Vandalia Trail Gets Facelift Between Amo, Coatesville
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 11:23 PM by Eric Ivie
Bikers, hikers, walkers and equestrians: if you haven't yet experienced the Vandalia Trail -- or if you haven't experienced it in awhile -- it's time to visit Hendricks County and see all the improvements made to the three-mile stretch between the towns of Amo and Coatesville, Ind. The Vandalia Trail is built along the east-west line of the former Vandalia Railroad and currently sports 12.3 miles of continuous trail for hikers and bikers between Greencastle and Amo. The three miles of rustic rail-trail between Coatesville and Amo offer an additional parallel trail for equestrians. The Vandalia Trail opened in Amo on June 26, 2005, and has been continuously improved over the past nine years by a whole slew of dedicated volunteers, grants and sponsorships. Most recently, in April 2014, more than 100 aluminum signs -- funded by Visit Hendricks County and the Greenways Foundation -- were posted along the trail between Amo and Coatesville, vastly improving the trail's visibility and appeal to visitors. In May 2014, a grant from the Hendricks County Community Foundation funded operating expenses such as liability insurance and weed control. Hendricks County Parks & Recreation jumped right in and offered to spread the herbicide with their equipment. So what does all of this translate into, in visitors' terms? Well, I decided to take my daughters with me to check out all of the improvements since I hadn't been on the trail for several years. Thanks to the new signage, it was super easy to find the Vandalia Trail head at the intersection of Pearl and South streets (County Road 500 South) in Amo. There's free public parking just a few feet west of the intersection of Railroad and Vine streets, and new signs provide hikers, bikers and equestrians with all sorts of valuable information about the trail. (Equestrians, there is horse trailer parking and a hitching rail right across Pearl Street, in front of the restored Amo Interurban Depot and grain elevator.) Once on the trail, it's a beautiful walk under a near-constant canopy of trees. The trail surface is mostly well-groomed grass with the occasional brief switch to gravel. Since it's built on the former railroad, the trail is smooth and without ankle-breaking divots or trip-inducing humps. It's also, for the most part, flat. That makes for a nice easy stroll, even for two elementary school-aged kids and their old fat dad. We noticed a lot of birds as we walked along, and my daughters' sharp eyes caught sight of some birdhouses in the woods. It was quite peaceful as we walked along the wide, roomy, immaculately maintained trail out in the middle of a rural area, away from the sounds of traffic and city life. We made it to the old rail trestle that traverses Crittenden Creek. The view up the creek was terrific, as was the sound of the water 30 feet below us. We rested on the bridge for several minutes as we took in the sights and sounds. Down on the equestrian trail, horses simply cross Crittenden Creek in a shallow spot and come upon a picnic table complete with a hitching rail and a stool to help riders get back in the saddle after a break. The Vandalia Trail continues into Coatesville, where the equestrian trail ends. Horse trailers can park in a gravel lot on Mill Street, just south of Main Street. Passenger cars park along Railroad Street, just east of Milton Street. While there is no electricity, fresh water or public restrooms along this portion of the Vandalia Trail, there are such amenities at either end of it. In Amo, the Amo General Store, home of the famous Amo Pizza Shop, is a half-block north of the trailhead. That's where we refueled with drinks and snacks after our walk. Public restrooms are in the Amo Interurban Depot. In Coatesville, the Vandalia Trail spits out right in the middle of the business district, offering all sorts of options for refreshment such as the Cinnamon Girls Bakery & Cafe. The Vandalia Trail continues west out of Coatesville for bikers and hikers who want to travel to Greencastle. That'll have to be a journey for another day for me and my girls. But thanks to the continuous and recent improvements to the Hendricks County portion of the Vandalia Trail, we found ourselves enjoying a fun, free outdoors family activity. What will you discover on the Vandalia Trail?