A Cyclists’ Guide To Biking In Indiana

Cycling is serious business in Indiana.

There are three designated bike routes that traverse the entire state for a total of 610 miles.

As well as many more trails, including old rail beds, areas in state parks, and Indiana cities are becoming more bike-friendly.

Basically, it’s a great place to be on two wheels, no matter which part of the state you’re in.

Indiana Bike Trails – Cities 

Bike Trails in Indianapolis

Indianapolis is well-connected with bike trails and lanes.

Several designated trails are interconnected, so you can get almost anywhere in the city by bike.

Many bike paths run along Indianapolis city streets, while multiple others follow old rail lines through both urban and forested areas.

Indianapolis Cultural Trail

The Indianapolis Cultural Trail is an eight-mile trail system connecting six cultural areas of the city.

Along the way, there are more than 200 restaurants and 50 or so sights to see.

It runs entirely on urban streets.

Monon Rail Trail

The Monon Rail Trail connects to the Indianapolis Cultural Trail and adds more unique neighborhoods along the city streets.

From there, the 26-miles trail goes through forested areas and crosses the Little Calumet River on the way to Sheridan, passing through other small towns along the way.

Indy Canal Walk

The Canal Walk is a 3-mile loop along the old central canal in Indianapolis, last used in the 1800s.

Shared with pedestrians, the path provides lovely views of the city and passes into White River State Park – an inner-city park adjacent to the Indianapolis Zoo.

White River Wapahani Trail

White River Wapahani Trail also provides access to White River State Park and the zoo.

This seven-mile trail connects to the Central Canal Towpath and Fall Creek Trail, just two of multiple other bike trails and paths within the city limits.

Check out the full bike route map on Downtown Indy’s official website.

Fort Wayne Bike Trails 

Fort Wayne has 120 miles of trails inside the city, and they aren’t finished yet.

Trails run along rivers, various greenways, forested areas, and on some city streets.

Many of these trails are connected.

The City of Fort Wayne’s Parks & Recreation Department provides maps of the trail system, while the Visitor’s Bureau offers itineraries if you’re not quite sure where to start.

Rivergreenway

The Rivergreenway is a very large green area along three rivers through the city.

Together, they create 25 miles of trail from Fort Wayne into New Haven.

The greenway offers scenic views of many parts of the city and connects 15 different city parks.

Aboite Trails

If you’re looking for a workout, the Aboite Trails in Fort Wayne are there to provide.

The trails lie in the Southwest of the city and encompass multiple hills on the way to Indian Trails Park.

Towpath Trail

Fort Wayne’s Towpath Trail follows the old route of the Wabash and Erie Canal.

The trail runs 5.5 miles, connecting with Rockhill Park and passing Eagle Marsh Nature Preserve along the way.

Franke Park Trails

Mountain bikers who want to stay in the city limits will find a lot to like at Franke Park.

The park boasts 10 miles of singletrack dirt trails ranging from easy to moderate.

It’s not exactly climbing a mountain, but you can get their quick from Downtown and the riding is pretty good for a city park.

Bloomington, IN Bike Trails 

Bloomington was the first city in Indiana to be recognized as a Bicycle Friendly Community, and they’ve been paving the way for cyclists ever since. 

Along with converting many abandoned rail lines into multi-use recreational paths, the city has a vast network of bike lanes and trails for cyclists, as well as the state’s first mountain bike park.

With more than 200 bike-friendly trails in total, it’s basically just a great small city for bicyclers to live in or explore.

B-Line Trail  

The B-line trail in Bloomington is a multi-use old rail trail that runs just over three miles through the heart of Downtown.

It’s well-marked, goes past numerous Downtown sites, including City Hall, and has fitness stations along the way if you need to get your workout on.

There are a few streets that cross the B-Line, so you may have to stop on occasion, but these streets are also well-marked as well, ensuring safety for bikers and pedestrians alike.

The trail connects with Bloomington Rail Trail at its southern end.

Bloomington Rail Trail

If you prefer a little less pavement with your bicycle trails, the Bloomington Rail Trail south of the city might be more up your alley.

Though it runs only two miles, the Rail Trail gives you a little gravel to play on and rolls through some lovely forested scenery.

