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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 a group of 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 62 years old in January 2019, has grown and evolved through the years, but has always remained faithful to the goals of the founding members.

In 2018 the Indianapolis Hiking Club scheduled 1,996 hikes, an average of 5.5 hikes a day. However for the first 20 years, the Club scheduled only one hike a week on Sunday. 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 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 Bill Larrison coins Club motto "Happiness - A step at a time"
  • 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 all 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, still used 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 (the only 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
  • 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" were 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 We 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. She's still going strong.
  • 2019 55 year member Nell Larrison, wife of long time Club patriarch Bill Larrison, passes away at 104. The end of an era.
The Indianapolis Hiking Club has been serving its members and the community for over 60 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 that's kept the Club thriving since 1957.

The Club Today

On October 1, 2018 (start of our fiscal year), the Indianapolis Hiking Club had 575 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 retired. Most members live 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 the 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.


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 2018 the Club sponsored 1,996 hikes - 5.5 hikes a day. Collectively 14,275 members hiked 79,530 miles, making us one of the most active hiking clubs in the country. Although there are a few mall hikes on our schedule (especially during the winter), hiking is mainly an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often on hiking trails, 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 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 2018, we offered hikes in many Indiana State Parks and state forests, the Hoosier National Forest, the Knobstone Trail, nature conservancies, wildlife refuges and numerous rural communities in Indiana and nearby states. Many themed hikes were also offered, including wildflowers, museums, monuments, concerts, restaurants, flower gardens and opportunities to learn more about the geography, geology and history of our great city and state. Five extended stay trips were also sponsored, including Philadelphia, winter weekend at Spring Mill SP, Smoky Mountains NP for the 21nd time, Yorkshire Dales National Park in northern England, and Las Vegas, Nevada. Many of our members also hiked on their own or with other groups to exciting destinations including the Appalachian Trail, US National Parks and various international destinations including the Alps.

In 2019 the Club expects to offer around 2,000 hikes for the ninth year in a row. Extended stay trips are planned a winter weekend at McCormick's Creek SP, Smoky Mountains NP, Hocking Hills SP in Ohio and Michigan's Upper Peninsula. We will also offer a number of Florida hikes for our winter snowbirds. Of course there will also be our Annual Winter Banquet during the holiday season, summer picnic and Oktoberfest at Gnaw Bone Camp. Click here to see a list of all the future trips.

No matter where your interests lie, you will almost certainly find hikes 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, over Memorial Day and after Labor Day. 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. 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 review 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. In January a Trail Blazer report is sent to all members 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 which includes addresses and phone numbers. Use of this information for commercial or personal solicitations and the conversion of directory information to digital media is strictly prohibited. To protect members privacy, the membership roster is is not available on the website.

Current Club Officers

Following is a list of Indianapolis Hiking Club officers for the Club year beginning October 1, 2018. The President, VP, Pathfinders (schedule the hikes), Secretary, Treasurer, and Directors At Large are elected to a one-year term at 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 - Phil Smith
  • Vice-President - Marti Burton
  • Pathfinder (weekends) - Jean Ballinger
  • Pathfinder (weekdays) - Ed Wright
  • Secretary - Mervyn Cohen
  • Treasurer - Kathy Whalen
  • Directors at large
    • Harold Crooks
    • Bob Hackenberg
    • Mike Khalil
    • Kae Ramey
  • Conservation - John Bacone
  • Membership - Barbara Strite
  • Mileage - Karen Zimmerman
  • Publicity - Mary Ladd
  • Publications - Sally Sandman
  • Social - Pat Lawler
  • Webmaster - Ed Wright
  • Electronic Media - Phil Coons

Member Recognition

In 2006 the Club established an Achievement Awards program to recognize hiking related achievements during the Club year, which runs from October 1 through September 30. Winners are announced at the Achievement Awards Banquet during the holiday season. There are eleven different awards, in categories such as hiking more than 1,000 miles and completing the longest scheduled hike. To see a description of the awards and a list of the most recent and past winners click on Achievement Awards.

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 and as of September 30 she was up to 43,763.

In 2012 Glee Crowder hiked a record 3,368 miles with the Club, an average of 64 miles a week. Glee has hiked more than 3,000 miles in a year four times.


