$2.6 million grant forges path for Hanover-Madison connecting trail

Madison, Ind., downtown looking west toward Hanover

A $2.16 million grant through Indiana’s Next Level Trails program will pave the way for Hanover College and a group of community partners to establish the first phase of a multi-use trail that would, ultimately, link campus to nearby Madison, Ind.

Announced April 20 by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb ’90, the grant will fund the first segment of the proposed Hanover-Madison Connector Trail (HMCT) trail. This five-mile section will provide a pedestrian- and bike-friendly link between Madison’s historic downtown and Clifty Falls State Park. Once completed, this path will create more than 12 miles of locally accessible trails.

Two students riding bicycles on Hanover's campus

HMCT’s first phase will stretch from Second Street in downtown Madison along the current Heritage Trail, cross Clifty Creek and continue west to meet Clifty Hollow Road/Indiana Highway 56. The trail will run parallel to Indiana Highway 56 to the Clifty Falls State Park’s south entrance.

The Hanover-Madison Connector Trail and successful grant is the result of a partnership between Hanover College, Indiana-Kentucky Electric Corp. (IKEC), Clifty Falls State Park, Heritage Trail Conservancy, City of Madison and Town of Hanover. Members of the partnership control more than 90 percent of the right-of-way for the proposed trail, which aids the processes for the completion of the project.

Funding for the Hanover-Madison Connector Trail is a portion of Next Level Trails’ initiative to make Indiana one of the most trail-friendly states in the U.S. Launched in 2018, the program has partnered with local governments and non-profit organizations to develop more than 190 miles of trails in 49 counties. This effort includes support for 73 projects (41 regional and 32 local) with a total investment of more than $191 million.

The Community Foundation of Madison-Jefferson County provided seed money for the local partnership’s Next Level Trails application. The foundation awarded a $28,000 grant for a study to provide a preliminary route map, budget and details necessary for the state grant application.

Future stages of the Hanover-Madison Connector Trail would eventually overlap and extend two national trails (American Discovery Trail and Adventure Cycling Route). A second phase would extend from Clifty Falls State Park’s south entrance along the northern boundary of IKEC’s property to Hanover College property. This route would link with South River Bottom Road at the base of Hanover Beach Hill Road, adjacent to Hanover’s campus, and provide hikers and cyclists more than four additional miles of pavement.

Additionally, this future extension would move the region closer to achieving a scenic greenway linking Jefferson County, Ind., to Charlestown State Park, existing trails in southern Indiana and extensive trail networks in the Louisville (Ky.) metropolitan area.

Construction for the Hanover-Madison Connector Trail is expected to begin spring 2023.