My husband loves to ride his bike, and I can often be talked into going with him, if he slows the pace to accommodate me! Until recently, a bike path was one of the few things Amish Indiana lacked. But no longer.
Piece by piece, a trail is being put together that will stretch 16 miles from Shipshewana at the east end, to Goshen at the west end. From Goshen riders can hook up with Elkhart via the MapleHart Trail. Most phases are done, and two more segments in Middlebury are being completed this spring. All in all, a beautiful ride through Amish Indiana.
Some segments of the trail east of Middlebury towards Goshen are still not completely off-road, and bikers must ride on the roads for a mile or two. My Amish friends tell me that a few of the local farmers have dug their heels in about having a bike trail cut through their land. I hope they come around eventually.
The Shipshewana-to-Middlebury stretch, seven miles long, was mostly completed last fall, and we were happy to try it out. It starts out at the west edge of Shipshewana, and runs parallel to State Route 20 towards Middlebury. It is a beautiful trail, as you can see.
We will never stop riding the country roads in Amish Indiana—they have a beautiful charm all their own—but this is a very nice alternative, with more safety than a regular two-lane country road, and none of the horse manure issues of a two-lane road with an Amish buggy lane on each side of it!
The trail has been a boon for the local Amish population, who can ride their bikes (or walk) in a safer environment than a country road provides. One of our Amish friends is in his eighties, but he regularly rode the trail from Shipshewana to Middlebury last fall, where he would treat himself at the Middlebury Dairy Queen before heading home to Shipshewana.
Spring is fast approaching here in the Midwest, and we are already making plans to put the bike rack back on our Jeep, air up the tires on the bicycles, find our helmets and water bottles, and head east to spend the weekend in Shipshewana and ride the Pumpkinvine Trail.
Here is a link to their website: www.pumpkinvine.org