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On June 26, NRHT, Inc officially opened the first phase of the Vandalia Trail between Amo and Coatesville in southwestern Hendricks County. This is the first section of trail created as a result of the cross-state NRHT initiative. This 1.25-mile rustic trail for hiking and horseback riding extends from Pearl Street in Amo west about half way to Coatesville.
The first 0.25 miles is an open-aired, well-manicured section in town. The next mile passes through mature forest and varying terrain ending on the elevated railbed at the trestle 30 feet above Crittenden Creek. A safety fence is in place to prevent access to the trestle until it is upgraded for trail use.
Due to the current rustic nature of this trail, it is important to note that there are no public restrooms, water, or electricity available. There are a couple of nearby businesses in Amo, though, where food, drink, and some supplies can be purchased. Informal parking is available on the gravel lot in front of the restored Interurban Depot on Pearl Street or a block west behind the small white building next to the trail on Railroad Street.
For now, hikers and horseback riders share the trail on the main railroad bed. Work has started, though, to create a separate trail for horseback riders 30-60 feet south of the initial trail. At the edge of town, it begins with a 600 foot long, well-manicured section then enters the forest and will follow the natural terrain for its full length. Other future phases will involve preparing the trestle over Crittenden Creek for hiking and bicycling, preparing the creek bed for an equestrian crossing, clearing both trails for the remainder of the 3.5 miles to and through Coatesville, and upgrading the railroad bed with a smooth surface for bicycling.
So far, volunteer work has been the primary means of progress. Grants will also be requested from various local, state, and national sources to help pay for the more significant construction and on-going maintenance, but volunteers will continue to be very important in the eventual success of this local project. Most of the features of this 3.5-mile trail could be in place in 3-4 years if sufficient financial and volunteer support can be obtained.
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