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Indiana’s Nickel Plate Trail runs along the former corridor of the Peru & Indianapolis Railroad chartered in 1846. The line offered passenger and freight service under various names, including the nickname Nickel Plate Road. The last trains ran on the tracks in 1992, and the corridor was railbanked in 1999. Remnants of the railroad can still be seen at the trailhead gazebo in Rochester, where the trail takes off to the south and the unused tracks remain visible to the north.
The Nickel Plate Trail traverses rural Indiana from Rochester south to the outskirts of Kokomo, with a 3.6-mile gap in the middle in Peru. Beginning in Rochester, the northern segment runs 21 miles through a shifting landscape of trees, cultivated fields, and small-town neighborhoods. The route passes through the communities of Macy, Birmingham, Deedsville, Denver, and Courter before entering the outskirts of Peru, home to the International Circus Hall of Fame, which hosts a Circus City Festival every summer. The segment ends at the small country road Lovers Lane.
The official Nickel Plate Trail website provides a recommended on-road route to connect to the southern section from Lovers Lane. After the gap, the southern section, spanning more than 15 miles, picks up in Peru at Walnut Street, just north of downtown. However, the more convenient way to access the trail is at one of the various parking lots off Main Street, where a trailside gazebo and signage can be seen from the road.
From Main Street heading south along the path, you will immediately cross the trail’s iconic trestle bridge over the Wabash River. The original bridge structure, embellished with bright-blue guardrails, offers scenic views of the river rock formations that comprise the bed of Little Pipe Creek. Historical markers on either side of the bridge share some of the history along this former rail corridor, including a tragic train accident in January 1893 when the train jumped the tracks at the bridge, plunging passengers and crew 30 feet off the bridge into the icy waters below.
From the bridge, the trail passes through the towns of Bunker Hill, Miami, and Cassville, offering a bounty of dense forests, water views, and wildlife. You will find yourself in a forest thick with willows and maple trees. It may seem quiet here in the forest, but you are not alone: deer, rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks are likely to cross your path. Many different species of birds make their homes in these trees. If you’re cross-country skiing here in winter, this path is nothing short of a snowy wonderland.
The trail continues through the forest canopy, passing small farms and rural homesteads that periodically pop into view as it passes through the small farming community of Cassville and ends at a trailhead with parking at the intersection of IN 931 and US 35.
To access the northern trailhead in Rochester: From Indianapolis, take US 31 N approximately 80 miles, and turn right onto Wabash Ave. in Rochester. In 0.5 mile turn left to stay on Wabash, and go another 1.1 miles. The trailhead and parking lot will be immediately on your left just after crossing Mitchell Dr.
To access the southern trailhead in Kokomo: From Indianapolis, take US 31 N approximately 44 miles to Exit 166 for US 35. Bear left onto US 35 and travel 0.8 mile. Turn left into the parking lot as you approach the traffic light at the intersection with IN 931.
I rode this trail in July of 2017. I went from Rochester to Kokomo, got food, and rode back up to my car in Rochester.
Surface - all asphalt, and in good condition when I rode it. Did it on a road bike with 23mm tires and had no issues - held a great pace and didn't get shook up.
Scenery - Relaxing, but nothing to write home about for the most part. Corn Belt views. However, there are some cool river crossings, and the descents into Peru from either direction were scenic and interesting.
Amenities - This trail passes through a good amount of towns. I never felt worried about my water access.
- Biking to food on the Kokomo end is a bit of a haul. Not as bad in Rochester. But, there was a Hardee's there, so it was 100% worth it.
- Loved the southbound climb out of Peru. Stream crossings, curves, the bridge over the Wabash...highlight section of the ride.
- There's a road crossing every mile for most of the ride. Not busy roads, but it can be a bit annoying.
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. It is also a very well-maintained trail--a storm came through last night with high winds, resulting in a few downed limbs and many walnuts strewn on the pavement. By the time we passed back through these areas late in the afternoon, someone had taken care of almost all of it! There was a tree across the trail at one point; another trail user told us she had contacted someone about getting it takne care of; that was around 10:30 and by the time we passed by on our way back south you'd have never known the tree was ever there. You can tell people care about this trail and it's one we very highly recommend!
