My Indiana Bike Overnight Trip on the Nickel Plate Trail and the Panhandle Pathway

I rode my recumbent bicycle and connected two great trails in Indiana, the Nickel Plate Trail and the Panhandle Pathway.

Bicycle Adventurers: Just me, Mark Wollenberg, on this solo ride

When: June 2017

Accommodations: a motel near Peru, Indiana

Distance: 120 miles over the two days

Adventure bonus: If you love to stay away from busy roads, this route is half on relaxing paved trails and half on back roads.

Day One

The Nickel Plate Trail and the Panhandle Pathway are two nice trails in Indiana that parallel one another, and I decided to connect them using back roads for a great overnight ride. A perfect cool-weather weekend offered the opportunity. 

I loaded my recumbent bike on the car and drove to Winamac, Indiana, the northern end of the Panhandle Pathway rail trail. I set off heading east towards Rochester and avoided state highways in favor of paved county roads because of the traffic. After about 30 miles, I arrived in Rochester. You’ll find plenty of places to stop and refuel the body there. I had packed a lunch, so found a nice, shady spot to relax. 

I then hopped on the north end of the Nickel Plate rail trail to head south toward Peru. This is a very well maintained trail with very little traffic. Denver is a small town with services along the way, and from there, it’s an easy ride to Peru. 

I stayed at an inexpensive hotel about three miles east of Peru, a Knights Inn. It was a great place for one night. The restaurant onsite was closed, so I pedaled back into town for dinner and picked up supplies for a breakfast snack.

Day Two

The next morning, I headed west on back roads toward Logansport. The roads were mostly along the Wabash River — very pretty. In Logansport, I stopped at the Bullshippers Cafe. They have cattle stockyards right next to the restaurant. 

I headed west along the river for another 10 miles where I crossed the river at Georgetown. Then I rode east and north to get on the south end of the Panhandle Pathway trail. This is also a very well maintained trail, though not quite as scenic as the Nickel Plate Trail. I was very thankful for a line of tress on my left that mostly blocked a strong westerly breeze. 

I stayed on the trail the entire distance back to Winamac. This was a great two-day trip. There are no hills on these trails and just gentle hills on the back roads. If you enjoy riding through cornfields, with a few small towns along the way, this is a great ride.

Your favorite local bike shop? Rotten Robbie’s, Crawfordsville, Indiana

Bike overnight tips and tricks? I packed very light: just clothes for the evening, toiletries, and a few snacks.

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HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your own bike overnight adventure!

2 responses so far ↓

Austin Prater - Mar 20, 2018 at 8:12 PM

Every time I come back to the area to visit my parents, I go on the Nickel Plate trail because of the good conditions and it being just a 7 mile back roads ride to catch it just outside of Rochester. I thoroughly enjoyed the write up and may have to try out the entirety of your loop when I visit again.

For anyone visiting the area for this, there are multiple wonderful places in downtown Rochester to eat, and I highly recommend DiAngelo's Pizzeria in Denver, IN. Food and desserts that hit the spot, as well as wonderful people and frequent bikers during the summer.

<a>Addy Brown</a> - May 19, 2018 at 7:27 AM

We rode our tandem with another couple on singles today from Kokomo to Rochester and back. What a great experience! This is an outstanding trail with lots to offer in terms of scenery, solitude, very good pavement, and plenty of open space.

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