What's your limit when it comes to hiking? When you say 'hiking', do you merely mean a mile or two, if that? And that would be a perfectly healthy hike, no doubt.

Or are you what I would call a "professional" hiker--someone who will seek out really long trails and make an entire vacation of it? If you are, I applaud you. I love a good walk, too, but I'm not like those who can walk 10 to 20 miles or longer on a regular basis. Now I WOULD ride my bike on a path that long; I rode 13 miles around the city several years ago for a St. Jude event. It was a blast.

Now, I don't know if all hiking trails are set up to accommodate cyclists, and if I had a mountain bike, I'd try it. That's usually the best equipment for such an endeavor, and you don't even need a mountain. And you won't get one once Indiana's longest recreational trail is completed.

It's going to be in southern Indiana where there are lots of trees but no mountains to speak of. But there will be terrain on the Monon South Trail which will stretch some 62.3 miles, span five Indiana counties, and eight communities.

The project, known as the CSX Rails & Trails Conversion, began five years ago and will soon come to fruition.

It was in 1847 when construction of a private railroad was authorized, and soon after, Governor James Whitcomb announced the charter of the New Albany and Salem Railroad, later known as the Monon Railroad.


Seven years later 1854, it  would stretch 292.5 miles all the way to Michigan City IN.

The Monon South Trail is a part of Indiana's Next Level Trails initiative which, itself, falls within Governor Eric Holcomb's Next Level Connections initiative. It's an enormous infusion of funding, and that means there is more to come.

Next Level Trails has awarded nearly $120 million in grants to 73 projects across the state. To date, 15 projects are complete totaling 50 miles of new trail open to the public. As part of his 2023 Next Level Agenda, the governor has proposed an additional $50 million in the state budget to be directed to Next Level Trails.

You can monitor progress of the project at in.gov/dnr/state-parks/recreation/grants/next-level-trails.

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