Rode 34 miles of the trail this weekend. Weather was cool with only a slight breeze. We started in Rochester and rode to Denver and back on Saturday. The trail gets prettier as you ride south. If you have limited time or energy start at Peru and ride south from there. Entire trail is clean paved and well maintained with benches about every 5 miles or so. Limited restrooms but plenty of remote areas for emergency use.
The whole trail is a great ride and the communities along the route are full of friendly people and accommodating services. What a jewel of a rail-trail.
The easy to find trailhead is a half mile West of Hwy 31 on Hwy 35. It is about 14.5 miles North to the Wabash River in Peru and the trail extends another half mile. You are then directed through the city of Peru for 4.5 miles by road markers until you pick up the trail again just north of Peru. The trail then continues about 20 miles until it ends in Rochester. The trail is paved asphalt and flat. It is very scenic and there are numerous places to visit in Peru and Rochester. It is an easy 45 minute drive from the North side of Indianapolis to the trailhead up Hwy 31. Safe travels.
Today's ride was roundtrip from Kokomo to Peru on my Trek Madone 6.5 Project One road bike and it was a great ride. This is a first-class trail and one that should not be missed.
We like to tent camp off our bikes, so sometimes this involves being stealth and staying where there is no official campground. We often stay along the trail or behind public parks. Rarely does anyone know we are there for a night. We are always trying to find places to stop at…for about any reason.
So this review might best serve others who may want to do this also and I will offer information that previous reviews did not.
Oct. 6th ..started at Rochester trail-head (41.055279, -86.201704) …safe overnight parking…port-potti..no water. Come prepared.
1st stop...11 miles..town of Macy..they did have a nice restroom but it was closed because of vandalism …still offered free air for your tires and a pop machine..just go west from the trail and left on Columbia St
2nd stop ..15 miles…town of Deedsville…closed post office with a bench..great place to take a break and just look around. Nothing open anymore…just nostalgia
3rd stop..18 miles…town of Denver…the Denver Tavern…$1 draft beer and good food specials….see https://www.facebook.com/TheDenverTavern/
Also a convenience store w/sandwiches….and an ice cream/food stand by the ball park
End of trail at Lovers Lane.. 22 miles…
Next is my favorite route thru Peru on city streets and back to the bike trail on south side of Peru… where you can pickup the trail as it crosses the Wabash river.. there has not been much traffic on these streets when I have ridden them.
turn left at Lover’s Lane (end of trail), take the first right, which is Denver Pike/CR 30E, going under US 24, it curves to the left and becomes Harrison St…. continue on Harrison to Water St. and turn right. ….take Water St. till it dead ends at Canal St (1 mile)…take a right at Canal St. …follow this until you cross Broadway St…from there you can get onto the Peru River walk (parallels Canal St.)…there is restrooms and water along this scenic trail..its also lighted at night…follow the Peru River walk till it ends..then turn right thru a stone parking lot back to Canal St…to 2nd St…2nd will go into West Side Park…ride across the park to the opposite side and you pick up a very short unpaved trail …it take a one minute ride from the park and it drops you on the trail at the bridge across the Wabash River. I find this is the most scenic and safest route. It’s easier then maybe my directions would suggest.
Camping…we camp just to the left side of the bike bridge. You will find paths leading down to the river. It would appear all the land down there is flooded at times. So if there has been flood conditions lately..this may not work, but we have not had problems yet.
We set our tent up and then ride to Boondocks for dinner and cruise downtown to visit a few other places. The ride back at night is easy and the town seemed safe as any.
Hope this helps someone who is liked minded.
http://www.nickelplatetrail.org/map/ to print a mileage chart
http://www.nickelplatetrail.org/parking/ to find parking and restrooms
https://www.facebook.com/TheDenverTavern/ check on specials
Best Place to eat…Boondocks (280 E Canal St, Peru)…New Orleans themed bar/restaurant..outside patio...consider the Gator Bait flatbread…garlic or bbq for $10 …feeds 2 people….delicious! great bottle beer selection $4…or $2 Budlight drafts…music some nights…many great reviews
The Miami County Museum is located at 51 North Broadway Peru, Indiana 46970. free or suggested $3 admission (765) 473-9183 Interesting stop.
40.742772, -86.094767 camping spots along the river
I rode this trail from Rochester southward on August 7th of 2016, and honestly I could not find anything wrong with it other than the fact that there were not many benches for resting. It starts out running alongside Hwy 31, but soon veers off, it becomes quiet, and you realize you are now surrounded by nice views of Indiana farmland on both sides. In addition to the trail, Rochester is a nice little town with impressive older homes near its historic looking downtown. And the Dam Bar and Grill on the shore of Lake Manitou is a great place to eat with nice lake views.
