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Visitors to the Delphi Historic Trails network can tour the historical town of Delphi in north-central Indiana by foot or bicycle—or skis in the winter—on old canal towpaths and former railroad corridors. Nearly 10 miles of trail follow the routes of the Monon Railroad and the Wabash and Erie Canal, as well as city streets that pass houses and public buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
Laid out in 1828, Delphi became a canal boomtown when the 468-mile cross-state Wabash and Erie Canal arrived in 1840. That era of commercial success ended some 30 years later when the canal became obsolete and railroads became the primary mode of transporting passengers and freight.
Beginning at Canal Park northwest of downtown, you can visit an interpretive museum and a canal-era village with historical structures or experience replica canalboat tours. Tent camping and a few RV sites are also available.
A section of the network called the Underhill Towpath Trail is a good place to start; follow the 1-mile trail north across Washington Street to another section called the Founders Towpath Trail. This 0.5-mile trail loops around to the 0.5-mile Draper North End Trail and passes the restored iron bridge (from 1873) on its way to Founders Point and the “tumble,” where fresh groundwater feeds the canal. Draper Trail swings back past the cutoff to Belt Railroad Trail, a 0.3-mile section of trail along a former railroad that served local merchants and connected to Monon Railroad.
Draper Trail also runs past a replica limekiln from the 1850s canal heydays, as well as a replica warehouse and boathouse, and then back to Washington Street. Picking up the Underhill Towpath Trail heading south, you’ll pass a replica guard lock and a historical railroad baggage depot station.
You’ll pass through a tunnel under a railroad on the way out of town and then another tunnel under US 421. Follow the trail across the Blue Bridge, a 78-foot iron bridge built in 1905 and moved here in 2007. Now you’re on the mile-long VanScoy Towpath Trail, where historical markers provide information on an Irish work camp, the site of Lock #33, and paper mill sites.
At the end of the VanScoy Trail is Sunset Point, featuring a view of Deer Creek, the canal, and the Wabash River. A spur from the river goes to Robbins Trail, a 0.5-mile section along Deer Creek that offers access to Trailhead Park and Deer Creek Falls.
The Robbins Trail turns into Happy Jack’s Loop with a spur to the site of Smith Dairy Farm along the Interurban Trail, a 0.8-mile route. The interconnecting trail system also includes routes along city streets and paths along Campbell Ridge Trail (a 1-mile loop at the south end of VanScoy) and the Monon High Bridge Trail (1.5 miles) beginning at City Park at the corner of East Monroe and North Walnut Streets. The Monon High Bridge Trail stops just short of a circa 1890 railroad bridge that soars some 60 feet over the creek.
To reach the trailhead at Canal Park: From I-65, take Exit 175 toward Delphi on IN 25. Head northeast on IN 25, and go 10.9 miles. Turn left onto Old St. Road 25, and go 2.7 miles. Turn left onto W. Monroe St./US 421. In 0.6 mile turn right onto N. Ninth St. Go 0.2 mile and turn right into the driveway one block past New York St. Take that 0.4 mile to parking at Canal Park.
To find the Monon High Bridge Trail from Canal Park, leave the northeast entrance of the parking lot and turn right onto N. Washington St. Go 0.5 mile and turn left onto Monroe St. In another 0.5 mile turn right onto N. Walnut St. Go about 100 feet and look for parking on your right.
First of all at the present time September 4, 2017, route 18 from I-65 toward Delphi is closed. Our GPS kept trying to take us that way, and no matter what side street we tried when we came back to route 18 it was closed. So find an alternate route, before you head out. When we got into Delphi we went to Canal Park. There are some gravels paths that run along both sides of the canal. When we took a trail into town, there was absolutely no signage telling us where to find another bike trail, path, route or anything. We only managed to clock around 4 miles altogether. And about two miles of that was on the streets of Delphi. There are some nice historical houses and building to see along the way, so that was one positive thing. We were looking for a nice continuous trail, and that is not what we found here. We went into Lafayette instead.
