Off the Beaten Path: 7 Trails to Try in East Central Indiana
Find wine, wildflowers, food & retro fun in East Central Indiana.
No doubt, the Cardinal Greenway is a well-loved recreational trail in East Central Indiana, and, stretching 62 miles, it’s also the longest trail in the state. Plus, there are plenty of other shorter trails that are ideal for biking, walking, jogging and horseback riding. But the region also has several fun and unique trails that connect people to art and antiques, wildflowers and wine. There’s even one trail that’s dedicated to a certain famous orange cat. Here are seven unique trails bidding for some attention in East Central Indiana. (Yes, one includes chocolate!)
1. Wildflower Trail
Abundant spring flowers grow wild along this scenic 0.75-mile trail at the Mary Gray Bird Sanctuary in Fayette County. Other highlights along the designated Wildflower Trail include a spring-fed creek wet woods meadow and mature forest. Open year-round, the 700-acre sanctuary has multiple walking trails that wind through it, which also include a prairie trail, wetland trail and tulip poplar trail.
2. Chocolate Trail
Your first order of business: Pick up a complimentary “Chocolate Trail Passport” at the Old National Road Welcome Center, which will earn you complimentary chocolates at each stop along the trail. The Richmond and Wayne County chocolate trail includes a stop at Ullery’s Homemade Ice Cream, where you can double down on chocolate with a scoop of homemade chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge. Then at Abbott’s Candy Shop, chocolate shares the spotlight with soft buttery caramels that are made with an original 1890s recipe.
Proving that enjoying chocolate is a multi-sensory experience, head to Warm Glow Candles in Centerville, where you’ll find chocolate-scented candles. For more chocolate treats, visit Good's Candy Shop in Anderson, Ghyslain's in Union City, Lowery's Candies in Muncie and Sharlette's Fudgery & Candies in Portland.
3. Mural Trail
The Paint Quality Institute honored Richmond as being one of “America’s Prettiest Painted Places.” More than 80 artistic murals can be found throughout Wayne County, which together make up a unique collage that helps tell the area’s history. A mural on North D Street, for instance, recognizes Richmond as being one of many towns that were part of the underground railroad, with the painting depicting slaves following the guide of the north star. Other murals tell stories of jazz legends, train depots and everyday life.
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4. Antique Trails
Ready to shop until you drop? Richmond has antique stores galore. Exploring the antique trails will feel like a treasure hunt, with unique finds from every era. Vintiques has a collection that spans from midcentury modern to farmhouse-style decor. Mockingbird Antiques has a treasure trove of rare books. Other favorites are H & S Antiques & Gifts in Farmland and Corner Store Antiques in Redkey. With a multitude of shops, it’s a good idea to carve out a couple of days for the antique trails here. A guide to the trails can be found here: Trail 1 and Trail 2.
5. Wine Trail
The region has six wineries to explore, each with unique local flavors that give a true taste of the area. Spots to sip and relax through the region include Delaware County's Tonne Winery, whose latest offerings include pairings of DeBrand Chocolates; two destinations in Grant County, Oak Hill Winery and Downing Vineyard & Winery; Belgian Horse Winery in Henry County; Madison County Winery & Vineyard; and the newest on the local wine scene, The Tipsy Glass Winery in Jay County.
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6. Garfield Trail
Fairmount is the hometown of cartoonist Jim Davis, and there’s a Garfield Trail in Grant County to celebrate his most beloved character. You’ll find the grumpy, lasagna-loving, Monday loathing cat in fishing attire at Matthews Town Hall, enjoying ice cream at Ivanhoe’s Restaurant, and with a globe in his paw at Van Buren Public Library. In all, the trail features 14 different fiberglass Garfield statues that are absolutely purrfect for photo ops. In Delaware County, where Davis currently resides, enjoy an indoor trail with locations throughout the city of Muncie.
7. Just Cruisin’ Trail
Wax nostalgic and treat your taste buds along this diner-centric trail. Among the delicious treats on this trail is a tangerine shake at Jimmie’s Dairy Bar (pair it with a sloppy joe!); breaded tenderloin and award-winning fries at Lemon Drop, a bright yellow retro diner; and the secret root beer recipe at Gene’s Root Beer that comes in a frosted mug and pairs nicely with a coney dog. The Indiana Foodways Alliance’s Just Cruisin’ Trail has 15 stops in all.