I decided to do my first century ride one Saturday Morning. The day was great however there was a head wind from the North so it was nice starting in Kokomo and getting the north part of the trip done first. It is just about as flat as it can be. There is a slight uphill going all the way to Rochester however most people would not even notice much. Several county roads to cross and getting through Peru was very easy. No cars and very few bicycles on the trail ,even on a Saturday. Loved the trail and will visit again soon.
This is a great trail for getting back into the groove of riding regularly. The forest and wildlife make it good for casual ridinh too. Friendly people and maintained well.
I currently live in Indianapolis, but I lived in Kokomo for about 22 years of my life. I've known about the Nickel Plate Trail for years, and have wanted to ride it, but never had the chance till one day last year when I had an odd day off from work.
Normally I mountain bike ride, but used a road bike for this occasion. I drove up from Indy and parked at the Cassville trailhead. Once underway, I began enjoying the rolling terrain of north central Indiana, where I spent my formative adult years. South of Peru is especially nice, with great cover from the summer sun. The trail even passed by the historic Bunker Hill dragstrip, where my dad used to take me to watch his friends race in the mid-70s.
I had no issues navigating in Peru to get to the trailhead at Lover's Lane, and picked up the trail again. The trail surface was a bit rough from tree roots pushing up under the path at first, but it subsided after about a mile. Once I got outside of Peru, the canopy went away, and was exposed to the blazing sun for quite a distance. I passed through several small towns on the way to Rochester, and had a chance to stop for a quick break to give my backside some relief. The only real drawback I saw was that the trail did run close enough to US 31 south of Rochester to see and hear traffic noise, but that was just a minor irritation.
Once in Rochester, I rode up to the downtown area to find a convenience store to use the bathroom and lay in supplies for the return trip. On the way back toward Peru going south, I was astounded to see a doe and fawn alongside the trail in an adjoining homeowner's yard! I stopped to get a picture, but they wandered off before I could snap the pic. Ugh. Anyway I began to get leg weary and a bit overheated on the way back in, then caught some relief once the tree cover began again north of Peru. As one other commenter said, you can definitely tell where the grade rises and falls oh-so gradually!
Soon, I was back at the Cassville trailhead, relieved I was done and very saddle-sore. My bike computer had the trip at just under 80 miles, which counted the extra mileage puttering around Rochester looking for a convenience store. Not really sure of the time, but it was somewhere in the five hour range. All in all, a great ride!
My next trip will incorporate one pass of the Nickel Plate from Kokomo up to Rochester, then west to Winamac and pick up the Panhandle Parkway south to Logansport, then over to Peru and back to Kokomo.
I used to live in Kentucky and every time that my wife and I visit Macy, In. I take my bike to ride on this trail. My wife's family live in the area and I never go there without my bike. This trail is beautiful, peaceful and mostly shaded. I have biked it from Macy to Rochester and to lovers lane, sometime in sections and sometime all inclusive. I recommend this trail to any biker that visit the area. In Macy there is not a store or a place to buy food but in Rochester there is a store where to supply yourself with a drink or snacks.
I started from Rochester, and it's very smooth all the to Peru for 20 miles straight and once you get to Peru the trail ends abruptly and you have to route through the town and I wasn't a big fan of that. But good overall
I road the north section of the trail 9/26/2015. I wanted to get a feel for it before returning to ride the entire thing in a few weeks. The trail is wide, flat and well maintained. I did get lost when trying to find the southern portion from the northern portion but that is why I did a test run :-)
I am sure after doing the entire trail in a few weeks I will be back again next spring/summer to do it again. It is worth the 1 hour drive for the variety.
