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The Vandalia Trail is the longest open component of the National Road Heritage Trail (NRHT), a proposed border-to-border trail stretching between Terre Haute and Richmond, a span of more than 150 miles. Much of the NRHT occupies part of a former Pennsylvania Railroad corridor—the successor to the Vandalia Railroad—which closely parallels the Historic National Road.
The Vandalia Trail consists of two disconnected segments. The first segment runs nearly 12 miles from Greencastle to Amo. The second segment runs about 4 miles through the suburban neighborhoods and parks of Plainfield.
Starting in Greencastle, visitors will find trailhead parking and a gazebo. However, the route goes 0.6 mile on lightly traveled North Calbert Way until the official separated trail begins. The trail surface is packed crushed stone into Coatesville. The path includes several covered shelters along the way, but there are no restroom facilities other than the public library in Coatesville on this segment of the trail.
This section of trail, through Fillmore and into Coatesville, is largely uninterrupted by road crossings and offers trailside wildflowers with an abundance of birds and butterflies and farm fields. Bluebirds, finches, and herons frequent this corridor, offering excellent birding opportunities. In both Fillmore and Coatesville, trailside businesses provide a place to rest and get a bite to eat. A separate bridle trail parallels much of the path and occasionally joins the main trail, but horses are required to remain on the grass in these combined stretches.
For the remaining 3 miles, from Coatesville to Amo, the Vandalia Trail traverses enchanted woodlands along an elevated railbed leading up to the trestle 30 feet above Crittenden Creek. A separate horse trail follows beside the main path, and there is a hitch rail at Crittenden Creek. This well-maintained stretch into Amo changes periodically from grass to gravel but is easily navigable with a hybrid bike. Plans are underway to pave this section in 2017.
The 4.6-mile Plainfield segment begins with a trailhead at its western end on Vandalia Boulevard. For now, this paved section is the only portion of the trail appropriate for in-line skating and wheelchairs. Heading east from the starting point, the route travels through woodlands behind residential communities and then through a tunnel under the Saratoga Parkway to the Splash Island Family Waterpark.
Immediately past the water park, the path intersects with the White Lick Creek Trail, which heads south at the circular intersection. Go left over the bridge to stay on the Vandalia Trail as it navigates past the ballparks and playgrounds of Franklin Park. The trail continues into the neighborhood and takes a sharp left onto North East Street, heading up a short hill. At the top of the hill, the scenery changes as you wind your way out of the neighborhood. The trail takes on a more remote feeling as it passes through woodlands to the parking lot at the trail’s end.
The Plainfield trail is heavily used by the local community; expect to see walkers, runners, dog walkers, and cyclists.
On the east end of the trail in Plainfield, parking is available at the trailhead at the end of Township Line Road, at Franklin Park, and at Splash Island Family Waterpark. To reach the parking lot at Township Line Road, take I-70 to Exit 68 for Ronald Reagan Pkwy. N. Go 3 miles on the exit ramp, veering right for the northbound parkway, and continue onto Ronald Reagan Pkwy. an additional 1.3 miles. Turn left onto Stout Heritage Pkwy. Go 1 mile and turn right onto Perry Road. Go 1 mile to the traffic circle and take the third exit (heading left, south) onto Smith Road. Take an immediate right onto Township Line Road to the trailside parking lot.
In Amo, parking can be found at the small lot 1 block west of the intersection of Railroad Street and Vine Street. Horse trailer parking is available in front of the restored Interurban Depot at the intersection of Pearl Street and South Street, which offers a steel hitch rail.
In Coatesville, you can park your car anywhere in the business district near the intersection of Railroad Street and Milton Street. Horse trailer parking is available where the trail intersects Mill Street just south of Main Street (behind the grain silo on the west side of town). Park between Mill Street and the wooden hitch rail about 100 feet to the east.
Just to the west of Fillmore, there is a small trailhead with parking at the northern end of County Road 475 E.
