As cooler autumn weather arrives in central Indiana, bicycle touring is on the minds of many Hoosier cyclists. There’s still time to get in some great rides before winter makes itself felt. One such ride can be found less than an hour north of Indianapolis on the Panhandle Pathway rail trail.
The Panhandle Pathway is one ride that no Indianapolis bicycle tourist should miss. This twenty-one mile rail trail starts just west of Logansport in Cass County and winds its way northwest to the quaint town of Winamac in Pulaski County. Along the way, cyclists are treated to a pleasant, if not dramatic, countryside that includes forests, farm fields, and a cool bridge over the Tippecanoe River.
Like most rail trail routes, the Panhandle Pathway is straight, flat and fast. Traffic is typically light, both on the trail and the rural roads that cross it every mile or so. If pedaling hard, the full forty-two mile round trip will take approximately three hours. The surface is smooth, though riders should watch for debris such as leaves and acorns from the many trees that line the route. They don’t pose much of a risk, except when wet.
There are four trailheads along the Panhandle Pathway. The Kenneth trailhead is closest to Indianapolis and located near the trail’s southern end. Heading north, you can also park and ride in Royal Center and Star City. The Winamac trailhead is located approximately one mile south of the town square at the north end of the trail. If you have time, be sure to follow on street bike lanes and check out this delightful town.
If you plan to ride the whole route, be sure to check the weather before heading out. Most people want the wind at their back for the second half of the ride. This is particularly true in this time of year, when north winds can be chilly.