Indiana trails can lead Hoosiers past familiar urban landmarks, through bucolic country scenery, over rivers, under highways — and even, with a little imagination, to Neptune.
And stretches of trails designed for walking, hiking, biking, motor-crossing and horseback riding are increasingly within reach of more Hoosiers.
As winter gives way to spring, the demand is up for such spaces and so is the supply, said Steve Morris, director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources’ division of outdoor recreation. Since 2006, Morris said, trail miles in Indiana have more than doubled to about 3,200, including towns, cities, counties, state property and private trails open to the public.
And the state has about reached a goal set in 2009 to put most Hoosiers within 7.5 miles of a trail. Part of the motivation was to provide a basic quality-of-life amenity, but also to offer a public health option to counter the state’s obesity rate. Last year, a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report put Indiana in 39th place, with an obesity rate of 31.6 percent compared to the national average of 28.9 percent. That’s up from 2002, when 24.1 percent of the state’s citizens were considered obese.
The DNR has reset that goal: By 2016, it wants Hoosiers to have a trail within 5 miles of where they live, The Indianapolis Star reported.
In Hoosier communities small and large, trails across the state are growing longer and more inviting as local officials and private organizations work to meet the demand.
Locally, the Ohio River Greenway is part of that pedestrian and bicycle pathway growth.
Usage of the Ohio River Greenway continues to grow as more connections along the bicycle and pedestrian path are opened, Project Coordinator Shauna Graf said.
"I can definitely say that having 3.5 miles of trail gets people out there and using it," she said.