West and Wilderness Sycamore Trails
(just south of Lake Monroe in Charles C. Deam Wilderness
in the northern section of Hoosier National Forest in Indiana)
Nice Trip Reports Available!
The Charles C. Deam Wilderness area was designated a wilderness in 1982 and encompasses nearly 13,000 acres of the Hoosier National Forest. Wilderness designation places this area in a special legal status (subject to the 1964 Wilderness Act). It is managed to preserve a natural condition and provide opportunities for solitude.
Since its designation as a wilderness, visitor use in the area increased to a point that significant damage was occurring. In order to protect the wilderness character, regulations are enforced to control the impact of people. Visitors to this special place are asked to share responsibility in preserving this unique natural resource.
Please do your part to enhance Indiana's only wilderness, and be a good steward of your public land. Help preserve the values you come here to enjoy. Ensure that you leave no trace of your visit, and take with you only photographs and memories.
This trail is operated by:
WILDERNESS ETIQUETTE AND REGULATIONS
|All saddle, pack, or draft animals must be kept on trails posted or otherwise designated for horse use. Trails authorized for horse use are marked by brown plastic posts with a decal depicting a horseback rider. Other areas are closed to horse use, but hiking is allowed anywhere within the area. (See map on reverse for trail system).|
|Trail Use Permits are required for riding a horse on the Hoosier N. F. Permits may be purchased as annual permits ($35/year) or day-use tags ($5/day) from Hoosier N.F. offices and some local stores. A tag is required for each adult rider. Horseback riders 16 years of age and younger are exempt from the permit requirement. A permit tag is not required for foals without a rider or pack stock. Annual permits must be signed.|
|Camping is prohibited within 100 yards of Tower Ridge Road between Highway 446 and the junction of Hickory Ridge Road (1500 W) and Maumee Road (1150 N). Note: Camping is still permitted within Blackwell Horse Camp.|
|Camping within 100 feet of ponds, lakes, trails, or streams is allowed only on designated sites. Walk-in camping throughout the rest of the wilderness area is not restricted.|
|Parking is allowed along Tower Ridge Road in only three locations: Blackwell Horse Camp, Grubb Ridge Trailhead, and the Hickory Ridge Fire Tower.|
|Use of wheeled vehicles, including carts, wagons, or bicycles, is prohibited within the wilderness area.|
|Campsites must be occupied the first night, and may not be left unattended for more than 24 hours without permission. Camping is limited to 14 days.|
|The only food or beverage containers permitted within the Wilderness are those intended for reuse or burnable packaging. Spray paint is not allowed in the Wilderness. Cans and glass bottles are not allowed. If you packed it in, pack it back out. Never bury garbage.|
|Hunting is permitted in the Wilderness. Target shooting or practicing is not allowed.|
|Stock may not be tied within reach of any living tree.|
|Group size is limited to 10 persons or less.|
HISTORY OF CHARLES C. DEAM WILDERNESS
|IN THE BEGINNING|
|In the beginning was the forest. It seemed to extend forever. No one knew the end of it. It was old; ancient as the hills it covered. Those who first entered it saw rivers and mountains, birds and beasts. The trees were vast and countless, columns of the roof of heaven. In autumn the leaves fell and the stars looked down through a roof of sticks. The snow sifted down through the gray shadows.|
|Native Americans used this area as early as 11,000 years ago. They traveled through the area as bands of hunters, in a time when mastodons, musk oxen, and giant bison roamed the land. The first impact of people on the land may have been setting wildfires to drive the game from the forest. Though these people later settled in the area with seasonal villages and grew crops on small plots, they had little effect on the land.|
|For a long time, the forest was undisturbed. It stemmed the onrush of the colonists from Europe. It was a barrier of trees, mountains, and mysterious red men. Eventually, though, the traders and adventurers came, and by 1809 the last of the Native Americans had been forced to moved further west.|
|The area which is now the Charles C. Deam Wilderness was first settled in 1826 by the Todd family. It was one of the last areas in Indiana to be settled because the steep hills and narrow ridgetops were hard to clear and the poorer soil made farming a marginal proposition.|
|Though these were some of the finest hardwoods in the world, the government generally sold the land for only one dollar per acre. Those who settled were usually young couples, just starting out, and the cemeteries are filled with their children who failed to survive the difficult life of those early pioneers.|
|The settlers cleared the land, built fences, and piled up long rows of rocks from their fields. Today you can see the remnants of their work. Though now closed, most of the 57 miles of roads mapped at the turn of the century in the Wilderness area are still visible on ridgetops. The ability of the land to heal is brought home when you realize less then 50 years ago this same area had 81 small farms and every ridgetop was planted in corn or hayfields|
|Unlike western wilderness, the Charles C. Deam Wilderness is one that is being returned to nature. It's a testimony to our foresight as a nation that we saw the importance of setting aside such areas to evolve naturally. Within the area are six cemeteries. Some day, as the scars left on the land are healed, the gravestones of the pioneers will be the only evidence of their lives here. It's a stark reminder of how tenuous our place on the land can be. But for now, the scars add a certain novelty to the area. Old roadbeds wind down ridges to homesites visible only by the crocuses that bloom around nonexistent cabins and in rows to gates that have been gone 20 years.|
|FOREST SERVICE INTERVENES|
|The Forest Service acquired the first land now within the wilderness boundary in 1935 as abandoned, tax-delinquent farmland. The first priorities were to stabilize erosion, rehabilitate the damaged land, and control wildfires. With the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) program of the 1930's the Forest Service began reforesting the hillsides. The Hickory Ridge FireTower, a lone sentinel on the edge of the Wilderness, was constructed by the CCC and used until recently in times of high fire danger.|
|The Charles C. Deam Wilderness was designated by Congress in December 1982. It was named for the first State Forester in Indiana, who was a pioneer in the forest conservation and an author of books on the trees and flora of Indiana.|
|Wilderness areas such as this one have changed the definition of progress. What was considered progress at the turn of the century, when the land was cleared and plowed, is very different from today, when progress is seen as natural forest reclaiming the land and a wilderness becoming a reality.|