Pennsy Trail

Indiana

Pennsy Trail Facts

States: Indiana
Counties: Hancock, Marion
Length: 11.4 miles
Trail end points: S. Arlington Ave. to S. Shortridge Rd. (Indianapolis); S. German Church Rd. and S. 600 W (Cumberland); S. 150 W to S. 400 E (Greenfield)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015830
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

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Pennsy Trail Description

The straight, paved Pennsy Trail—not to be confused with the Pennsy Greenway located farther north in the Chicago suburbs—occupies a portion of the old right-of-way of the Pennsylvania Railroad (“Pennsy” for short) and parallels the historic Old National Road. The Indiana portion of the corridor extended from Richmond, Indiana, through Indianapolis to the eastern border of Illinois. Along these tracks, the body of President Abraham Lincoln was carried back to Illinois on April 30, 1865.

The trail is currently open in three disjointed segments. On the eastern side of Indianapolis, a 1.2-mile stretch links the Irvington neighborhood with a local elementary school and a large Indiana Department of Transportation complex. A restored railroad trestle takes trail users over busy Shadeland Avenue.

Update: Irvington Extension - As of October, 1.6 mile extension had been completed, beginning at Arlington Ave. to Ritter Ave., then paralleling Ritter Ave north to meet the existing Pleasant Run Trail at Ellenberger Park. This creates an easy connection from Irvington to downtown Indianopolis via the Pleasant Run Trail and the Indianopolis Cultural Trail.

To the east of Indianapolis, a second paved section of the Pennsy Trail stretches across the town of Cumberland. The 3-mile segment passes industrial properties and crosses several restored railroad bridges through a wooded corridor before emerging into open farmland. The trail parallels US 40 for its entire length (although the highway is always out of view) and thus offers a much safer biking and walking alternative.

The third and longest section of the Pennsy Trail resumes 4.5 miles to the east of Cumberland in the city of Greenfield. Passing through farmland and the Greenfield Country Club golf course, the trail also traverses neighborhoods and is within a short walking distance of downtown. The nearly 6-mile stretch of trail crosses Brandywine Creek, alleged to be the creek where the "Old Swimmin' Hole" was found in James Whitcomb Riley's poem of the same name.

Plans call for all three open segments to be linked into a single Pennsy Trail in the future. The trail is also set to become one of the vital components of the National Road Heritage Trail, a proposed border-to-border trail stretching more than 150 miles between Terre Haute and Richmond, Indiana, on an abandoned Pennsylvania Railroad corridor.

Parking and Trail Access

In Indianapolis, parking is available at Irvington Plaza, midway along the trail (6243 Washington Street; park near the Dairy Queen just south of the Marsh grocery store).

In Cumberland, park at either of the two large shopping centers on both sides of S. German Church Road off E. Washington Street/US 40. Direct connections to the trail can be found in the parking lots.

In Greenfield, parking is available at each end of the trail: at CR 150 W and at CR 400 E, which also offers a portable toilet. Closer to downtown, you can park at Center Street and at Morristown Pike.

Pennsy Trail Reviews

This is truly a great trail. Nice and wide paved trail for walkers, runners, and cyclist. I mainly ride my bike since it is mainly flat. The only problem is a 4.5 mile gap between Cumberland and Greenfield. Donations can be made at www.PennsyTrailsOfHancockCounty.org to make this a 13.5 mile trail. Please help spread the word!

This trail is great! I love that it is so close to my house, and how beautiful it is. There are trees lining the way most of the way and the whole storage unit issue is nothing! Cars rarely enter and exit that area (and i mean RARELY) and i know that because i live almost right next to the storage units. The surface is so smooth on the trail and most of the people i cross paths with are very friendly. I think that this is a great place to go for a relaxing jog,walk,run! Only complaint, there should be more works of art!

The trailhead at 600W is closest to me, so that's where I usually start and ride east towards Cumberland/Meijers. But I have also ridden from 150W towards Greenfield. The times I have ridden the segments of the trail I think I passed less than 10 people walking or biking. So there isn't a lot going on with these trails. But that's what keeps me coming back. Although shorter, it's not busy like the more popular Monon Trail; you don't have to dodge others on the trail. It's flat, scenic, and depending on where you are, you have no idea that just north of you is busy US40. Funny, anytime anyone thinks of trails around Indy the Pennsy Trail is never mentioned--for me a well-kept secret.

There is a group based in Greenfield that is trying to raise money to join the sections from Cumberland to Greenfield. Funds are slow to come so they have made the decision to break up the acquisition of land into small sections. I wish them the best - it would be great to connect Cumberland to Greenfield in one segment.