My husband and I killed a whole afternoon riding these trails. It was very scenic, historic, and good, easy riding. We stopped at The Blue Moose in town for ice cream half way through the ride. I definitely recommend this trail, it's well worth it! Try and do a day where you have time to do all the trails. There are hidden gems on each one. We parked at the Canal Park where they had a map and just went everywhere from there.
This was such a nice surprise! Coming to Lake Freeman for several years and had no idea this trail exsisted. My son ran the trails while I walked with my dog. Trails in good shape and nice to get off asphalt for a change. Will definitely return.
We had a great time. Beautiful trail. What a treat to hike without a heavy coat in February. We had the trail to ourselves because it was off season. Well maintained. Really enjoyed the history posts along the way. Anxious to walk this trail each season!
This trail is nearly perfect with history, lots of shaded trail sections, great views, and refreshment stops in Canal Park or in town. We started out at Trailhead Park and took the 8 mile loop through town. The town section was mostly through wide residential streets so very nice. This trail is composed of sections and sometimes the sections do not seamlessly join into each other so make sure you take a map.
A nearly perfect trail, history, lots of shaded sections, great views, restrooms and concession stand at Canal Park, restaurants in town. The trail segment through the small town of Delphi is mostly through residential neighborhoods. The only minor problem is that one might need to do a minute search for the beginning of the next trail segment after completing another trail segment so make sure you have a trail map. We started at Trailhead Park and made a circle through town for a leisurely 8 mile afternoon bike ride.
We parked at Canal Park, very safe area to leave your vehicle unattended and right next to the trail. Coming from Indy and biking on the Monon with our Jeep broken into this is very important for us.
There is a great little bike shop for repairs and rentals right there in Canal Park and you can see it from the parking area. Run by Jean and Kevin Howell...nicest people you'll ever meet! Although we didn't rent bikes here we brought our own he gave us two highly detailed maps and advice on the best parts of the trails. Coming back from biking all day he was closing down. My bike pedal broke and he reopened the shop to repair it. Only cost $12 for two new pedals and no charge for the labor. We also got a look at their bikes to rent and they have great quality bikes, plus they have pedal surreys, and paddleboats! We just can't say enough about this couple.
The trails are a little bumpy and thick with gravel in some areas making the ride a little uncomfortable in spots. The trail is not one big trail but many little trails strung together. We did fine getting through all the trails in the wooded area near the canal but when we got to the trails downtown we got a little lost, thankfully we had the map to follow.
It's a great little friendly town, people are great there. We love history and outdoors so this was a great trail for us. So many things to see along the way, and a lot of the trails are in wooded areas so it's cool enough to ride even on a hot day!
The Delphi Historic Trail/Wabash & Erie Trail system in this small, north central Indiana community is truly a hidden gem for history buffs and outdoor recreation enthusiasts.
The system consists of about 10 miles of moderate to easy trails of mostly crushed stone that are multi-purpose use for a pleasant afternoon hike or ride.
Canal Park at 1030 W. Washington Street has become the central jumping off place for the trails.
Plenty of parking is available and there are restroom facilities (always good to know!), an Interpretive Museum of canal history, tours of the historic Case House, Noble Bikes bicycle/paddleboat rentals, snacks and drinks, and park benches to rest the legs.
The Underhill Towpath Trail runs through the park between the mile-long section of watered canal and the historic canal-era village.
The Underhill trail is a link to a dozen other short trails that run past the Wabash River, Deer Creek, through two city parks and along downtown streets where a number of historic homes have been preserved and a late-1800s opera house is being renovated.
The downtown streets of Delphi can also be used as links from one section of trails to another, not to mention a handy spot with several quaint restaurants to take time for leisurely lunch (Stonehouse Restaurant is popular with tasty homestyle food).
Trekking the trails can be a bit confusing but maps are available at the Canal Park interpretive museum and the Noble Bikes in the historic village.
Noble Bikes, in addition to bicycle rentals and paddleboats, also offers family pedal surreys for trips around town or on the easier trails along the canal.
I've ridden or hiked most if not all of the trails a number of times and it's always a pleasant experience whether a solitary hiker/biker, in a group, or as a family.
I highly recommend anyone interested in a pleasant hike/bike along waterways, wooded trails and historic structures to try the Delphi Historic-Wabash & Erie Canal trails.
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