The Monon Trail Handbook: Tips, Secrets & More

Ready to navigate the city’s longest trail? Allow us to walk you through it.

GOOD TO KNOWEmergency Call Boxes

Phones at six locations along the southern portion of the Monon Trail (3400 Sutherland Ave., 1202 E. 30th St., 1151 E. 28th St., 2019 Cornell Ave., 1720 Alvord St., 1101 E. 13th St.) bring the authorities just as fast as calling 911.
Free Parking
Indy, Carmel, and Westfield offer designated lots; see their respective parks departments’ websites for locations. Unofficially, just about every side street the Monon intersects offers a few spots.
Bike Tire Air
The Bike Line (6520 Cornell Ave., 317-253-2611) in Broad Ripple allows the public free use of the air compressor on the side of its garage.
Grapes, herbs, and even cattails that grow along the trail are fair game for foragers. Andy and Amanda Fritz, who run The Carmel Beet, are planning a series of Monon Plant Walks.
A Garden that Moans
From the Monon, the Nina Mason Pulliam Sensory Path at the Indianapolis Art Center looks like little more than a short, landscaped walk. But infrared sensors hidden among the plants detect passersby and trigger eerie sounds that are hard to locate.
Ruins in the Forest
In the late 19th century, several Monon trains derailed near the White River bridge, north of Broad Ripple, leaving train cars in the woods that were only recently removed. It’s said that a remnant of a limestone column still sitting a few feet from the trail fell in the wreck, and that it was a piece of the old Indiana Statehouse headed out of town after demolition.
History’s Tracks
The Monon Trail’s creators  chose not to cover a piece of the track with a wheel stop at the 38th Street depot building. It’s still visible, preserving the spot where scandalous politico and Ku Klux Klan leader D.C. Stephenson parked his private rail car in the 1920s.
Dollars and Sense
At one point, Conseco wanted its logo stamped onto the trail every quarter of a mile. But the Monon’s visionaries said “no” to advertising and established the trail as a place for mental contemplation as well as exercise.
End of the Line
The 1926 B&O Railroad caboose in the Old Northside Soccer Park next to the trail once graced the entry of Hooters at Union Station. About 10 years ago, the Old Northside Foundation paid to restore it. Plans to turn the caboose into a concession stand fell through.
Union Brewing Company
622 S. Range Line Rd., 317-564-4466
This bike-in microbrewery in Carmel distinguishes itself with cask-conditioned, hand-pulled ales. With cornhole games and minglers spilling out of the open-sided building into the parking lot, the scene feels like a tailgate party on the trail.
Extended Hours
Last fall, the biking community convinced IndyParks to expand the trail hours south of 96th Street beyond the old “dawn ’til dusk” standard. The new hours are 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., though signs haven’t been updated yet. North of 96th Street, the hours remain daylight-only.
146th Street Bridge
Westfield recently completed a 420-foot-long, steel-truss pedestrian bridge over the great river of traffic that is 146th Street. For runners who have always turned around there, it opens up a beautiful 3.1-mile section of the trail that runs all the way to State Road 32.
This article appeared in the June 2013 issue.