We just rode the northern part of this trail and it is nice and fairly even though the incline is as you head south out of Rochester. We tried to find parking in Macy and finally found a small community park a few blocks away from where the trail map says there is parking. We will try other sections of this trail in the future! Sept 2015
This trail is the perfect length for a long day trip or an overnight two day trip, with options to shorten it with lunch at any one of several towns along the way before turning back. We did the whole thing in two days from Rochester to Kokomo and back, staying in Kokomo overnight. From Rochester Trail Head to the Fairfield Inn in Kokomo it's 46 miles. The trail north of Bunker Hill is the most scenic and Peru is a great little town with plenty of eateries. There is a nice trailhead in Rochester and we felt comfortable leaving our car overnight there. The trail is well maintained, is mostly flat, but you do go down into and back out of the Wabash River Valley. It's not bad, but you know when your going downhill gradually and then up hill gradually. The only little irritation on the trail was all the road crossing which necessitated stopping often. I guess that can be good or bad depending if you want to stay in high gear and roll. We were loaded down with packs for our overnight so didn't mind slowing for crossings. We saw lots of wildlife along the trail and the pork producers and doing well in the northern half based on the aromas. At the south end there is also a nice trailhead just north of the transmission plant. From there is a short jaunt across 931 and down a side road the the Kokomo Industrial Heritage Trail that runs all the way thru Kokomo to the circle of hotels on the south side. The Heritage trail has a couple places you have to get on streets to naviagte around parts not paved, but it was easy to do and the streets were very lite traffic.
As a fan of railroad history and rail trails, I always love biking on these ghost rails. The Nickel Plate route in its heyday spanned from Indianapolis to Michigan City, IN. This was part of the same railroad that the ITM hosts State Fair trains from Noblesville to Indy. Currently that rail heads up to Tipton before it becomes abandoned; from that point to Kokomo the route is presently abandoned rail.
One recent Saturday I came up from Indianapolis, about a 45 minute drive. I began my bike ride on the south trailhead, which is on the north edge of Kokomo at the intersection of US-31 and Howard County Road 400 North/SR 931/US-35. Here is a large parking lot and two portable toilets (but bring your own hand sanitizer and water). Trail use on this particular day was very light with only one or two other cars parked at the trailhead. The trail briefly jogs over to SR 931 at a signalized crossing and then back over to the original railbed.
The trail goes under the new US 31 lanes, through the small village of Cassville, then cuts through some fields and is mostly lined by trees. There are a few county road crossings with light traffic. There is an intermediate trailhead located in Bennetts Switch which is near US 31 & SR 18, but there is no bathroom or water there either. After you get to Bunker Hill you will cross a ghost railroad junction on the north side of downtown, then the terrain starts to have more trees, streams, and creeks and is a lush green canopy of forest.
After arriving in Peru you will cross over the Wabash River on the trestle rail bridge from the 1950's. At this point you will have some fast food places and small restaurants to replenish fluids and get a snack. The trail goes on for about a half mile until coming to a dead end; you can continue onto an alleyway until coming into town and navigating side streets. If you follow the existing railroad tracks you will come to the Peru NS yard and possibly see some freight train movement. Continue back toward the northwest part of town near the intersection of Meridian Road & Lovers Lane where the trail resumes.
The trail continues to be a lush green canopy and thins out passing more fields toward Denver and Rochester. There are a couple places and shops in Denver to take a break or refill your water. I'd encourage buying a snack or drink or something from these places to support the businesses and the small towns that host this trail.
I didn't make it all the way to Rochester on my first trip, so I turned back to Kokomo after refueling in Denver. On this 56-mile roundtrip ride I encountered less than 15 other people on the trail between Kokomo and Denver. Overall, a very peaceful place to ride your bike or take a relaxing walk. Hope you enjoy the Nickel Plate Trail as much as I did!
Started in Rochester at the new trailhead ... down to Kokomo and back... including a little side trip to refuel... 81.7 mi total. Wonderful trail. Will be getting back soon
I've done the Northern run from Lovers Lane (just off hiway 24) Peru to Rochester twice (OK one and three quarter times). Bucking head winds in the open country portion of the ride I turned around at mile 15 of a 22 mile run on my second attempt.
The ride beings at Lovers Lane with a nice hill and continues on a bit of incline much of the way to Rochester (or at least it seemed so at the time). The ride back was noticably easier. The first part of the ride is tree lined which provides a nice wind break if it's 'one of those days'. When you hit the open country there's a noticable difference.
At the end of the ride there's a gazebo and a porta-potty. More comfort facilities would be nice however we crountry kids know that tress and corn fields are God's porta-potties so it's no big deal.
The scenery along the way with trees, wooden bridges and farm houses is Indiana at its best.
A great ride with very little traffic and few roads to cross.
