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Running along a former rail bed, the Whitewater Canal Trail parallels the Whitewater Canal as it takes hikers and cyclists through the heart of the Whitewater River Valley in Franklin County.
The 11-mile trail runs from Laurel Feeder Dam Trailhead almost all the way to downtown Brookville. Following the original path used by mules pulling boats through the canal, the towpath was subsequently used by the railroad as a ready-made bed on which to lay track. Returned to its original iteration as a path, it has become a walking and biking trail.
The route was built in phases and for a while was composed of three noncontiguous trail segments, which are now connected. Following both the Whitewater Canal and the feeder dam built to provide water for the Whitewater Canal, the northern-most segment is also known as the Feeder Dam Trail and runs 2.5 miles from Laurel to Metamora. The trail briefly parallels a local active railroad, which offers excursion train rides and can be seen from the trail. From the Feeder Dam Trail, the middle section connects with the 0.2-mile Yellow Bank Trail phase, which finished the connection between Metamora with Brookville.
With its wide and flat gravel surface, the trail is perfect for riding a bike or walking. From Laurel, the trail heads southeast through Metamora and Yellow Bank on its way to Brookville. Winding through woods, farm lands, and fields, the path offers access to a variety of fun activities and noteworthy historical sites.
Points of interest in Metamora include the restored Grist Mill, where visitors can experience the mill grinding corn into flour using the water power of the canal, just as it did in the 19th century. The canal locks have also been restored to their former glory, as has Duck Creek Aqueduct, the country's only known example of a covered wooden aqueduct. The canal's railroad history is apparent through the parallel railroad tracks (now used as an excursion line) and remaining mileposts. The trail also features a river overlook, boasting some of the finest views of the river you will find. For those interested in taking a little detour, Franklin County hosts a variety of festivals year-round and Metamora has a number of vintage shops and restaurants.
East of Metamora, Brookville Lake is open for swimming, boating, and fishing. Horseback riding is also available. At the north end of the lake, you'll find the Whitewater Memorial State Park and on the southeastern shore, the Mounds State Recreation Area. In Yellow Bank, the passes by a wildlife habitat, the site of an old ice-harvesting pond, and the ruins of the Yellow Bank Lock. In the town of Brookville, the trail ends by the Tecumseh Landing. Take a little path from the Visitor Center to the bank of the beautiful Whitewater River or explore Brookville's farmers’ market.
Parking is available at numerous locations along the route. Please see the map for details and directions.
In Metamora, park at the Duck Creek Aqueduct or at Lock 24 (includes accessible parking).
In Yellow Bank, parking is available at Yellow Bank Road & US Route 52.
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