Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Biking Indiana's Nickel Plate Trail

The Peru and Indianapolis Railroad was chartered in 1846 and the first train hit Peru in 1854.  It operated passenger service under various names (including Nickel Plate) until 1932 and freight service until 1992. The first 3 miles became paved trail in 2004.

The Nickel Plate Trail currently runs for nearly 14 miles of an eventual 40 mile trail, from Cassville (just north of Kokomo) to Peru in northern central Indiana. 

In Peru, you can  park at a small parking lot located on South Wallick Road (also called 125 West) off Business 31.  West Ellis Road will also take you to Wallick and then go left 2/10 of a mile.  Just north of the parking area you cross the mighty and famous Wabash River via this bridge...

As you pedal south, you quickly hit rural area with nice forest around you which would provide shade on a hot summer day.  One and two lane residential access roads are crossed, as well as a number of creeks.  The trail is paved and in very good condition and has mile posts every half-mile (as well as sign posts marking every 10 kilometers.)


For railroad buffs, remnants of the old line abound, from telegraph poles and mile posts, to piles of ties, to concrete columns with "W" telling the engineer to blow his whistle for a road crossing, and even a street (500 South Road) that still has the old tracks embedded in the roadway seen here...

You'll notice a gradual uphill for several miles, and in one place you'll see that the trail is built up 30 feet or so above the surrounding land and then you'll discover the reason as you reach 5th Street and the small community of Bunker Hill, elevation 810 feet.  The two block long main drag does offer the Mini-Mart Store if you need refreshments.  There are also stores near Bennett's Switch and Cassville, but there are no washroom or water facilities on the trail.

As the trail levels off, the forest protection from the sun ends as you reach open farmland with corn and soybean fields.

At the 7 mile mark you reach the Bunker Hill Dragstrip right along the trail. Too bad there was no action there the day I rode the trail!

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