It may be only 3 miles long, but the Sweetser Switch Trail is nearly bursting with unique features and small-town charm. Like many things in Sweetser, the main trailhead is located right in the middle of downtown, and the route is often packed with users beyond what you would expect from a local population over just 900 people. Perhaps one of the draws it the larger-than-life statue of Garfield, the comic strip cat—a nod to Garfield creator and area native Jim Davis.
The trailhead also has two restored railcars that provide a wonderful backdrop for pre-trip pictures. There are restrooms, water and parking available at the trailhead. The trail's midpoint is the town of Sweetser itself, and because of its parking and amenities, it also serves as the best starting point for your trip.
As you head west out of town, wildflowers and evenly distributed solar lights line the trail. And pull that camera back out because at the trail's western and remote endpoint, you'll find a covered bridge. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the tables provided here for just such an outing.
The eastward journey from the trail's midpoint toward the town of Marion follows a similar pattern—wildflowers and solar lights, but also bird boxes so ornithologists may enjoy a sighting or two.
The trail ends between Sweetser and Marion, where it meets the northern portion of the 62-mile Cardinal Greenway. An extension currently scheduled to be completed in late 2016 will connect the trail to the nearby Converse Junction Trail, and may eventually connect all the way to the Nickel Plate Trail in Bunker Hill. For now, though, this robust 3-mile stretch of the Sweetser Switch is just plenty. And while the trail is popular nearly all year long, consider visiting around Halloween. The annual pumpkin walk, with a parade of jack o'lanterns lighting the rail-trail, is a popular event for all ages.
To access the starting point at the Garfield statue in Sweetser, follow Interstate 69 to County Route 18 and travel west for 12 miles through the town of Marion to Sweetser. Turn left (south) on N. Main Street and drive 0.25 mile. The trailhead is before the railroad tracks. Look for the Garfield statue on the left by the retired rail cars.
To access the County Road N 700 West from downtown Sweetser, take Main Street north to State Road 18. Turn left and follow SR 18 west for 2 miles. Turn left onto County Road 700. The trailhead is on the left just before the railroad tracks.
To access the County Road N 400 West from downtown Sweetser, take Main Street north to SR 18. Turn right and follow SR 18 east for 1 mile. Turn right onto County Road 400. The trailhead is on the right just before the railroad tracks.