled to Hocking Hills in Ohio in February to see frozen waterfalls, Brown County SP in March, the 26rd Annual Smoky Mountains trip in April, and an extended trip to the Upper Peninsula, Makinack Island and Petosky Bay in northern Michigan in September. Also during 2023 our club participated in the annual St. Patrick's day parade, the 500 Festival parade and the Penrod Art Festival.

In 2024 the Club anticpates scheduling more than 2,000 hikes again. Extended stay trips are planned for Gulf Shores, Alabama in January; winter weekend at McCormick's Creek SP in March; the Smoky Mountains NP in April for the 27 year in a row; and Hocking Hills and Cuyogah National Park in Ohio during October. We will also offer a number of hikes in warm weather locations for our winter snowbirds. Click here to see a list of all the future trips.

No matter where your interests lie, you will almost certainly find hikes, out of town trips and social events on our schedule that are perfect for you. Check out the current hiking schedule on this web site and see for yourself.

Social Events

Although hiking remains the primary focus, the Club sponsors a Winter Banquet during the holiday season each December, a summer picnic in July, a General Assembly in September, Oktoberfest at Gnaw Bone Camp in October and social oriented long weekend outings every winter and several other times of the year. The Club often participates in Indy parades and has sponsored booths at nature and art fairs. Many hike leaders tack on pitch-ins and visits to museums, gardens, concerts and restaurants at the conclusion of a hike. Overnight hikes and out of state trips usually include planned social activities. Following a number of recurring weekday hikes, it has become a tradition for hikers to meet for coffee, lunch or dinner. As an example, the "lunch bunch" has been meeting every Thursday after the Eagle Creek hike for more than 30 years. And the Zionsville Friday morning group always stops for a coffee break during the middle of the hike. Hiking with the Club is as much a social experience as physical exercise, or as one member put it "Hiking is better than therapy."

Club Organization

The Indianapolis Hiking Club is a completely voluntary not for profit corporation with no paid officers or staff. Although it supports a number of local and national organizations dedicated to hiking, conservation and trail maintenance, the Club expressly avoids actions or activities that might promote controversy or divisiveness, or favor any commercial, political or special interest group. The Club Constitution provides the organizational framework; you can view it by clicking Club Archives. A Board of Directors meets monthly and oversees all Club business. You may view Board Meeting minutes and financial statements by clicking here. See below for a list of the current Board members. All Club members are invited to a General Assembly each September during which new officers are elected. The Club's fiscal year starts on October 1, which is when the new Board takes office and annual dues become due. A combination hike schedule and newsletter is published every two months. Members have the option of viewing it on this website (encouraged to keep costs down) or receiving it by mail for a modest surcharge. In January a Trail Blazer report is posted on the website recapping the prior year's hiking activities and listing all members annual and lifetime mileage. Also in January, all members are mailed a current membership roster that includes addresses and phone numbers. To protect members privacy the membership roster is not available on the website. Club rules prohibit use of this information for commercial or personal solicitations or the conversion of directory information to digital media.

Current Club Officers

Following is a list of Indianapolis Hiking Club officers for the Club year beginning October 1, 2023. The President, VP, Pathfinders (schedule the hikes), Secretary, Treasurer, and Directors At Large are elected to a one-year term at the annual General Assembly in September. The incoming President appoints the other officers to a one-year term. If you would like to volunteer to be on the Board or serve on one of our committees, please contact the President.

  • President - Debbie Bucholz
  • Vice-President - Marian Fahy
  • Pathfinder (weekends) - Jean Ballinger
  • Pathfinder (weekdays) - Ed Wright
  • Secretary - Konnie Schlechte
  • Treasurer - Kathy Whalen
  • Directors at large
    • Kathy Braun
    • Pat Lawler
    • Mary Barbara Miller
    • Lori Showley
  • Conservation - Dave Drzewiecki
  • Membership - Marti Burton
  • Mileage/DB analyst - John McShea
  • Publicity - Rick Wortman
  • Publications - Kae Ramey
  • Social - Annie Falvy
  • Webmaster - Ed Wright
  • Electronic Media - Phil Coons
  • Club Historian - Mervyn Cohen

Member Recognition

INDIANAPOLIS HIKING CLUB ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
In 2006 the Club established an Achievement Awards program to recognize hiking related achievements during the Club fiscal year. Winners are announced at the Winter Banquet during the holiday season. There are eleven different awards, in categories, such as hiking more than 1,000 miles or completing the longest scheduled hike. In addition to hiking related awards we also recognize Trail Maintenance volunteers and new 25 year members. To see a description of the awards and a list of the most recent and past winners click on Achievement Awards.

ALL TIME MILEAGE LEADER
On May 9, 2018, Glee Crowder broke Tom Patterson's all time mileage record of 42,590 miles. Glee continues to add to the record. In 2021 Glee was the first member to reach 50,000 miles and as of September 30, 20232 she had amassed 55,608 miles, although Allan Roberts is closing the gap fast.

SINGLE YEAR MILEAGE LEADER
In 2022 Allan Roberts broke Glee Crowder's record of 3,368 miles hiked in one year (record set in 2012). In 2022 Allan hiked 3,718 miles an incredible average of 71.5 miles a week, to achieve this on some days Allan did as many as three hikes.

SINGLE DAY DISTANCE RECORD

The current single day distance record is 62 miles, set on April 28, 2006 by seven members. This record has been tied (same hike from Washington DC to Harpers Ferry, WV) in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Rita Bymaster has hiked this incredible distance ten times. To see a list of the other people who hiked 62 miles click on Achievement Awards.