This is a well maintained peaceful trail through North Central Indiana. I ran a 20 miler here on a Monday afternoon starting at the Northern most point in Rochester off Wabash Avenue. There is a nice big parking lot here connected to the start of the trial.
I didn't see a single soul on the trail going 10 miles South. It was just me, the cows, and some sheep. I was happy to see a bluejay, which I don't see too often. I saw a handful of people on my return back North especially the closer I got to Rochester (it was later in the day and people probably just got off work). Lots of farmland and some nice bridges across streams and creeks. Plenty of benches too if you need to sit. I was sad when I had to turn around to go back North, I was enjoying my run so much. I'll look forward to coming back next time to see more of the trial. Also, this trail is nice and flat!
Areas of improvement. Lack of designated parking spots. The Wabash Ave parking lot in Rochester was the only obvious marked parking place I saw on the Northern 10 miles of this trial. I did see a designated grass parking area somewhere in the middle along my way, but I couldn't tell you how to get to it or if it was even connected to any road. I have no idea how anyone in a car would find it unless you knew about it. If there were other places to park, I didn't notice them. Also, I only saw one porta potty/rest area, and that was at the very start of the trail in the Rochester parking lot. I really appreciate the length of this trial, but as a female distance runner, port-potties are pretty important. I was lucky this time. Just those 2 improvements and this would be a five star trial easily.
I started at the new southernmost point, just north of Chrysler plant at 931 and 35. What a lovely 40-mile day! Rode to Peru and wandered through town to the Lovers Lane trailhead (you have to look closely for the road markings, but they are there) and then headed back to town for a little time in the Miami Co. Museum and a burger at Gabriels. The whole experience was just central Indiana in a nutshell. Beautiful views of barns and crops, small critters and birds everywhere, small towns, and a "big town" experience with Peru. Particularly idyllic was the last 2 miles into Peru along a chattering Little Pipe Creek. If you are looking for crowds, social life, and buildings, head for the Monon. If you are looking for solitude and country, head to the Nickle Plate. I can't wait to get back up there and do the northern half.
There is a new section recently opened up south of Cassville. It stretches approximately one mile and a half south. Very nice smooth asphalt. Ends just north of Chrysler at 931.
The trail itself from end to end is a very enjoyable ride. The rises are gradual and easy to manage. The pavement is smooth, with just a few minor issues to navigate around. While riding today, we saw a variety of wildlife ranging from a deer, tons of playful chipmunks, several groundhogs, and many different colorful birds.
Our only complaints about the trail which prevents us from rating it as a 5-star trail, is the lack of restrooms along the trail, the poor parking conditions at many of the trail-heads, and the fact that signage leading to the trail from area highways is nonexistent.
We will definitely be back to ride this trail as it is still worth the ride despite the lack of amenities.
We loved the ride on the north trail. I can't wait to get back and ride the south trail.
We had a wonderful ride on Nickel Plate. I can't wait to get back and ride the south end.
Started from the Southern Mile 13.7, I believe. I biked across a really nice route. The trail was clean and well-marked and I could just cruise! Because I had just quite smoking, it was nice to just zone out, until stop signs came. A fair bit of traffic, about a person every mile. Easily navigated.
I read some people declaring this one big hill. I thought it was a perfect flat ride with a couple dinkers. Really nice bridges. The south Wabash Bridge is really cool. It was interesting to see the retrofitting of it. Looks like they kept the tracks to act as "longitudinal reinforcement" of the concrete.
I got a bit lost when looking for the northern portion. Granted, I didn't look at the map very well and I had no service in Peru (Verizon). So I just rode around town, saw some nice stores.
On my way back, it was 630pm, I was tired, but enthusiastic. I saw many species of bird: finch, blue jay, woodpecker (technically heard him). About 5 woodchucks dive-bombed me over about 6 miles. One played varsity ball, apparently, because he went straight for my ankles. It was an experience. I'll be going back for the northern route!
My wife and I are traveling from Ohio to Iowa for family weddings, and are stopping along the way for rides we've found on Trail Links. This one caught our eye as paved and over 20 miles.
We started at the southern trailhead at mile 0.
The first few miles are a bit of an upward grade, but manageabe
Le (avg 14.5 mph). We commented often that we would enjoy the return trip.
Other than one short section that is in need of repair the trail bed is in fantastic condition, smooth and well maintained.
In Rochester we discovered that there is an additional 1 mile long section paved within the last few weeks.
