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Camping, hiking trails allows individuals to retreat from digital world

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By ANDREW CRITCHELOW

With the rise of social media and the advancement of interconnectivity in technology in recent years, many have retreated to nature as a way to temporarily unwind from the digital world.

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According to figures by database company Statista, the number of hikers in the U.S. has increased by more than 10 million within the last 10 years. To that end, there are currently 75 million active camper households in the U.S., according to a 2017 report by Kampgrounds of America Inc.

According to a report by the American Hiking Society, hiking can lower an individuals chances of heart disease, obesity, hypertension, anxiety and osteoporosis.

Rhett Mendoza, Fort Knox Adventure Program coordinator, said outdoors activities can have mental health benefits as well.

“The mental benefits of hiking are it slows you down, meaning you are not thinking a million things at once and trying to accomplish a million more,” Mendoza said. “You take a mental breather, you let the stress and other negative emotions fade so that you are at peace.”

The Fort Knox Adventure Program, a section of the Army’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation network of services, encourages the pursuit of outdoors activities by taking part in various trips and seminars. Mendoza said he recommends the program for anyone in the Fort Knox area who wants to pursue outdoor activities.

“The idea if you build it they will come does apply to an extent,” Mendoza said. “If you give someone the opportunity to go through a class, clinic or seminar that shows them how to camp, hike or any other outdoor activity, the interest a person had in the idea of it comes out and they participate.”

On the state level, hiking and camping areas often associated with Kentucky include Natural Bridge State Resort Park in Slade, Land between the Lakes in Golden Pond and Mammoth Cave National Park in Cave City. However, taking the trip to one of these locations isn’t necessary if an individual lives near Fort Knox and wants an outdoors experience.

There are many locations that will satisfy those looking to hike in the area, including Saunders Spring Nature Preserve in Radcliff, Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area in Brandenburg and Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest in Clermont.

Whether an individual seeks to take a quick stroll or they want an all day adventure, Bernheim has a variety of trails to pursue.

According to its website, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has trails such as the Overalls Loop that take less than 15 minutes to walk, and some such as the Millennium Trail that can take up to seven hours.

Bernheim is also a venue for various events throughout the summer, including educational wildlife tours for children and special night time hikes.

For a hiking experience even closer to the Fort Knox area, the 26-acre Saunders Spring Nature Preserve in Radcliff includes 11 named hiking trails, many of which feature steep hills for those looking to get exercise while experiencing nature.

For those interested in camping, Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area provides a camping area for primitive, RV and cabin camping. Otter Creek also includes 5 miles of fishing along the Ohio River, hunting, archery and disk golf.

Mendoza said Otter Creek has a distinctive terrain for hikers.

“Otter creek is unique because every trail is connected in one way or another,” Mendoza said. “Red Cider trail follows a portion of the actual creek to the Ohio River. With everything being connected, you can go to Otter Creek and in a sense blaze your own trail by splitting off and on to different trails to get the mileage you want or the terrain you want.”

For a camping experience that doesn’t require an individual to leave post, Carlson Campgrounds on Fort Knox features 65 acres of land for camping and walking, along with a 25-acre lake. Fort Knox is also home to Tioga Falls, which includes a very steep 2-mile trail.

Mendoza said regardless of where an individual camps or hikes, safety is always the most important factor.

“Always hike or camp with a buddy, try not to go alone,” Mendoza said. “When hiking or camping, always let someone know when and where you are going and when you will be back.” n