New faces coming to Kickapoo trail

New faces coming to Kickapoo trail

OAKWOOD — There will be some new faces along Clear Lake Trail in Kickapoo State Park this year, but hikers may have to search to spot them.

More than 20 hand-carved, wooden "spirit faces" will be nestled among the trees along a section of the trail called "Spooky Hollow."

As a winter project, members of the Danville-area Kickapoo Karvers wood-carving club created the faces that will be hung this spring in the trees. You'll soon be able to find them in the center of the park, along a narrow, 400-yard portion of the trail that cuts through a section of pine trees.

"It's one of the most-used trails," said Charlie Montgomery, a member of Kickapoo's site crew.

The entire Clear Lake trail is three miles, and the Spooky Hollow section is in the second mile, Montgomery said. Several years ago, the Karvers made faces that were placed along that section of trail, he said, but some deteriorated while others disappeared. (They were likely stolen — they were low enough for people to reach).

With only of the originals two remaining, Karver Steve Smith got the idea for the club to whip up a new batch. He asked park superintendent John Hott, who liked the idea.

In fact, Hott says, the new pieces "are almost too good for what we are doing," good enough to be displayed on a fireplace mantel in people's homes.

Some club members carved spirit faces while others chose to whittle tikis and, in one case, a witch.

Most of the faces were carved into chunks of old white cedar that park workers cut up from power poles that had been removed from Kickapoo.

"I don't think it will ever rot," Hott said.

The tradeoff was that the cedar proved more difficult to carve, Smith said, so some club members chose other wood, like sassafras. Montgomery said the carvings will be soaked in diesel fuel, which will help preserve them.

And this time, Hott said, they'll be hung a little higher in the trees — to discourage people from waking off with them.

"It's going to be fun," he said.

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