In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Vandalia Railroad connected Hendricks County towns, providing convenient travel and thriving commerce between them. Today’s Vandalia Trail corridor vibrantly restores that link with a modern progressive twist. Improvements to the western section of the trail and plans for connectivity open up opportunities for future travel and commerce.
Hendricks County Parks & Recreation operates a four-mile section of the Vandalia Trail – a scenic biking and hiking corridor with a parallel equestrian trail – that closely follows the Historic National Road (U.S. 40) from Amo through Coatesville to the Hendricks-Putnam County line. There, it connects with Putnam County’s People Pathway, which extends west from the county line to Greencastle.
The trail surface of this section is currently a combination of natural surface and packed stone, but engineers and construction crews are now preparing the entire four-mile section to be paved in the spring. Most of the cost of this project is covered by a federal grant.
Scheduled improvements also include the installation of modern restrooms at the Amo and Coatesville trailheads, improved parking at both trailheads, the addition of way-finding and informational signage along the trail, and replacement of the bridge over Crittenden Creek.
The Vandalia Trail is part of the National Road Heritage Trail system that will eventually stretch continuously across the state of Indiana from Terre Haute to Richmond. Plainfield Parks & Recreation operates a 4.6-mile paved section of the Vandalia Trail that extends from County Road 500 East to Township Line Road in Plainfield, and Hendricks County Parks & Recreation is currently seeking land between Amo and Plainfield to connect the two trail sections by way of Clayton and Cartersburg in the future.
Visitors may be arriving by bicycle, on foot, or on horseback now instead of by train, but town officials in Amo and Coatesville recognize that connectivity translates to increased shopping, dining and other services, as well as enhanced property values, a greater sense of community, and access to regular exercise. As a result, those town officials have been working enthusiastically with Hendricks County Parks & Recreation on the trail’s improvements.
Town officials from Clayton also welcome eventual connection to the Vandalia Trail, seeing the economic potential in the form of new business development, job creation, and increased commerce for their own community.
An increase in tourism income to Hendricks County can be expected as the Vandalia Trail is improved and connected across the county and across the state.
For 11 years, the western portion of the trail was operated by The Friends of the Vandalia Trail, a group of dedicated volunteers. Hendricks County Parks & Recreation helped maintain the trail for eight years until the spring of 2016, when the parks department officially acquired that section of the trail, establishing it as a county park. The Friends of the Vandalia Trail still serve as advisors, and they continue to volunteer their time to help maintain the trail.
Without the help of The Friends of the Vandalia Trail and other volunteers, these large-scale improvements to the trail would not be possible. For individual and group volunteer opportunities, please contact Hendricks County Parks & Recreation at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (317) 718-6188.