Sweetser Switch Trail

Indiana

Sweetser Switch Trail Facts

States: Indiana
Counties: Grant
Length: 3 miles
Trail end points: County Rd. N 400W and County Rd N. 700W (Sweetser)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6015374
Trail activites: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Sweetser Switch Trail Description

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 of 1,230 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 and a caboose 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  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 and has a covered bridge, as well as wildflowers, 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. The trail connects 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.

Parking and Trail Access

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.

Sweetser Switch Trail Reviews

It may be short, but a direct connection with the fantanamous Cardinal Greenway Trail to Jonesboro makes this a 27.4 mile round trip trail set! The Sweetser Switch Trail was a small piece of the Pennsylvania Railroad's "Main Line - Columbus to Chicago", a 60mph, double track, passenger and freight railroad. Conrail downgraded these "Panhandle" lines in 1982, and most of the trackage is now ripped up. The Panhandle Pathway, between Kenneth and Winamac, is a longer portion of this same line, heading toward Chicago. There are several notable railroad relics on the trail, in particular, two beautiful cast concrete mileposts, in pristeen condition. Milepost "C163", indicating the spot 163 miles west of Columbus Union Depot, so engraved, is located just 0.1 miles east of the Main Street trail complex, and "C164" is located 0.9 miles west of the trailhead. Another sweet little set of remnants are the ground off concrete signal bases for "CP (Controlled Point)-Tykle", located just west of MP164. There was an interlocking plant here (signals and switches), controlled by the tower in Marion, where the Nickel Plate crossed this line. I have a 1940's Union Switch & Signal 8x10 black and white photo which shows an eastbound K4-headed eastbound passenger train passing this plant! Connected with this signal system, check out the relay case, and its adjacent concrete battery box, still in place 0.4 miles east of MP164, hidden in the trees on the north side of the right-of-way, hiding along with scattered telegraph poles. Now, if you want to have a look at what this railroad looked like, head east on the Cardinal Trail until you see a break in the treeline on your left. There is a switch connecting the track you are following there, over to the intact stub end of the Pennsy, which serves the GM plant to your north. The views both ways at the grade crossing are beautiful. Two tracks, the westbound welded rail, the eastbound track jointed. The massive pole line. That's what it looked like just a mile or two west, at Sweetser. Incidentally, the solar lights did not come on, and I had especially hoped to see this unique trail lighting in operation. P.S. Try the grilled salmon steak at the restaurant right across "Pennsylvania Street" at Main, directly across from the Sweetser Trailhead. The food there is excellent! Kudos to everyone out at the Sweetser Switch! It is truly one sweet little piece of the Pennsy! -Rich Ballash, Latrobe, PA 9-13-2014.

I am one of the regular users of this fine trail. As a hobby I ride trails throughout the country and I find this trail to be one of the finer trails that I have ridden. One mile of this linear trail is also a park. (Run by the Sweetser Switch Park Board) This part of the trail is manicured with lots of trees on it. You can memorialize a loved one here by purchasing one of the trees on the trail. For about $150 you can memorialize one of your friends or family on the trail and receive a plague as well as a planted tree. This fine trail has a tree nursery that is growing small trees that will later be planted on the trail. All proceeds go to the upkeep of the trail. Volunteers abound from this small town that make this one of the neater trails in the midwest. In 2009 this trail will connect to the Cardinal Greenway and that is causing lots of excitement in this area. Please stop and visit this trail.

Accordion

My wife and I rode this trail several times last summer (2007). We found the trail to be quite relaxing, if not a bit on the short side. One of our favorite spots is at the West end of the trail… it is a covered bridge with a picnic area going over a small stream. We plan on packing a picnic lunch next season and spending some time at the bridge. I would highly recommend this trail to anyone that is in search of just a pleasant little get away. It will be much better when it is joined with the cardinal greenway to the East, and there are plans in the works to extend it to the West to the town of Converse IN.

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