Unbeknownst to me, Carmel is building a new trail. Luckily it was totally beknownst to my buddy Marty, who took me and the dog for a tour on a simply gorgeous, crisp Christmas Eve morning.
The only problem is that the trail is still way under construction. We ducked under some barriers and lots of yellow tape. I don't think we did anything illegal. Unsafe maybe, but nothing illegal. And worth the risk.
So step around those orange barrels and let's see what my tax dollars are up to.
The Interurban is a stretch that starts off of 116th just west of Westfield/Rangeline and heads south. The trail retraces a former rail line that spurred off of the Monon for local business deliveries. This new section is the usual multi-use asphalt surface, but it is immaculate. And not just "brand new trail" immaculate. I mean every detail is really well done. The path is almost flat, not mounded, which can make running uncomfortable, but with just enough pitch to let water run off. It's lined on either side with an anal-retentive crushed limestone border that is not only perfectly even on both sides and down the entire length, but also dead level with the path, making the path edge a warning-track as opposed to an ankle-snapper. There's also a nice overlook under construction that provides a nice view of Carmel Creek.
After a half mile or so there is an, I don't know, intersection I guess, where the Interurban becomes Prairie Trail as it turns west, and off to the northwest is Carmel Creek trail. This is where the fun starts...
Carmel Creek Trail is a mostly crushed gravel loop that's, are you ready for this... in the woods! I know!
An actual trail, winding between actual trees. And it, too, is fantastic.
The loop is about half a mile, and every inch of it is so well done. Most of the surface is deep but firm crushed stone which is lined, the whole way, with logs. And these logs are nearly identically sized and laid precisely end to end, providing a perfect border while still feeling all naturey.
Occasionally you come onto some decking that either crosses a stream, or carries you over spots that probably get pretty gooey when it rains, or provides a nice scenic view. What you don't get, yet, is railings. So be careful. And also be careful on the decking itself. This morning there were some sneaky splotches of frost in places where the deck was shaded, and that's some slippery going.
One would assume this is Carmel Creek, the trail's namesake.
A little further and you are reminded, abruptly, that this trail isn't exactly open. Not that that stopped us.
Assload of 2x12s awaiting decking.
The trail has a couple variations and shorter cutoffs, and by cutoffs, I mean alternate exits, not bad jean shorts. The intersection of the main trail and one of these cutoffs is implemented with, what else, a round-a-bout. This is after all, Carmel, IN, which Time Magazine hailed as "that place with all of those damn round-a-bouts" (link).
Finishing the loop puts you back at the intersection of the paths. We continued on to Prairie Trail which takes you west to the Monon Center and hooks up with the Monon Trail. Like it's sister path, the Interurban, is well groomed.
It also takes you by some other new construction, this time some new shelters for the park. Now that I see them being built, I realized that it was really kinda weird to have a big city park without any shelters. I'm glad someone else was a little more forward looking than me.
See, shelters... coming soon.
The new trail in the woods and the connecting paths will be a great place to run from the Monon Center, or, lucky me, from my house. It will also be a nice side-trip for the hordes who plod up and down the Monon on the weekends. I just hope they wipe their feet.
Apparently the trail should be good to go by spring. If you venture out on it before then, please be careful, and if you get scolded for ducking under the yellow tape, this conversation never happened.