The trail connects with Clear Creek Trail at its southern end.

Clear Creek Trail

Clear Creek Trail is a 2.5-mile trail that wraps around the southwestern edge of the city.

It’s paved, like most Bloomington bike trails, and multi-use.

But if you don’t mind a little traffic, you’ll be rewarded with farm animal encounters and a bounty of wildflowers come spring.

There’s not much work to be done here. It’s just a nice, gentle ride.

At the north end, you can connect with the Tapp Road recreational path to get you headed back toward town.

Indianapolis Bike Rental 

Bike Rental Downtown Indianapolis 

If you need to rent a bike in Downtown Indianapolis, the Indiana Pacers Bikeshare program provides basic bikes at 50 stations around the city.

Annual passes are available for $80 and include unlimited 30-minute rides.

If you only need a bike for the short-term, you can also rent from the program by the hour, but prices are a little steep.

At the rate of $1/ride + $0.15/mile, it will cost you $10 for the first hour and $9 every hour after that.

If you prefer a more traditional rental method, there are a few local bike shops that offer rentals, but the service can be sporadic.

Bicycle Garage Indy, for instance, typically offers bicycle rentals, but isn’t renting for the 2021 season.

When in doubt, call ahead to make sure rental bikes are available.

Indianapolis Canal Bike Rental

One place you can always find an available bike rental is by Indy’s Central Canal. (Well, almost always. Summer does have higher demand!) 

There is a main bike rental agency right off the canal path. 

Wheel Fun Rentals offers a variety of fun bike types, including standard two-wheelers, multi-person surreys, tandems, and one- or two-person low-riders.

They also have electric bikes if you’ve been walking around all day and need a little relief.

Along with the canal path itself, this rental location provides immediate access to White River State Park, giving you lots of space to explore without crossing a main street.

Great for families with small children!

Indiana Bicycle Laws 

When on a street or roadway, cyclists in Indiana are considered the same as automobiles.

They must follow all the same rules of the road… for the most part.

Cyclists must stop for stop signs or red lights.

However, unlike cars, cyclists may proceed through a red light in any direction if it’s safe to do so.

Bike helmets are required in Indiana for anyone under the age of 18.

Indiana Electric Bike Laws 

Indiana law recognizes three classes of e-bikes:

  • Class 1: pedal assist up to 20 miles per hour
  • Class 2: throttle-controlled motor up to 20 miles per hour
  • Class 3: pedal assist over 20 miles per hour

Class 3 e-bikes are not permitted on most recreational bike paths, trails and multi-use recreational paths.

Class 3 e-bikes are permitted on most roadways, unless otherwise marked.

When on paths and bike lanes, e-bikes are treated as vehicles, subject to the same laws as cars.

Some local jurisdictions also have specific e-bike laws, so always check before riding into another city or county.

Indiana Mountain Bike Trails

Mountain Bike Trails Indianapolis

While Indianapolis may not seem like the best spot in the Indiana to go mountain biking, the city has some surprising MTB gems amidst its bike trails.

Town Run Trail

The Town Run Trail is a nearly 7-mile trail next to the White River and close to Fort Harrison State Park.

The terrain is open with a lot of ups and downs, but there is nothing too difficult to put off beginners.

Due to this, the trail can be quite heavily-trafficked with slow riders.

If you can get in early on a weekday, you’ll have a better experience.

Even experts will love the features they’ve added to this trail to play on.

Fort Benjamin State Park

The trails at Fort Benjamin State Park run the gamut.

Camp Glenn Trail is the easiest, a good place for beginners or to warm up or cool down.

Lawrence Creek is intermediate with more rocks and crossings.

Schoen Creek is the most difficult, increasing the rock coverage and providing crossings that can prove challenging even for skilled mountain bikers.

All trails at Fort Benjamin are shared with pedestrians, so keep that in mind.

You’ll find less of them on the harder trails.

Where to Fat Bike in Indiana

Fat Bikes can be used on any MTB trail where there is snow, and Indiana has a few trails perfect for navigating the powder. 

Brown County State Park

Brown County State Park has nearly 30 miles of mountain bike trails, ranging from easy to expert.

