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Bike Trail: Indiana's Cardinal Greenway

I am an avid hiker and I like sharing some of the places I've hiked (or biked) with others. I also offer tips for beginners.


Discover the Cardinal Greenway

The Cardinal Greenway is one of the longest single bike trails 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 its 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 just northwest of Marion and Richmond, Indiana; one section north of Gaston, has trail users follow a route on roads up to Gas City where they can pick up the final northern leg of the trail up to and beyond Marion. It's more than a 61-mile distance one way.

Muncie (population 65,000+) lies near the midpoint as the trail runs its northwest to southeast course.


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 farmland 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 its 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 countryside 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 Greenway. The photo of the old railway bridges crossing the river I have below is 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. Restaurants such as Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Texas Roadhouse, and many more are all within a few hundred feet of the trail.

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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, 61 miles can be quite a distance. Don't over ride your abilities. Remember that however far you ride, you have to ride that same distance to get back.

Cruise Part of the Cardinal Greenway

© 2009 Ruth Coffee

Let Us Know You Stopped By!

KEITH DRURY on July 06, 2017:

NOTE: To update the info above, the Cardinal Greenway is now more than 60 miles long. Starting in Richmond then north through Muncie to Gaston. From Gaston there is a quiet back-road connector to Jonesboro, thence through Marion, Sweetser, to Converse. (If you want an even longer trek you only have 12 miles to the west by back roads (parallel Rt 18 1 mile to south) to connect to the Nickle Plate Trail which continues north another 40 miles through Peru to Rochester--All Rails To Trails except a short 2 mile connector in Peru.

KateHonebrink on May 25, 2012:

What a great-looking trail! I'm inspired by your article! Congratulations on being featured on the 50 States monsterboard!

ohcaroline on May 07, 2012:

I would like to cruise this trail. What a great lens.

bikerministry on June 15, 2011:

I'm looking at bicycles, and looking for trails. This is a super lens, thanks.

Best PriceGuru on October 30, 2010:

Nice lens!

anonymous on September 13, 2010:

@anonymous: I'm adding this lens to my Krispy"s Return list, I like it!!!

Have a great week! :)

anonymous on September 13, 2010:

What a great place to go biking along the trails, would love to get my daily exercise on a bike here. Your lenses are always refreshing to see, and informative. Adding this to the list for Krisy's Return.

Wednesday-Elf from Savannah, Georgia on May 16, 2010:

My son loves bike trips and this Cardinal Greenway trail sounds like an interesting one. Nice pictures.

Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on May 04, 2010:

Great lens - I had no idea that this trail existed! Definitely going to check it out soon. Blessed by a squidangel

anonymous on September 11, 2009:

Rode the entire route round trip last Saturday (54 Miles). It was a fantastic ride! Can't wait till the Losantville to Economy leg is opened.

anonymous on June 24, 2009:

Nice pics and good info - I plan to ride the trail this weeked and wanted a little info.

MacPharlain on June 11, 2009:

Rail trails are great. Thanks for the info and tour of this one.

Tony Payne from Southampton, UK on June 07, 2009:

Very nice, I love rural Indiana. 5*****

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