The Cardinal Greenway (TGC) is a multi-use recreational system combining a rail trail and an on-street route that together cross 62 miles (100 km) and five counties — in east central Indiana. Formerly a CSX rail right of way, the system runs from Richmond to Marion and as of 2018 is Indiana's longest rail trail project.
Dedicated to pedestrian, bicycle and equestrian users, the greenway crosses nine bridges and passes the historic Wysor Street Depot — the latter which hosts "Cardinal Greenway, Inc., the trail organization as well as a trail-learning and (free) bike rental center. Portions follow the White, Whitewater and Mississinewa Rivers. Marked in half-mile increments, the TGC has more than 20 trail heads, most with restrooms, parking areas, and interpretive markers. The system hosts annual events including the National Trails Day (June/Running), Cardinal Greenways Bike Fest (July/biking), Walk Indiana (September/walking), and BikeTOURberfest (October/bicycle).
The Cardinal Greenway is part of the Northern Route of the American Discovery Trail. and connects to the White River Greenway near downtown Muncie. A current expansion is underway to construct the White River Greenway trail in downtown Muncie. In Richmond, the trail connects to the Whitewater Gorge Trail and Gennett Walk of Fame in the Whitewater Gorge Park.
Taking its name from the last passenger train in regular service on the (Chicago-Cincinnati-Washington) route, the Cardinal, The greenway was designated a National Recreation Trail in June 2003 and in 2018 was named to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's "Rail Trail Hall of Fame."
In 1993, volunteers organized an investigative meeting to study purchasing an abandoned rail line for a rails-to-trails conversion project. Removal of the steel rails began in late 1992. Work started in Marion and was completed from there through Richmond by June 1993. Cardinal Greenway, Inc., a not-for-profit, was formed, purchasing 60 miles (97 km) of the former railroad corridor from CSX Corporation in that same year (1993). In 1996 a Master Plan was completed and final drawings were submitted to INDOT.
Groundbreaking took place in September 1997, marking the start of Phase 1, a 10-mile (16 km) Muncie section from the Wysor Street Depot to County Road 534 East. The 8-mile (13 km) Jonesboro-Marion section and the 2.5-mile (4.0 km) Richmond section were constructed sometime before 2003. The 10-mile (16 km) Muncie-Gaston section was constructed around 2003.
In 2008 the state governor announced grants which include work on the Richmond-to-Losantville section including the improvement of six bridges and the Sweetser Switch Trail Connector, linking the two trails along a defunct railroad corridor.
Cardinal Greenways is a private, not-for-profit organization that encompasses the Cardinal Greenway, White River Greenway, Historic Wysor Street Depot and Cardinal Equestrian Trail.
The Cardinal Greenway is the longest rail-trail in Indiana and spans 62 miles from Marion through Muncie to Richmond in East Central Indiana.
The trail is asphalt paved the entire way.
The trail begins with a 2.5 miles (4.0 km) section on the north side of Richmond. This is near the Whitewater River.
This is the curviest segment of the former railroad corridor.
The trail continues out of Muncie to Gaston. It is about 10 miles (16 km) from the depot to the trailhead in Gaston.
An 11.3-mile (18.2 km) section of the former rail corridor, going from Gaston to Jonesboro and running through Fowlerton, is owned by private land owners. Cardinal Greenways, Inc. states that a route "will be chosen using public roads to connect the two sections of Cardinal Greenway." IndianaTrails.org states that "[t]he county road route can be followed using Dan Henry-style pavement markers."
The trail resumes in Jonesboro at East 10th Street. From there it travels along the Mississinewa River until it crosses US-35/IN-22. By East 4th Street in Jonesboro, there is a pedestrian bridge over the Mississinewa to the Eugene "Beaner" Linn Park, a 90-acre (360,000 m2) park in Gas City.