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Southwestway Figure 8

Intermediate
 4.2 (26) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A mix of new quality MTB trails and older trails.


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Map Key

3.7

Miles

5.9

KM

85%

Singletrack

755' 230 m

High

656' 200 m

Low

232' 71 m

Up

232' 71 m

Down

2%

Avg Grade (1°)

9%

Max Grade (5°)

Dogs Leashed

E-Bikes Not Allowed

Many trails here are shared between bikers, hikers, and horses. Bikes yield to all other trail users. Especially take care around horses. Talk to the rider for the best way to proceed. Announce your presence WELL in advance. If unsure, dismount and pass the horse on the downhill side of the trail.

Bikes are prohibited in the floodplain east of the levee trail.

Overview

This trail system is undergoing a major overhaul. New trails are being built and many old trails are being closed. Temporary signs continue to be removed by parties unknown, so wayfinding can be tricky. Stick to this ride and you'll do fine. As the new trail system becomes more developed and finalized in the coming year or two, this guide will be expanded with more details, and the underlying trails will be added.

This trail is a great place to take beginners and kids. The southern loop is all shared use, but grades are low, sight lines are wide, and there are no technical features. Introduce them here.

All trails have two-way traffic, so be prepared for oncoming trail users.

The northern loop begins with the Lenape Trail, which is a stretch of singletrack where horses are prohibited. It is narrow and has some fairly technical sections with optional lines for the more difficult spots. There are picnic tables tucked in the woods in a couple of spots that are ideal for a picnic lunch or rest stop.

Need to Know

The trail system at this park is undergoing major redevelopment as part of a RTP grant awarded to HMBA. You'll see many unsigned intersections. Some prohibit bikes and some permit them (and some of the ones that permit them will be closed in favor of new routes), so it is best to avoid exploring them unless you meet up with a local who knows these trails.

Description

Begin with the multiuse trail at the southwest corner of the parking lot. This loop is just over a mile long and serves as a good warmup ride, and a great introduction for beginners and kids. Expect to see small kids here on nice weekends. Horses are also permitted, so while it may be tempting to hammer on the smooth, wide trails, control your speed to avoid crashes with other trail users.

As you are finishing the loop, you'll reach an intersection with the Lenape Trail that is marked by a boulder in the middle of the intersection. Head left to finish the loop (or repeat it) and turn right to head down the Lenape Trail. The Lenape meets up with a wide gravel trail (that also intersects with the parking lot) and heads downhill before making a left and returning to a singletrack trail.

It weaves in an out of gullies with the occasional technical spots and takes on a very flowy character with short climbs and downhills that transition well. Lenape ends by dumping you out onto the levee where three trails intersect. The trail to the left is hike and horse only and leads into the floodplain where bikes are prohibited. The trail to the right is a wide gravel path that runs along the top of the levee (and is a multiuse trail with bikes, hikers, and horses).

You leave the levee trail by making a hard right turn along a ridge. There is an optional elevated skinny that's been repurposed from a downed tree as an optional line. Follow this stretch of singletrack until it reaches a wide path that crosses a powerline right-of-way and climbs steeply uphill. This section of path returns you directly to the parking lot, but for a little more singletrack, make a left just before you reach the lot. When you reach the intersection with the boulder, keep right and return to the parking lot.

Repeat this ride, or ride it backwards on your next loop. There are more trails to come so soon you'll be able to expand on this ride.

History & Background

In 2002, Southwestway Park became the second largest park in the IndyParks system.

The park contains a number of prehistoric sites. The Delaware Rangers mistakenly destroyed a Delaware village during the War of 1812 as retaliation for the Scott County Pigeon Roost Massacre.

More recently, the area was settled by Quakers and used for farms and pastures until it was acquired for use as a regional park in 1972. The area specifically around Mann Hill was used extensively for off-road vehicle recreation until acquisition for parkland.

Mann Hill itself is a glacial kame, which is a hill or mound of outwash deposited on or at the edge of a glacier.

The park also contains a graminoid fen as part of its complex of wetlands. It has mineral-rich alkaline water flowing to the surface, which supports an early successional plant community dominated by tussock sedge and also containing swamp aster, pink turtlehead, boneset, cowband, lizard's tail, and swamp goldenrod.

Contacts

Shared By:

Nate Hawkins with improvements by Charles Christensen Phillips

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 26 votes

#586

Overall
  4.2 from 26 votes
5 Star
35%
4 Star
54%
3 Star
12%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#7

in Indiana

#586

Overall
186 Views Last Month
22,454 Since Jul 29, 2013
Intermediate

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Photos

#shred
Apr 20, 2018 near Southport, IN
Rockgarden entrance on the Powerline Downhill trail.
Aug 22, 2019 near Southport, IN
On Levee at Southwestway Park in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Jan 27, 2016 near Southport, IN
Entrance to the a nice descending rock garden!
Jun 24, 2017 near Southport, IN
Whipping it on the tabletops
Dec 22, 2018 near Southport, IN
Technical option
Jul 29, 2013 near Southport, IN

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
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Add Your Check-In

Check-Ins

Apr 1, 2021
John Beeson
Good trail overview. 12.8mi — 60h 00m
Jul 9, 2020
Chris Wheeler
Jun 25, 2020
Chris Wheeler
Jun 12, 2019
Luke Danhof
Jun 4, 2019
Luke Danhof
May 27, 2019
kelley Wagner
Apr 30, 2019
Charles Christensen Phillips
11.1mi — 1h 24m
Apr 24, 2019
Charles Christensen Phillips
Very fun first time at Southwestway. 7.8mi — 1h 02m