Accordion

This review is based upon the 3-mile segment of Pennsy trail in Cumberland, with German Church Road on the west trailhead, and CR 600W on the east terminus in Hancock County. US 40, a.k.a. National Road, runs parallel just to the north of the trail. This trail is the former Pennsylvania Railroad which ran from Columbus, Ohio from about 1870 until 1970. The trail has a smooth asphalt surface that is in very good shape, great for walking, jogging, or biking.

You can get to the trail at its west terminus by parking at the Marsh. Immediately behind the Marsh, the trail is paved but currently marked for no trespassing toward the west, but if you cross German Church Road you will see that the trail actually begins here next to the rear Meijer entrance.

At the beginning of the trail you will see educational signs about our solar system. Our Sun is located next to German Church Road. Keep going east, and you will see the posters for all 4 of the inner planets Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The planet signs are spaced out along the trail to approximate the scale of our solar system, Neptune being closest to the 600W & US 40 terminus 3 miles from the start.

After you pass the back side of Meijer, you will see the sign for Jupiter and the trail then takes a jog 150 feet off path to the north, around a lumberyard and back side of the Cumberland Police Dept, then across Munsie Street and then back south to the Pennsy's original alignment. Now that you are past the lumber business, you enter the more scenic section of the trail. At this point the south side of the trail is lined by dense vegetation, and you will soon see the poster for Saturn.

As soon as you reach the appropriately keystone-shaped Mile Post 1, the trail crosses over Carroll Road with a bridge. It is at this point that artifacts of the railroad become evident. On the north side of the trail, you can see the old poles that held the code lines/telegraph wires that ran along the tracks. When you reach Buck Creek overpass, and you will see a poster describing the wetlands and watershed system. This is a very scenic area with just a couple newer homes behind the trees lining the south view of the trail.

A thousand feet or so to the east, look along the south edge of the trail, under the trees. You will start to see the railroad's now rotting, moss-covered, wooden ties that were pulled up from the tracks. The code lines are also now running along the south side, and occasionally you will see a stray ceramic insulator hanging from a remaining wire still threaded through the trees. I never saw any iron or remnants of rail, however.

The trail continues mostly lined by trees or agricultural zoning, and passing Uranus, until Mile Post 2 where it crosses road 700W at-grade. There is a sitting area near this milepost as there are at the other two mileposts.

At mile 2.5, close to Neptune, the trail is torn up and is being turned into a crossing where a storage unit complex is being built on the south of the trail alignment. This is quite insane, and I wonder how this even got past the permitting/zoning process. There will be vehicles crossing the trail at grade to get into the storage units. Why couldn't they build the storage units in the huge empty field on the north of the trail facing US 40? Like central Indiana needs more storage units anyways.

The trail then comes to an end at Mile Post 3, close to road 600W. There is a small parking lot and sitting/stretching area. On the other side of 600W going to the east are some properties which have acquired the former railroad's right-of-way. So it remains to be seen if the trail can be extended in this direction toward Greenfield.

I'm giving this trail 3 / 5 stars because of some of the ugly development that has taken place around the trail, disturbing the natural feel and setting. Near the Meijer and lumberyard you will see a lot of concrete and pavement. There is not much natural scenery, and a lot of trash along that part of the trail. It's a shame that an eyesore of a lumberyard cuts through the trail's original path, and the new ugly storage unit complex that is being built near 600W. But hopefully, with enough community support, the trail won't get spoiled or developed any further.

Pennsy Trail offers users some quiet peaceful, natural scenery in what used to be a very heavily traveled passenger and freight railroad. It also offers users an interesting educational perspective of our solar system. Some artifacts of the railroad are still present, but mostly just the remnants of the codeline poles. Very few people born after the 1980's will even realize that this used to be a historic railroad line. I hope this discontiguous part of the trail will be connected to the western segment in Indianapolis and the eastern one in Greenfield for a complete trail between both cities in the future, but those plans seem on hold for now. This trail has a lot of potential. If you're looking for a longer trail, check out the Monon Trail in Indy.

We have ridden the trail before, probably a year or so ago. Lightly traveled, not much to see along the way. We did stop at a local restaurant, (Riley House), for dinner. Pretty decent food, not cheap though! If you want to stop there when you are on the trail and get to Franklin St., go north up to Main St./Washington US 40 and it will be just to the left on the north side of the main street.

Hello... I ride all 3 Pennsy Trails... each has things I lkje and things I dont like.

the Cumberland Trailh is the best of the Pennsy Trails --- far and Away the best.

