The Hoosierist: Foraging and Beer-Drinking on Indiana Trails
Q: What’s legal to forage on a hike and what isn’t?
A: The answer is as murky as a stagnant creek. “Our property rulebook is 43 pages long,” says Dale Brier, streams and trails chief at the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. “I have an entire section dedicated to definitions of what is a fruit, what is a leaf, what is a berry, what is a nut, and a section with what you can and can’t collect. We spent a year going over the definition of a mushroom.” To avoid any misunderstandings, he advises inquiring at the gatehouse.
Q: Can my buddies and I drink beer on the trails?
A: Alcohol is perfectly legal on almost all trails, says the DNR, but not necessarily a great idea—especially if you get falling-down drunk and risk plummeting off a ravine. Still, booze-related injuries are comparatively rare. Of greater concern is the threat of dehydration, which can happen when you try to replenish your sweaty, overheated body with booze instead of H2O. But no matter the beverage, make sure you don’t ditch your empties by the trail. That’s 100 percent against the rules.
Q: What’s the dumbest thing someone has done on a state trail?
A: Indiana conservation officer Jet Quillen says you shouldn’t hike a couple of days after major surgery. Which, apparently, a few geniuses have attempted. “They get out a mile or two and realize they’ve pushed themselves past their limit,” he says. “Then conservation officers or firefighters have to hike in and pretty much carry them out.” Also, don’t trek in wingtips, flip-flops, or bare feet. “I’ve never seen high heels, but I’ve seen a lot of footwear that wasn’t meant for hiking,” Quillen says.
Illustrations by Peter Hoey