Sugar Creek Trail
Crawfordsville , Indiana lies some 40 miles west of Indianapolis via Interstate 74. In addition, it is the Montgomery County seat; is often in the top-100 American small towns; is home to Wabash College, a men’s liberal arts institution; was where writer Lew Wallace lived (author of Ben-Hur); and it has a reputation for its marine, fossil-bearing rocks that are found in museums world-wide. Now, it also hosts the Sugar Creek Trail—a 4½-mile hiking and biking surface that partly employs an ex-Big Four rail corridor.
The trail itself takes a bit of navigation, and may be reached from the back of the Crawfordsville High School . A small sign marks the trail entry from the school grounds, though at this beginning trailhead there is a long steep stair down which one must transport a bike. At this point, the flat path follows a woodsy track—be careful in the fall, as the trail is often hidden under the colorful but sometimes slippery leaves.
After about a mile, the trail climbs uphill to a short, urban gap. Turn left and follow the sidewalk or road roughly a quarter of a mile to the stoplight. To get to the trail continuation, keep walking in a straight line, and the Sugar Creek Trail picks up on the other side of the intersection, to the left again, paralleling the road, but separate from it, in this area. Care is needed for the highway crossings, which are marked for trail-users and for the road-users.
Near the animal shelter, there is another gap. Signs will tell you here that you can choose to take an over-the-road route, or you can use the much quicker railroad route to get to the rest of the trail. To use the rail route (no longer used by trains!), climb the short, steep hill to the tracks ahead of you, take a left, and in a few minutes you will find the trail again—a brief stretch of gravel, then the pavement returns. It is a pleasant walk or bike, past the sportsmen’s club lake, and on to the broad Sugar Creek Nucor Bridge where the current trail ends.
To those wanting to stretch out their excursions, as mentioned, the Crawfordsville area has notable sites. Places to visit include:
~ The General Lew Wallace Study and Museum ~ Henry Lane Antebellum Mansion
~ Speed Cabin, which was part of the Underground Railroad
~ The interactive Carnegie Museum
~ Linden Railroad Museum , featuring Monon and Nickel Plate memorabilia
~ Mid-Town Museum of Native Culture
~ The Old Jail Museum , an operating rotary-type jail built in 1882.
Crawfordsville also offers yearly special events: the Strawberry Festival, Juried Arts Exhibit, Sugar Creek Canoe and Kayak race, and the Sugar Creek Trail Thanksgiving Day Pie Run which awards pies as prizes in addition to raising money for the Sugar Creek Trail.