Bike Trail: Indiana's Cardinal Greenway
Discover the Cardinal Greenway
The Cardinal Greenway is the longest single bike trail in Indiana. It's a paved rail trail which is used by walkers, runners, bicyclists and those with inline skates. It's great for fitness training*, families, and anyone who loves outdoor activities.
Learn more about this Indiana bike trail as I share what I've learned about it from the numerous trips I've made along it's length. Please also enjoy a few of the photos I've taken.
* the trail includes some fitness stations and it's often low traffic, however, riders need to be careful about speed as they share the path with pedestrians!
An Introduction to the Cardinal Greenway
The Cardinal Greenway is located in the eastern half of Indiana. It runs along part of the CSX rail line. It's start and end points at the current time are Gaston and Losantville, Indiana; a 27 mile distance one way.
Muncie (population 65,000+) lies near the midpoint as the trail runs it's northwest to southeast course. There are portions of this rail trail which are also completed within Richmond, beyond the southeast end of the trail, and Marion, beyond the northwest end, but they aren't currently connected. Thus the majority of the trail lies within Delaware county at this time, although it was recently extended a bit further south into Randolph County.
For bicyclists who are seeking more adventure, a bike route beyond the northern end of the Greenway is marked along county roads to take them further north through Grant County and the city of Marion.
Along the Trail
The current trail is relatively flat although there are a number of gradual ascents/descents between Muncie and Mount Pleasant. For now, Muncie can provide a convenient place to rest or to get a meal for those traveling the entire distance as it's near a midpoint in the course of the Cardinal Greenway.
There are numerous parking areas for trail visitors. One is at the depot in Muncie (pictured above) near Jackson and Wysor. To get maps which include parking and other information, look here.
Like nearly any bike trail in Indiana, you'll pass through quite a bit of farm land as you go. Corn and bean fields, cows, and barns are frequent sights along the trail.There is growth along each side of the trail for much of it's length to help block some of the wind but the trail doesn't lie primarily in a wooded area and there is quite a bit of sun exposure.
Trail traffic isn't too heavy most of the time, but bicyclists need to be aware that there are many road and street crossings to navigate. A few of the ones in the Muncie area can be quite busy and require vigilance, particularly if you're traveling with small children. The crossing at McGalliard is particularly challenging.
As you travel along the trail, bicyclists also have the opportunity to explore country roads that cross the trail. This can be an interesting excursion if you have the time to explore. Not all of these roads are well maintained but all of the ones I've seen are paved.
A Side Excursion
Side excursions on county roads and taking the designated bike routes beyond the Cardinal Greenway are a great way to see the country side or to simply expand your trip. A good map, some planning, and appropriate items for safety are all that's needed for a good experience. (Helmets are always recommended and keeping water with you at all times is wise)
Another side trip that's worthy of mention however, is the White River Greenway which winds through some old estates and historic portions of Muncie near the White River. It can be accessed just northwest of the Depot along the Cardinal Greeway. The photo of the old railway bridges crossing the river I have below, are located at the point where you can join this route. It also takes you by Minnetrista which has beautiful gardens where you can stroll.
If you're looking for a meal, the easiest access in Muncie is at the McGalliard crossing. Restraurants such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse, and many more are all within a few hundred feet of the trail.
A Few Words of Caution
If you're new to riding bike trails here are a few basics to make sure you have a good experience.Be sure to take along necessary items for your comfort and safety. Plenty of water, perhaps a snack, sun block, any medications such as for allergies, and so forth are a good idea. In cooler weather, a sweater or jacket, hats, and so forth are good to have on hand. Check your bikes before leaving. Make sure everything is working properly and tires are aired up. Taking along a pump and spare are a good idea at all times. Helmets are always recommended, even on bike trails. Watch out for those who are moving more slowly than you. Pass on the left and let them know you are approaching. Be vigilant at crossings. If you have small children with you this is especially important. Take breaks when needed. If you don't ride routinely, 27 miles can be quite a distance. Don't over ride your abilities. Remember that if you ride the full 27 miles, you also have to ride an additional 27 miles on the return trip.