Heritage Trail of Madison


Register for free!

Register for free with TrailLink today!

We're a non-profit all about helping you enjoy the outdoors
  • View over 30,000 miles of trail maps
  • Share your trail photos
  • Save your own favorite trails
  • Learn about new trails near you
  • Leave reviews for trails
  • Add new and edit existing trails

Heritage Trail of Madison Facts

States: Indiana
Counties: Jefferson
Length: 2 miles
Trail end points: W. Vaughn Dr. and Vernon St. at the Ohio River (downtown) and Madison State Hospital (hilltop)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt, Dirt, Grass, Gravel
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6032608
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

With Unlimited:

  • Export to My Trail Guide
  • Create Guidebook
  • Download GPX
  • Download Offline Maps
  • Print Friendly Map
Upgrade Now

Heritage Trail of Madison Description

The Heritage Trail of Madison connects the downtown of Madison, Indiana, with its steep hilltop section. Begin your journey at the intersection of Vaughn Drive and Vernon Street along the Ohio River. From there, the trail follows an abandoned Madison, Indianapolis & Lafayette Railroad corridor north through a strand of trees before emerging at the local wastewater treatment plant. The railroad tracks are still in place, and the trail has a natural surface at times with gravel occasionally present.

After passing under Main Street, you have the option to continue up either McIntire Street or the old railroad grade—first crossing an old bridge over Crooked Creek—to reach the switchback portion of the Heritage Trail. Be sure to take a peek north up the corridor from the east side of McIntire Street: known as “the incline” or “the cut,” this part of the old railroad line had the steepest incline of any standard gauge railroad in the country.

Traveling southwest from just north of the bridge over Crooked Creek will lead you via a gravel-surfaced trail to Clifty Hollow Road/State Route 56 near the entrance to Clifty Falls State Park. Continuing northwest instead will take you up the steep hill through dense forest to the historic Madison State Hospital. With a grade of 6% to 10%, this segment is challenging for most users, although the trail is paved from there to its northern terminus.

The Madison State Hospital, which occupies much of the hilltop, is the ultimate destination. Stop to take a breather and gaze in awe at the stunning views of downtown Madison, the Ohio River and rural Kentucky on the opposite shore. The psychiatric hospital, which is still active, is alone worth a trip. Opened in 1910, the innovative facility eschewed physical violence in favor of “moral treatment,” which coupled a beautiful, calming environment with productive work. Most of the Mediterranean-influenced buildings with red tile roofs are still standing today.

Parking and Trail Access

Parking for the Heritage Trail of Madison is available at the intersection of Vaughn Drive and Vernon Street in downtown Madison. Farther north, limited parking can be found at the end of McIntire Street. If you choose to start your journey at the top of the hill and travel down the steep incline, park at the Madison State Hospital off N. Outer Road.

Heritage Trail of Madison Reviews

We usually start this trail parked at the State Hospital N Road. We loop around the grounds and then head down the Heritage Trail to the bottom of the hill. You can choose to come up the same way or walk the railroad tracks that also lead to the top of the hill with a diversion onto Hwy 7 for a few feet.

We always see deer, groundhogs, skunks, and all kinds of birds. This is a beautiful trail that we know is worth the drive to get to.

Trail Events

This trail does not have any events yet.
Be the first to add one!

Add an Event

Nearby Trails

Lewis and Clark Bridge Trail

Indiana - 2.5 miles

This multipurpose trail provides a safe, non-motorized alternative to cross the Ohio River between Jeffersonville, Indiana and Louisville, Kentucky....

Dearborn Trails (Aurora - Lawrenceburg - Greendale)

Indiana - 5.4 miles

The Greendale segment runs 1 mile between Walnut Street and Hollywood Boulevard at Eads Parkway, paralleling Eads Parkway/US 50 on the east side....

Louisville Loop

Kentucky - 50.51 miles

In the 1890s, pre-eminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. envisioned large community parks connected to the neighborhoods of Louisville...


Clarksville Heritage Trail

Indiana - 1.6 miles

The Clarksville Heritage Trail links the residential heart of Clarksville, Indiana, with its growing trail system and two local parks. The trail,...

Ohio River Greenway

Indiana - 2.7 miles

The Ohio River Greenway (formerly known as the Clarksville Levee Trail) winds through Clarksville, Indiana, on top of the levees designed to hold back...

Big Four Bridge

Indiana - 0.5 miles

The Big Four Bridge links Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, over the majestic Ohio River, once described by Thomas Jefferson as “the...

Columbus People Trail

Indiana - 15.7 miles

The Columbus People Trail offers an easy and convenient way for residents in this small Indiana city to get around by bike or on foot. The network...

Aero Parkway Bicycle Trail

Kentucky - 2.3 miles

This shared use path may only be 2.3 miles long, but it is appreciated by residents in Florence as a place to exercise. It travels alongside Aero...

Shaker Trace Trail

Ohio - 7.8 miles

The Shaker Trace Trail forms a loop around Miami Whitewater Forest, the largest county-run park in Hamilton County. The fully-accessible, paved trail...

Ohio River Trail (OH)

Ohio - 7.6 miles

When complete, the Ohio River Trail in eastern Cincinnati will be an important 23-mile connector between downtown, riverfront parks, the city's...

Ohio to Erie Trail

Ohio - 271.9 miles

The Ohio to Erie Trail is a colossal project, not just for the state of Ohio but also nationally. Dreamed up more than 25 years ago, this route will...

Mill Creek Greenway Trail

Ohio - 3 miles

The growing Mill Creek Greenway Trail follows one of Cincinnati’s most important urban waterways and will one day stretch 14 miles through the city's...

Download the TrailLink mobile app and take TrailLink with you!
Support TrailLink and the Trails You Love in 2020!
Get a FREE guidebook when you join Rails-to-Trails Conservancy!

Explore by City

Explore by City

Explore by Activity

Explore by Activity

Log in to your account to:

  • View trail paths on the map
  • Save trails to your account
  • Add trails, edit descriptions
  • Share photos
  • Add reviews

Log in with Google


Register for free!

Join TrailLink (a non-profit) to view more than 30,000 miles of trail maps and more!

Register with Google