On the west end of the trail in Greencastle, a trailhead with parking can be found at the intersection of N. Calbert Way and Indianapolis Road/IN 240. Take I-70 to Exit 59 for IN 39. Head north toward Belleville. Go 4.3 miles and turn left onto US 40. Go 9.9 miles and turn right onto County Road 200 S./IN 240. Go 8.6 miles and turn right onto N. Calbert Way to find the trailhead 200 feet on your left.
We set out from Greencastle and the gravel surface there is sound but the bike path isn't on the railroad bed so it winds a bit with small ups and downs. Not for skinny tires! But it was lovely and ride-able on our mid-tire bikes. The section from Coatesville to Amo was asphalt that was smooth as glass. What a lovely treat! The whole distance was partly tree covered so the sun didn't bake us, but enough open places to enjoy the fields and flowers.
What a beautiful trail! Newly paved from Amo for a few miles before hitting the gravel path. We did the full 16 and was hoping there would be a restaurant to stop at once we hit Coatsville but there was nothing convenient at the end of the trail. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. Beautiful scenery. We saw butterflies and hummingbirds throughout most of the trail. Very peaceful.
I live within five miles of the Amo trailhead but until this week I have never been on the trail. What a pleasant change in perspective. I know the roads and communities along the trail in western Hendricks county but never at such a delightful pace. Coming back soon!
I rode the portion of the trail from Amo to Fillmore and back on Sunday, October 18, 2015. Very surprised to find that in two and a half hours of pedaling, I encountered only one other cyclist, along with two pedestrians and two women on horseback. This was a picture perfect October day with temperatures in the low seventies! I have to agree with the other reviewer who remarked that the unpaved surface seems to scare riders away. It shouldn't, it's a very firm-packed surface for most of the way. Obviously, it takes more effort and a bit longer to ride than a paved surface, but that only adds to its charm.
Of special interest to me as a railroad buff was the Interurban Depot in Amo, built by the T.H.I. & E. (Terre Haute, Indianapolis and Eastern Traction Company) in 1907, and now on the National Register of Historic Places. It is basically located at the trail head in Amo, and is a well restored gem that is now used as the Amo Reading Room. Unfortunately it's only open from 6:00-8:00 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays, and for two hours on the first Saturday of each month. The T.H.I. & E. only operated from 1907 to 1931, and apparently shared the roadbed with the Vandalia Railroad. The town of Amo, pop. Approx. 420, is a dlight and has more of an old west feel than you would expect to find in a town only about 20 miles west of Indianapolis. The ancient Amo General Store is open, and doubles as a pizza parlor.
The ride itself is mostly rural, but every grain elevator and silo I passed was bustling with activity, as the cornfields were being harvested, taking full advantage of the dry, sunny weather.
Had a great ride. A very quiet Monday. Didn't see anyone. Trail in great shape. Cool little towns along the way. I started in Amo went to Greencastle and back.
The Vandalia Trail is really two trails in one. The personality of these two trails could not be more different.
The eastern section spans the Indianapolis suburb of Plainfield from Township Line Road and Hunt Street just SW of the roundabout at Township Line and Smith Road to South Country Road 500 E on the west end of town. There's a short section in the middle that follows city streets, but this trail is paved and well maintained. There's even a nice underpass at Sycamore Street. For the most part, it is tree lined as it winds through subdivisions, many of which have direct connections.
The western section of the trail is more rural in nature as it extends from Amo IN west to the town of Fillmore where it connects with the People Pathway and continues on to Greencastle. The section of this trail between Amo and Coatsville is dirt and grass and it's crushed stone (think Katy Trail) with some loose larger rock between Coatsville and Fillmore.
I rode the entire length of the trail recently. You don't need a mountain bike to traverse the western section. I did it on a Kona Rove gravel grinder with 700 x 35 tires, drop bars and disk brakes and it was a breeze. I would not bring a road bike with narrower tires on it but you could certainly do it on a city bike, fixxie, whatever.
