- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 8, 2015

EVANSVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Ten years after a deadly Nov. 6, 2005, tornado turned Angel Mounds‘ woods into a tangle of broken trees and debris volunteers have turned its trails into a popular site for local runners, hikers, bikers and dog walkers.

Angel Mounds State Historic Site is located on Pollack Avenue in southeastern Vanderburgh County between Evansville and Newburgh. The site is mostly known for the large Native American community that left behind numerous mounds and archaeological finds preserved there.

However, undeveloped woodlands cover about 400 of the site’s 600 acres, said Mike Linderman, Angel Mounds site manager. Inside the woods are more than two miles of trails.

The tornado “destroyed about 110 acres, all the trails,” Linderman said.

But the state auctioned off logging rights to remove the damaged trees and local bicyclists who had used the trails for mountain biking helped restore them, he said.

However, Angel Mounds‘ budget doesn’t allow much in the way of resources to maintain the trails. So volunteers such as Chris Hubbard and runner Jeff Williams have stepped up to keep the trails open.

“People who like to use the woods do maintenance on the trails,” Williams said. “When the trails are taken care of they get used heavily.”

Williams said he runs the trails several times a week after work as part of his triathlon training. He said its location and proximity to the levee - another draw for hikers and dog walkers - make it a natural destination.

“It’s close, convenient. The location is really good. It’s close to town and you can run and bike on the trails, unlike Wesselman Woods Nature Preserve,” Williams said. “It’s pretty nice.”

That also makes it a natural site for organized runs and bike events.

Hubbard and his company 40LB Sledgehammer Productions organize sporting events such as mountain bike races and runs, including a monthly nighttime trail run at Angel Mounds. It will also be the site, on July 11, of one of the races in the annual Southern Five mountain bike series his company organizes.

“I think it’s a hidden gem in Evansville. When the trails are in good shape they are crowded,” Hubbard said.

He recalled working with other volunteers to clear one overgrown trail several years ago.

“Just minutes after we finished it some mountain bikers came out right behind us. We laughed because we had just cleared it. It had been impassable,” he said.

Hubbard said Angel Mounds fits with his company’s philosophy of using their events to highlight little known natural areas.

Jim Bush and his Rise Up And Run race timing/production company organize a night run event there every summer and a 5K-10K-15K trail run there in fall.

Angel Mounds is accessible. They are flat trails. The levee is the biggest hill out there, so it’s a good introduction to trail running and mountain biking,” Bush said.

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Source: Evansville Courier & Press, https://bit.ly/1ep4tHP

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Information from: Evansville Courier & Press, https://www.courierpress.com


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