So many rail trails seem to want to eliminate every vestige of their railroad heritage...Even with their trail names. Well here, in my opinion, is the capping beauty of Indiana rail-trails which other preservation groups should study and model their trails after. This was the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Raceway" in its glory, and the folks out here are not going to let you forget that on Greenfield's Pennsy Trail! First and foremost, the trail is absolutely BEAUTIFUL, from endpoint to endpoint! Asphalt smooth as glass, with pristeen black topcoat. It is a JOY to cycle on! In the center of Greenfield, large photo plaques detail the unfortunate fate of the town's both passenger and freight depots, at their sites. As soon as I saw these, I knew this group was "on the right track", so to speak, with this trail preservation. Heading west from the depot sites, I noted that customary trail mile markers start from Mile 0 at both trail endpoints. But in addition, and I have RARELY seen this done, and nothing quite like this, the trail marks PENNSYLVANIA RAILROAD milepost markers 167, 168, and 169, at their correct timetable locations, on keystone shaped signs, with the PRR's keystone logo! Beautiful! These are mileages from Columbus (Ohio's) Union Depot, over the railroad's "freight" route through West Central Ohio via Urbana, Piqua, Bradford, New Paris, and Richmond, Indiana. (FYI, the PRR "passenger" route from Columbus, through Xenia and Dayton "zeroed out" again at Xenia, and those mile markers extended to MP51.7 at New Paris Junction) The "straight line" nature of this trail should by no means be noted as a detraction. Several miles at both ends of the trail are straight and smooth, but the Greenfield center offers a nice big "off-grade" loop around a big industry on the west end of town. And the trail's passage through city center is very interesting. Note the actual "station track" eastward from the depot site. This is the ONLY actual railroad TRACKAGE I encountered between Lewisville to the east, and the west end of this particular trail. From the east end of this trail westward to Interstate-469, this double-track main line was controlled by an operator at a CTC machine inside a little, single-story brick interlocking tower, "Thorne", which was located just east of the 469 overpass. You will notice that this trail doubles in width for a couple of miles at it east end, where the paralleling power line switches over from the north to the south side of the trail. This was a 4-track right-of-way out here, two main tracks with an eastward and a westward passing siding on both sides of those main tracks. At the end of the trail, and at that widening point, there were remote-controlled crossovers and signals, controlled by "Thorne" Tower, called "CP-East Riley" and "CP-West Riley." (James Whitcomb Riley) The names the Pennsy used at its "controlled points" (CP's) and towers were often most interesting, sometimes named after famous people or landmarks, and sometimes mysteriously named. This is a great trail that is well used and enjoyed. The Pennsy Trail is a MUST for trail enthusiasts and railroad historians alike! The people of Greenfield have a real gem out here that they should be most proud of! Nice work, guys! -Rich Ballash, Latrobe PA 9/16/2012

I agree with previous reviews, not a lot to see, but you will be hard pressed to find a trail that is in better shape or more accessible. I rode it in on 07/21/2012 when we had an 85 degree day after three weeks of 100 degree heat, so I was fortunate to have ridden it on a perfect day. Definitely ride if you're in the area, it is a well-kept as any trail you will ever be on. The city of Greenfield should be commended. I'll give it a 4 just because of the upkeep!

The Pennsy Trail in Greenfield, IN is a mostly linear trail as would be expected with a rail-trail. The in-town portion of the trail passes by light manufacturing and warhousing areas as well as a few neighborhoods. There are not too many cross streets to deal with and there is a safety gate at the busiest intersection at State Road 9.

The east and west sections outside of the downtown area are fairly similar with trees on both sides of the trail, but no real canopy over the trail. The western leg does curve north around a large business compound and skirts near US 40 for a short while and then jogs back south to bick up the old rail line again. This is a welcomed diversion from the otherwise straight trail. The rural areas offer some views of farm fields and open fields, but in many places the views are blocked by the trees on both sides in the summer months. However, the trees do block some businesses that front US 40, so the lack of view on this side of the trail is a good thing. The eastern leg passes by a mature stand of trees on the south side, which did offer afternoon shade on the trail in late summer. This section also passes over Brandywine Creek.

There are parking lots at each trailhead and a fairly spacious one at the trailend on CR 150 W. The trailhead at CR 400 E also has a port-o-let.

All in all, this is a very nice trail that is well marked and maintained. The 5.3 mile distance makes it a nice biking option since it is over 10 miles roundtrip. The trail is not particularly scenic, which is why I rated it a 3 instead of a 4. However, don't let this discourage you from using the trail. It is a very nice trail and I would recommend it.

This trail is close to home just a 15 mile bike ride.. It is really a nice trail, paved all the way. A new addition was added to make it about 3 miles longer.

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