As gas prices continue to soar, everyone is feeling pain at the pump. Instead of shedding the family summer vacation or sacrificing their much-needed timeout, savvy travelers are spending their vacations closer to home. The premium on fuel may be sky-high, but the significance of refueling your spirit is invaluable.
One-tank wonders offers ideas from DNR’s Bob Bronson about round-trip adventures that can be reached on a single tank of gas or less, providing cost-conscious trekkers the opportunity to get far enough from home to relax and recharge. Plus, it’s good to know your own state. Follow the edict to “wander Indiana.”
Whether you’ve saved enough pennies for a daytrip, an overnight excursion or an extended getaway, here are several one-tank summer escapes that will help stretch your vacation dollars.
Ride the Rail Trails
This summer don’t just ride. Point your bike toward one of these destinations and explore some of the great rail trail projects across the state. Indiana has increased the miles of rail trail significantly in the past few years. Hundreds of miles have been added and many more are in development. Here are some destination suggestions for rides around the state.
The Monon Trail
The Monon Trail, completed in 2003, is about 10.4 miles long from 10th Street in downtown Indianapolis, north to 96th Street, where it connects with the 5.2-mile Monon Greenway in Carmel. The trail now goes into Westfileld, adding 16 more miles of fun! It also connects with the Indianapolis Cultural Trail at the 10th Street terminus. The Monon intersects with the Fall Creek Greenway near 38th Street, which will take you almost all the way to Fort Benjamin Harrison. You can link with the Canal Towpath and take that trail to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Butler University and on to Broad Ripple.
There are numerous art installations along the way, with many clustered in the Broad Ripple area as the trail runs through the heart of the village. The trail has also spurred bike lanes on 46th, 52nd and 62nd streets, giving people more options to access the trail. The Monon stitches together neighborhoods, recreational facilities, cultural centers and schools. It’s open year round from dawn until dusk, and there’s been some wiggle room created recently. The best access points for the Monon are the Broad Ripple and 96th Street trailheads (where restrooms are located). This is the centerpiece of the Indianapolis greenway system and sees more than a million users each year.
Things to do/see on the Monon Trail:
Central Park, between 111th and 116th streets, a large park with fitness facilities. It includes a water park, a skate park, gymnasium, trails and a fishing area. It also offers a small wetlands area, gardens, an arts studio and café. The Monon Depot, just south of The Carmel Arts and Design District, is a small museum full of interesting artifacts, photographs, and documents from the heyday of the Monon rail line. Admission is free. More information can be found on their website, here.
The State Fairgrounds
The fairgrounds host more than 300 events each year, including the Indianapolis Boat, Sport & Travel Show, the Indiana Flower & Patio Show, the Christmas Gift & Hobby Show and the Indianapolis Home Show. Other weekend offerings throughout the year include anything from flea markets, to dog shows, to public ice skating, to roller derby bouts. For more information visit this website.
Indiana’s longest paved rail-trail, Cardinal Greenway is 62 miles (with a 12 mile gap north of Gaston) and spans five counties in east central Indiana (Grant, Delaware, Henry, Randolph and Wayne). The Cardinal Greenway connects to the White River, adding six more miles of trail along the White River in Muncie. Trail users enjoy biking, running, walking and even horseback riding along the greenway. A popular Ball State University pastime, students frequently inline skate and run along the trail in Muncie.
The trail travels through cities, towns and farm fields. It travels over small creeks, the White River in Muncie and the White Water Gorge in Richmond. One hundred types of wildflowers have been identified along the trail. A nature preserve is also connected to the trail.
In the cities, you will see planned graffiti on a wall in Muncie along the trail. Marion features a splash park by the trail. You’ll travel through a tunnel in Marion and Richmond has a long bridge over the city streets. A veterans park is within a few hundred feet at the end of the trail in Richmond.
Free bicycle loans are available at the Wysor Street Depot in Muncie (700 E. Wysor St.).
Popular restaurants and retailers near the trail include:
• Blue Moon Restaurant, Losantville.
• Mill St. Inn, Gaston.
• Greenway 500 Bike Shop, Muncie.
• Kirk’s Bike Shop, Muncie.
• The Island, Muncie (seasonal business).
For more information go here.
Nickel Plate Trail
This 33.5-mile trail is situated between Howard and Fulton counties. It transitions from wetlands to woodlands, offering a variety of plants and animals to see along the way. The trail is ideal for walking, hiking, running, bicycling, skating or even — for your winter one-tank wonders trip — cross-country skiing. Some points of interest are Scout Bridge, which crosses Little Pipe Creek south of the Peru trailhead. South of Bunker Hill and to the east of the trail are some of the remains of the Union Traction railway, the electric interurban line that was abandoned around 1940.
The trail currently goes through the communities of Cassville, Bennetts Switch, Miami, Bunker Hill, Peru, Denver, Deedsville, Birmingham, Macy and Rochester. Trail organizers say when it’s well cared for the Nickel Plate Trail is one of the nicest-looking trails in the Midwest.