You can fat bike many of these.

The trails are shared and popular for winter hikers. But you’ll still find them far more deserted than during the high season.

O’bannon Woods State Park

O’bannon Woods State Park features over 17 miles of rollings hills for mountain bikers in multiple trails.

Some trails are shared with pedestrians/horses, but they largely clear out come winter.

When fat biking in Indiana’s state parks, only ride when the snow is flush.

Trails may close off and on throughout the season when trails are too wet and dangerous.

Best Bike Trails in Indiana – Paved

Three very long paved trails are part of the U.S. Bicycle Route system that make use of Indiana highways.

USBR 35 is a 381-mile route that goes from the north end to the south end of the state.

It starts at the Michigan border and ends at the Ohio River.

USBR 36 is a 58-mile route from Hammond and is an east-west route.

Much of this trail is off-road but still paved.

USBR 50 is a 160-mile route from the Illinois border near Terre Haute to Indianapolis.

Monon Trail

The 26-mile Monon Trail is, for the most part, paved. It runs along an old rail bed and passes through many areas of Indianapolis, before leaving the city and connecting with Sheridan.

There are many long stretches with little vehicular traffic.

The trail gets more wooded and rural as it travels north.

Cardinal Greenway

The Cardinal Greenway is a 62-mile trail from Marion to Richmond.

The trail is largely flat with asphalt the entire way.

There are some breaks in the trail, but it’s relatively easy (and paved) to make the connections.

This route covers a more rural area of the state, passing through woods, farms, and many small towns.

Nickel Plate Trail

The Nickel Plate Trail is in the northern part of Indiana

It runs roughly 40 miles from Rochester to Kokomo.

Another rural trail, it passes through hills and long stretches of woods, with a lot of farmland and small towns along the way.

Pumpkinvine Nature Trail

Passing through Indiana’s Amish Country, Pumpkinvine Nature Trail runs almost 18 miles, all but two miles of it paved.

Those two miles are flat-packed gravel, almost as smooth as the asphalt.

The Pumpkinvine Trail runs between Goshen and Shipshewana, passing through small towns and four parks with restrooms.

The trail is primarily a bike trail.

Best Mountain Bike Trails in Indiana 

Brown County State Park

“Bike” magazine named Brown County State Park in Nashville, Indiana one of the best parks for mountain biking in the entire United States.

The trails here were built with mountain biking in mind.

The nearly 30 miles of mostly single-track features challenging climbs, berms, steep descents and switchbacks, as well as rock gardens, trees, and other novel obstacles.

There is a little something for all skill levels.

A lot of advanced bikers use this trail as their training ground.

Town Run Trail Park

One of the most popular mountain bike trails in the state is in Indiana’s biggest city, Indianapolis.

Town Run Trail Park features approximately 7 miles of climbs and descents.

Mostly single-track, it winds through the White River Valley and is great for beginners.

Though, there is plenty for intermediate and advanced mountain bikers to like.

Prairie Creek Reservoir

For those wanting a little more challenge, you should make way to Prairie Creek Reservoir in Muncie.

Prairie Creek features five miles of trails that wind around and across each other.

There aren’t a lot of hills here, but the terrain itself is unforgiving.

If you find a single smooth spot, enjoy it while it lasts.

Steep rises and unexpected obstacles make this trail a doozy to navigate.

Gnaw Bone Camp

Gnaw Bone Camp is another MTB trail that will give you plenty of challenge.

Moderate climbs, steep, unruly descents, and multiple technical obstacles rate this trail an immediate Intermediate+.

You’ll need your balance and stamina for this one.

Intermediate riders, beware.

Beginners, stay away.

Indiana as a Biking Hotspot

Indiana may not be widely-known as a biking mecca, but, as far as trails and terrain go, it has some serious claims to fame.

Many bikers exalt Pumpkinvine Nature Trail as one of the most delightful rides (and well-kept bike paths) in the Midwest.

Brown County State Park is admired for its extensive mountain bike trails for all skill levels.

Whether you ride the roads or the mountain paths, there is a lot to love inside Indiana’s state borders.

And the state makes its respect for and dedication to bikers of all stripes crystal clear.

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