10,000 - 50,000 MILERS
Of our 586 active members at the end of the Club year on September 30, 2023, only 46 members have hiked more than 10,000 miles on Club hikes; 13 members have passed 20,000 miles; 6 have hiked more than 30,000 miles; and 2 members - Glee Crowder and Allan Roberts - passed 40,000 miles. Here are our active lifetime mileage leaders as of September 30, 2023:

* Glee Crowder        55,608    All time mileage leader. First member to achieve 50,000 miles. 
* Allan Roberts       49,698    Top mileage leader for 2023.
* Jill McFall         37,927   
* Rick Kinnaman       37,394   
* Cherie Voege        34,015  
* David Kincaid       32,643 	
* Michele Kestle      27,055     
* Tish Brafford       26,686
* Mary Lester         26,248
* Ed Wright           25,443    Passed one time around the earth (24,901.5 miles)
* Ricki Jo Hoffmann   22,742
* Julie Litten        20,790 	
* Rick Braun          18,556 
* Marsha Hutchins     17,884
* Jim Griffin         17,525
* Kae Ramey           17,475 
* Mary Lang           17,048
* Donna Chastain      16,576   
* Martin Dadel        15,011 
* Mary Ann Layman     14,623
* Joanne Applegate    14,617    Sadly passed away on October 23, 2023; the day after her 96 birthday.
* Pat Lawler          13,921
* Janet Cohen         13,885
* Mary Williams       13,788 
* Mike Khalil         13,754
* Carol Radke         13,361
* Lucy Neal           13,054  
* Mary Bruss          12,697
* Marge Braun         12,692
* Ron Mutzl           12,603  
* Jo Anne Starzyk     12,499
* Phil Smith          12,447
* Katy Smith          12,106
* Mike Seeman         11,990
* Jean Ballinger      11,747
* Bob Layman          11,417
* Mabel Easton        11,351
* Cheryl Conwell      11,161
* Rita Bymaster       10,898	
* Daymon Evans        10,764   
* Emily Hudson-Burch  10,738
* Cheryl Conces       10,683  New to this list in 2023
* Dewey Conces        10,683  New to this list in 2023
* Ellen Mutzl         10,615
* Kathy Braun         10,300  New to this list in 2023
* Kate Curtis         10,156  New to this list in 2023
 

TWENTY-FIVE YEAR MEMBERS
Following is a list of the 81 active members who as of September 30, 2023 have been Club members for more than 25 years. The list includes 2 members who passed away during the year and 10 new new 25 year members this year. These people represent the history and backbone of our club.

                   Years a member
* Ed Lavagnino        56 years
* Phyllis Cassetty    55 years
* Jo Ann Jones        53 years
* Marsha Hutchins     49 years
* Janice James        49 years
* Pat Warner          48 years
* Steve Warner        48 years
* Rick Byers          47 years
* Jerry Green         47 years
* Christine Nitz      44 years
* Allen Pekar         44 years         
* Barbie Blocks       43 years
* Bob Corya           43 years	Sadly passed away in 2023
* Ron Craig           43 years
* Linda Elliott       43 years
* Mary Lang           42 years
* Mabel Easton        41 years
* Jill McFall         41 years
* Laurel Richardson   41 years
* Mike Khalil         40 years
* Cheryl Conwell      38 years 
* Ray Howell          38 years
* Marthene Kohlmeyer  38 years 
* Pat Lawler          38 years
* Bob Layman          38 years 
* Vija Gullett        37 years 
* Mary Lester         36 years
* Nan Tate            36 years
* Tony Abbott         35 years
* Jean Ballinger      35 years
* Larry Kahl          35 years
* Richard Kinnaman    35 years
* Michael Collins     34 years
* Rachael Joachim     34 years
* Michele Kestle      34 years
* Richard Vonnegut    34 years 
* Cheryl Abner        33 years
* Lee Kestle          33 years              
* Linda Crawford      32 years
* Reba McFarland      32 years
* Judy Kothe          31 years
* Allan Roberts       31 years
* Kaye Smith          31 years
* Brian Burke         30 years
* Donna Burke         30 years
* Kate Curtiss        30 years
* Marti Applegate     29 years
* Jim Griffin         29 years
* Mary Ann Layman     29 years 
* Anita Pearson       29 years
* Richard Sexson      29 years
* Elaine Wright       29 years 
* Mary Ann Beurke     28 years
* Kathy Braun         28 years 
* Carol Fine          28 years Sadly passed away in 2023
* Ricki Jo Hoffmann   28 years
* Judy Torrence       28 years
* Debbie Witcher      28 years	
* Betsy Frienberg     27 years
* Reba Wooden         27 years
* Tish Brafford       26 years  
* Emily Hudson-Burch  26 years
* Karen Hyland        26 years
* David Kincaid       26 years  
* Paula Moore         26 years  
* Ron Moore           26 years     
* Carol Larson        26 years						
* Susanne McNeely     26 years                      
* Susan Roberts       26 years                      
* Terry Roesch        26 years                       
* Phil Short          26 years                      
* Mary Bruss          25 years  New to the list of 25 year members
* Sue Bullock         25 years                  " 
* Dave O'Brian        25 years                  "
* Lynn O'Brian        25 years 	                "
* Kay Ramey           25 years                  "
* Tom Roesch          25 years                  "
* Diana Sullivan      25 years                  "
* Pat Theobald        25 years                  "
* Cheri Voege         25 years                  "
* Richard Voege       25 years                  "