Gov. Holcomb announces $65 million in trails grants for communities across Indiana including Panhandle Pathway

On April 20, 2022, Gov. Eric J. Holcomb and Indiana Department of Natural Resources Director Dan Bortner announced 38 communities and non-profit organizations will receive a combined $65 million for 77 miles of new trail development as a part of the third round of the Next Level Trails program. With matching funds from applicants, this round is expected to generate total investment of more than $102 million.

“Trails connect communities together in such a personal way and are perfect pathways to good mental and physical well-being,” Gov. Holcomb said. “These continued quality-of-life investments will reap generational economic and tourism development dividends and further showcase Indiana’s incredible outdoor experiences.” 

A $150 million grant program, Next Level Trails is the largest infusion of trails funding in state history. In rounds one and two, a total of $55 million was awarded to 35 communities. To date, $120 million has been awarded to build 190 miles of trails throughout Indiana. Ninety-four percent of Hoosiers live within five miles of a trail. 

For example, three sections of the Nickel Plate Trail in Indianapolis, Fishers, and Noblesville were selected, as well as smaller local projects in Jasper, Middlebury, Shelbyville, and Huntington.

“The DNR listens to the recreational and outdoor needs of Hoosiers,” Bortner said. “We are excited to expand our partnerships with local governments and non-profits to bring these important connections and amenities to communities across Indiana.”

The grants awarded in the third round include 17 regional projects and 21 local projects. The list of awards, project descriptions, and a map are posted at


Trail Name: Panhandle Pathway-Park to Park
Applicant: Friends of the Panhandle Pathway
Counties: Cass, Pulaski
Grant Amount: $2,503,809
Length: 2.33 miles
Description: Will extend the Panhandle Pathway on both ends of the current trail. The 0.83-mile southern extension will connect the current terminus to France Park in Cass County. The 1.50-mile northern extension will connect the trail to the northern reaches of the Town of Winamac, helping the trail inch closer to the park-to-park goal. Once completed, these extensions will bring the total mileage of the Panhandle Pathway to 24.30 miles.

The third-round grant recipients are contributing $37.4 million in matching value, resulting in a $102.4 million total investment in trails. The program requires a minimum 20 percent project match, which can include monetary contributions, land value, and in-kind donations of materials and labor.

Next Level Trails is part of Gov. Holcomb’s $1 billion Next Level Connections infrastructure program, which accelerates the completion of major highway projects, expands access to rural broadband services, and pursues the expansion of rail projects in northwest Indiana. The initial program received funds totaling $90 million; $60 million more was appropriated in the current biennial budget to bring the Next Level Trails investment to $150 million. 

Progress on all Next Level Trails projects can be found here.

Next Level Trails objectives and more information in the grants program is at

SOURCE: News release from Indiana Department of Natural Resources