Trail to link Madison community
via bicycle-walking path
(May 2001) Madison, In When Tom
Pritchard was growing up in Madison, his childhood days
with his friends were often spent hiking up the hill en
route to the Madison State Hospital grounds. Today, Pritchard
still lives in Madison and is spearheading a project to
turn this childhood memory into a recreational trail for
all to enjoy.
& Karen Bump
After five years of planning and gathering
funds, construction on the Heritage Trail is coming together
for a fall opening.
The trail will serve the needs of bikers, hikers, walkers,
runners and anyone else who wants to enjoy the natural
scenery of Madison while exercising. According to Pritchard,
an active bicycle rider, it will also serve as a safer
haven on which to do such activities.
Ive always felt like the areas for riding
bicycles were dangerous because the roads werent
very wide, said Pritchard. This will allow
kids the ability to ride down the hill safely.
He added, though, that the trail will have benefits for
It will connect tourist points as well as industry,
he said. It is really endless where this could all
Pritchard is part of the core group that developed the
idea in 1996. He now is president of Heritage Trail Inc.,
a project committee of Historic Hoosier Hills Inc. Historic
Hoosier Hills is a regional resource, conservation and
development committee based in Versailles, Ind. Pritchard
is being helped on the executive committee by vice president
Karen Bump, a Texas native; secretary Julie Rubio, a Chicago
native; and treasurer Jim Olson, the county engineer.
The committee is receiving consulting help on the trails
design from the Schneider Corp., an Indianapolis engineering
Our common theme in engineering the trail has been
safety, said Bump. She emphasized the importance
of users recognizing the importance of safety and using
Our brochure will give guidelines, she said.
Wed like to stage some events in October that
would reinforce safety and emphasize it.
The biggest thing is teaching the community how
to use it, said Pritchard.
The committee will have a lot of trail to cover, so to
speak, in doing so. The construction process of the Heritage
Trail has been divided into three phases. Phase One has
already begun. Its starting point is on the northwest
grounds of the Madison State Hospital, where it makes
its way down the hill through a wooded area. The trail
will come out at the bottom of the hill at the old Madison
railroad tracks in the western portion of the downtown
The second phase is not yet confirmed, but preliminary
plans call for continuing the construction on the hilltop
past the Rucker Sports Complex and into a portion of Clifty
Falls State Park.
Today, the Hoosier Hills Bike Trail runs along Green Road
into the state park. The Heritage Trail committee has
had many discussions with park director Daryl Skinner
about connecting points of the trail with the park. The
most logical plan would be at the Green Road entrance
to the Hoosier Hills trail, committee members say. Nothing
has been decided, particularly since admission is charged
in summer months to people entering the park. Skinner
noted that permits are available to cyclists at a lower
fee than for those entering by vehicles.
Phase Three would continue the trail from the old railroad
track. From this point, it will veer toward the river
by going under the Main Street bridge and eventually divide
into opposite directions. One side would take users west
toward Rivercrest Marina. The other path would head east
along the riverfront to the area where the new Madison
Area Convention and Visitors Center and Interpretive Center
will be located on First and Vine streets.
Reaching the point of construction has indeed been a long
but successful haul for the Heritage Trail committee.
Approximate cost is estimated at $2 million. Funding has
come from the Build Indiana Fund, Federal Transportation
Enhancement Groups and the Department of Natural Resources
Recreational Trails Program, with additional support from
the Community Foundation of Madison-Jefferson County and
Historic Madison Inc.
Weve made it a point to go above and beyond
what we have to do to get the publics support,
said Bump. A lot of people have been very supportive
of the trail. People want to see this happen.
Indeed, many local groups foresee the trails presence
as beneficial in many ways.
The future location of the Lide White Boys and Girls Club
sits right next to the Rucker Sports Complex. Executive
Director Ray Black Jr. said that the presence of the Heritage
Trail on Madisons hilltop factored into the decision
to move the club to the hilltop.
It will offer downtown members an opportunity to
get from downtown to the hill, he said. He estimated
that more than half of the clubs members ride bikes.
Tourism officials and business owners have also expressed
excitement about the trail.
I think throughout the country people are looking
for places to walk and enjoy nature, said tourism
executive director Linda Lytle. Bicycling has been
such a big tourism draw. We have a lot of people who come
I think its going to be a great thing for
everyone bikers, hikers, joggers, said Sandy
Thurman, a member of the Madison Bicycle Club. It
will provide easy access to ride downtown and then back
up to the hilltop without having to put your life on the
line and compete with the motor traffic.
Elsewhere in the state, similar trails have a proven track
record of benefits for both the community and tourists.
The Porter County Bikeway System in northwest Indiana
has enhanced the recreational scene around the Indiana
Dunes State Park and National Lakeshore.
The trail takes you through most of the towns of
this area, said Kathleen Talenco, public relations
director for the Porter County Convention, Recreation
and Visitors Commission. It has been great in pulling
in tourists, but it has served residents as well. It enables
people not just to go riding but to go riding through
The nine loops of the Porter County Bikeway System connect
parks, schools, country clubs, lakes and downtown districts.
This multi-use trail accommodates not only bicyclists,
but walkers, hikers and skaters as well.
Heritage Trail committee members have witnessed that discovery
among citizens in Jefferson County.
What we have found is that people are amazed with
what a wonderful jewel we have right in the middle of
town, said Bump.
As a city that is coming into a new millennium,
there are many changes taking place, said Pritchard.
This will be an alternate mode of transportation
from downtown to the hilltop.