Although I ride the eastern trail regularly, this was my first trip on the western section. I loved it. The fact that it is not paved keeps the hordes away. I had it to myself on a Sunday morning. Parking is easy in Amo or Fillmore, but if you're so inclined you might want to start in Plainfield and head west on East County Road 400 North. There's not a lot of traffic and it makes for a delightful long ride that combines rural roads and trails.
We just biked the Vandalia trail from Greencastle to Amo. The scenery was beautiful however I would only recommend using a mountain bike because the trail surface varies so much and has many rough and soft stretches. Because of the grass it was hard to tell where the trail was in places. No doubt this would be an excellent biking trail if the surface were improved.
I mountain-biked the trail from Amo to Coatesville to Fillmore and back and had a wonderful afternoon away from the bustle of Indianapolis.
As discussed in the Trail Link description, the segment from Amo to Coatesville is extremely scenic and easy to bike. Tall trees created a cool tunnel lined with summer wildflowers virtually the entire way, and the equestrian/hiking path off to the side was even prettier. The surface on this stretch is smooth, packed dirt and grass, helping to create a bucolic, secret-garden-like experience.
From Coatesville to Fillmore, the trees give way to farm fields on either side. However, sheltered benches seemed to appear up ahead at just the right time for a rest and some cooling shade.The surface here is deep, crushed gravel that I found hard to get through at times, even on a mountain bike. Fallen walnuts and ruts could also be a hazard.
You could navigate this trail from Amo to Coatesville either on a street bike or mountain bike, at least if it isn't too wet. A bike with larger tires is probably a necessity on the Coatesville-to-Fillmore stretch. You might get by with a street bike, but I can't imagine it would be fun.
This trail is a true jewel set in central Indiana. The trail itself has a variety of surfaces: crushed rock, grass and a few paved areas running through the towns of Fillmore and Coatesville. It is uniformly smooth and well maintained and makes for a smooth, but interesting bicycling experience. The scenery also varies from open farm ground to deep woods to bucolic small towns. The Fillmore to Coatesville section also features a nice selection of prairie wildflowers. Definitely worth the trip.
Well maintained and well marked trail near Amo. Easy to find. Nice parking at both sides of the trail head. Sturdy benches along the way. Recently walked the trail and saw a half dozen deer long the way.
Thoroughly enjoyed a lovely 2 1/2 mile walk. Wide trails allowed bikes and walkers to easily co-exist. Dog friendly with dog stations and poo bags.
This trail, although short, is very nicely designed and has a lot of scenery and shade. You will park at the park, where there is a lot of space to do so, there are really awesome playground equipment areas for the kids, lots of picnic tables with shady trees (plus for dogs!), and even grills in case you want to make a day of it. Again, the trail itself is short, but very well maintained, many clean sitting areas-some with fountains, and some really neat bridges to go over along the way. The trail is pretty shaded, great for warmer days. You can extend your ride if you want by going into trails that lead in and out of subdivisions. There is also a war memorial at one end of the trail. If you get hungry, there are a lot of different restaurants and even some antique stores right there in Plainfield. The trail also goes over a scenic river-way where you can fish if you like. We put this on the list to do with kids.
If you are a semi-long distance (and no, I'm not talking cross country, egads!) rider like me (avg 54 to 70 miles round-trip), or even above my level, you love shortcuts when they are available. I'm not trying to say that anyone reading this is lazy, but every cyclists needs to take their breaks and at their level of riding. The People's Pathways is a great shortcut between Coatsville and Fillmore, Indiana. And in Fillmore, there is a mom-and-pop diner, which is a word-of-mouth "great place to stop" called Bert and Betty's; apparently infamous, for their kind service, relaxing atmosphere, and laid back small town charm. Sometimes they don't even charge you for low-cost items if you are low on cash, but don't try to get a stack of pancakes for free... I'm talking like a cup of coffee or a soda, here, guys. But be polite, let them offer it to you... don't just think that because I said that, that you'r on freebies with them. They are a business, after all. Also as a note of caution, and correction from the previous review, there is one intersection of path and road, between Greencastle and Fillmore on the People's Pathways.
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