Work up an appetite on the trail and visit one of these restaurants.
• Hagen’s Deli, Denver.
• Deangelo’s Pizza, Denver.
• The Hot Spot, Denver.
• Harvey Hinklemeyer’s, Peru.
• Park Place, Bunker Hill.
For more information visit the trail’s website.
Lost in the serenity of farm country you will find a trail stretching 21 miles through north-central Indiana. The Panhandle Pathway is a hiking/biking trail that stretches from Winamac to Kenneth. Water access points are some of the most popular along the trail. Patrons enjoy Tippecanoe River, Mill Creek, Indian Creek and Crooked Creek. Kids especially like to gather around Crooked Creek, just south of Royal Center. The prairie grass planted in Royal Center is part of the original foliage from the 1700s. Star City features a grain elevator, and once you get north of Winamac, it begins to get very agricultural. Rolling hills, valleys and stone quarries line the trail. Rest areas can be found strategically placed along the trail.
For more information visit this website.
Weave your way through the simple life of Amish Country on a picturesque trail that leads into Goshen and connects to the Maple Heart Trail and the Goshen Greenway. The total length: 30 miles; 17 for Pumpkinvine Trail; 13 for Maple Heart Trail/Goshen Greenway. Along the way, you’ll visit Krider’s World’s Fair Garden in Middlebury, The Quilt Garden Display in Krider’s Garden, an Amish school and farm animals, including horses, cows, llamas, camels (raised for their milk) and sheep. This summer, a popular sight in Goshen is the wildflowers that are in high bloom.
Krider’s World’s Fair Garden is located on Bristol Street just west of the fire station and across the street from the Middlebury Historical Society Museum and adjacent to the Greenway Park. Krider Garden is the crown jewel in the Middlebury Park system. It blends a wide variety of plants, shrubs, trees and waterfalls with area history. Krider Nurseries originally designed the gardens for display at the 1933/34 Chicago World’s Fair. Closely resembling the original design, these gardens have been restored for one-tank wonder travelers to enjoy.
The Quilt Garden Display features more than 100,000 glorious blooms, 19 gigantic gardens and 18 super-sized murals at 27 locations. The Quilt Gardens joins quilting, gardening and art into a one-of-a-kind event. Colorful patchworks of quilt-inspired gardens and quilt-themed murals line the roads that form the trail. Every quilt garden and quilt mural has its own intricate pattern, many are original designs, and each has its own unique story.
B-line Trail, Bloomington
Described by its users as a linear green space, the B-line is steeped in history and community pride. A former rail corridor and switchyard in the 1800s, it was transformed into a trail in the 1990s. People not only enjoy moving along the trail, but participating in the various activities along the 3.1-mile trail that includes plazas, art shows and farmers’ market.
This bicycle friendly community now has three trail systems connected to make 7.4 miles of trail. Users can also access the Clear Creek Trail and the Jackson Creek Trail from the B-line. The Jackson Creek Tail may only be six-tenths of a mile, but it’s very popular among children as it runs past two schools, Jackson Creek Elementary and Childs Elementary. Benches and drinking fountains (for humans and pets) are also located throughout the downtown section of the trail. Access the trail’s website here.
Art on the B-Line Trail
• BEAD (Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District).
• Animal Island.
• Bloomington Banquet sculpture.
• Dancing Spirit sculpture.
• Worlds Apart, Always Connected — Mundos separados, siempre conectado mural.
Pigeon Creek Greenway, Evansville
Not officially a rail/trail greenway, the 6.75-mile Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage winds through the heart of Evansville’s industrial corridor. The 10-foot-wide paved trail showcases the creek and the banks of the Ohio River downtown as it connects neighborhoods and parks, business districts and nature areas.
The trail also serves as a historic walk through the city. The recently restored historic Marchand Bridge, built in 1881, has been renovated into an overlook to the city. It offers a beautiful view of the river with markers that tell the story of the city’s first female businesswoman, Nellie Sweezer, and of the city’s finest hour — the shipyards and factories devoted to manufacturing LSTs landing craft and P47s fighter planes during the World War II effort.
The different corridors:
The Riverfront Corridor is located along Evansville’s downtown from Sunrise Park to Casino Aztar. The 1.5-mile trail goes by the Evansville Museum of Art, History and Science, the Evansville Pagoda, Convention and Visitor Bureau, the Four Freedoms Monument and Dress Plaza. Trailheads are located at Sunrise & Sunset Parks, the Evansville Museum and at the Evansville Pagoda with parking and restrooms available during operating hours. Connecting with the Industrial Corridor, a 2.3-mile trail, is very popular during the lunch hour.
The Middle Levee Corridor was the first trail constructed by the city. The trail was a demonstration of the popularity of trails. The trail starts at the Heidelbach Canoe Launch and follows the Pigeon Creek Levee for 1.7 miles. Parking is available at the Heidelbach Canoe Launch, Garvin Park Trailhead and limited parking at the Animal Control Center near the Uhlhorn Trailhead.
For more information visit the website here.