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

10,000 - 40,000 MILERS
Over 41% (238 of 575) of our members have hiked more than 1,000 miles with the Club. However, only 41 active members have hiked more than 10,000 miles; 11 members have passed 20,000 miles; 4 have hiked more than 30,000 miles; and one member - Glee Crowder - passed 40,000 miles and this past year set a new all time distance record. Here are our lifetime mileage leaders as of September 30, 2018:

* Glee Crowder        43,763    Broke the Club's all time distance record of 42,950 miles in May. 
* Allan Roberts       38,832 
* Jill McFall         34,475   
* Rick Kinnaman       30,765   
* Cherie Voege        26,678  
* David Kincaid       25,731 	Passed one time around the earth (24,901.5 miles)
* Mary Lester         25,438	  
* Michele Kestle      23,038   
* Ricki Jo Hoffmann   22,053   
* Ed Wright           21,826 
* Tish Brafford       20,390
* Tom Hollett         18,049
* Marsha Hutchins     16,965    
* Jim Griffin         16,116  
* Mary Lang           15,593
* Julie Litten        15,421 
* Donna Chastain      14,630   
* Joanne Applegate    13,996
* Mary Ann Layman     13,478
* Lucy Neal           13,054  
* Rick Braun          13,000
* Anna Gehring        12,883  
* Martin Dadel        12,568 
* Ron Mutzl           12,496  
* Pat Lawler          11,843
* Mary Williams       11,841
* Avis Shipman        11,580       
* Jean Ballinger      11,474 
* Jeff Edmondson      11,397
* Mabel Easton        11,351
* Cheryl Conwell      11,095
* Kae Ramey           10,881	Passed 10,000 miles in 2018 	 
* Cindy West          10,868  
* Bob Layman          10,573
* Jim Shoufler        10,466
* Rita Bymaster       10,447    
* June Pogue          10,420      
* Bob Corya           10,321
* Curtis Hinds        10,294	Passed 10,000 miles in 2018	
* Ellen Mutzl         10,287
* Carol Radke         10,167	Passed 10,000 miles in 2018

Following is a list of the 68 people who as of September 30, 2018 have been Club members for more than 25 years. This year we have three new 25 year members. These people represent the history and backbone of our club.

                   Years a member
* Nell Larrison       55 years
* Susan Huizinga      53 years
* Ed Lavagnino        51 years
* Odie Cassetty       50 years
* Phyllis Cassetty    50 years
* Jo Ann Jones        48 years
* John Jones          48 years
* Pat Eckstein        44 years
* Marsha Hutchins     44 years
* Janice James        44 years
* Tom Jordan          44 years
* Pat Warner          43 years
* Steve Warner        43 years
* Rick Byers          42 years
* Jerry Green         42 years
* George Lindley      41 years
* June Pogue          41 years
* Russ Pogue          41 years
* Dolores Koziol      39 years
* Christine Nitz      39 years
* Allen Pekar         39 years          
* Bob Corya           38 years
* Ron Craig           38 years
* Linda Elliott       38 years
* Jim Jones           38 years
* Barbie McNeely      38 years
* Mary Lang           37 years
* Mabel Easton        36 years
* Jill McFall         36 years
* Laurel Richardson   36 years
* Mike Khalil         35 years
* Linda Crawford      34 years
* Cheryl Conwell      33 years
* Ron Green           33 years
* Ray Howell          33 years
* Pat Lawler          33 years
* Susan Niedenthal    33 years
* Bill Boyd           32 years
* Donna Ozbun         32 years
* Mary Lester         31 years
* Shameron Mueller    31 years
* Betty Shookman      31 years
* Avis Shipman        31 years
* Nan Tate            31 years
* Tony Abbott         30 years
* Jean Ballinger      30 years
* Richard Glidewell   30 years
* Larry Kahl          30 years
* Richard Kinnaman    30 years
* Michael Collins     29 years
* Carol Derbin        29 years
* Rachael Joachim     29 years
* Michele Kestle      29 years
* Cheryl Abner        29 years
* Maureen Haney       28 years
* Lee Kestle          28 years                   
* Virlee Schneider    28 years                                         
* Richard Vonnegut    28 years                   
* Penny Eisenhut      27 years 
* Reba McFarland      27 years                   
* Judy Kothe          26 years
* Allan Roberts       26 years
* Kaye Smith          26 years
* Pat Starzynski      26 years
* Brian Burke         25 years
* Donna Burke         25 years
* Catherine Curtiss   25 years
* Marthene Kohlmeyer  25 years
* Bob Layman          25 years