If you're doing an out-and-back ride our recommendation is to start at the southern end.
We're already talking about bringing riding friends here for a biking weekend!
Started in Rochester and rode to Peru. Went off the trail at Lovers Lane and rode in to Peru, approximately 1 mile. Plenty of places to eat and replenish water. It was a beautiful trail, very well kept. The one area that needs repaired is very well marked. All roads that we had to cross were very well marked with stop signs and road markers. There is a port-a-potty at the trail head in Rochester, but do not recall seeing one at Peru. We will ride this one again.
Excellent trail to see beautiful farmland. No shelters to escape the pop up thunderstorm that drenched me. Had a great ride nonetheless!
This trail provides a wonderful opportunity to show younger riders how important the railroad once was to these little towns. Hopefully, a new kind of prosperity can arrive with the recreational visitors.
The trail has been extended into the south edge of Rochester... from there north, the trains still operate to Michigan City. Tasteful benches are provided along the way, but no water or toilet facilities except for a portable at the northern terminus.
Denver seems to be ready to offer food and drink...
We parked at the trailhead at Lover's Lane and biked toward Rochester. As noted there are no restrooms and no water on the trail so come prepared. The trail starts out with a 2 mile easy grade climb. You seem to be climbing up a ridge. This is the "steepest" of the climbs although it is an easy grade. The best part is when you head back from Rochester you know the last 2 miles will be your best downhill. The rest of the ride is very gradual descents- barely noticeable, and some gradual climbs to Rochester. The first 10 miles are mostly protected from the wind and you get a nice shaded pathway. The trail is in good shape,very smooth. There are a few spots, well marked, closer to Rochester where the pavement has cracked and is sunken, possibly due to heavy rain.The last approximate 10 miles are more open farm fields. We biked out and back on our Mt. bikes in a little over 3 hours. We stopped for munchies a few times but did not go into any towns. The trail back to Peru is more uphill and we hit a 20-30 mile headwind which made it a bit more challenging. However, once you get within 10 miles of Peru you do get more shelter from the wind for most of the ride. We saw a huge snapping turtle on the side of the path, a snake and various birds. Very few people. 2 walkers and 3 bikers. One apparently didn't realize you need to callout "on your left" or some type of warning and almost caused a crash. Please remember to use this required courtesy. It saves a lot of grief. Especially on a trail that is not busy - no one expects you or hears you coming and even when staying in your own lane there are always branches to dodge etc.. At the Rochester end there was a sign that says "trail end" but we noticed another asphalt stretch continuing so it looks as if they have made good progress. This is a very clean trail - no litter and I hope everyone helps it stay that way. There was a section with a bunch of emerald green flies all over it for quite a way - the breeze was a blessing as it kept them from landing and biting - it also encouraged me to pick up my pace! I might pack some bug spray next trip. It is a lot nicer than our Monon in Carmel if you are looking for a quiet peaceful uncrowded ride to stretch out a bit. Enjoy!
Ride this trail in the fall . . . the wildflowers are abundant, the fields are golden, and the temperatures perfect. There is very little tree cover, so summer temperatures could be brutal. The trail is mostly flat and smooth, and there are frequent stops for cross traffic (which seldom seems to be at right angles, so there's over-the-shoulder viewing for safety). Rest rooms are the biggest problem, although Denver seemed hospitable, and we found a pizza place that offered drinks and facilities.
This trail is nice and long. Almost 40 miles long! Typically I ride the trail from Peru to Miami and back (20 mi, round trip) and it is smooth and a great endurance builder for biking. You will have to stop at roads (cross traffic does not stop, but there isn't much traffic) when you go through different towns, but it's not a problem. This section of the trail is mostly shady, giving great protection from sun. There are a few small parking areas along the way and there are safety signs at every crossing. Peru even built a crosswalk for the trail so that bikers/joggers/walkers could get through town safely. The grade changes are barely perceptible in this section and the views are wonderful. You'll go over bridges, above the fields and through them. It's quite a sight! This trail does not feature any bathrooms, however it does go through towns with gas stations if you really need one. Recently someone built an enclosed vending machine snack/drink stand (with picnic table) about a mile from the Walick Rd parking lot. There are plenty of rest benches along the trail, most of them are shaded by trees and donated by local organizations and youth service projects. I love this trail and bike it 4 times a week. It provides exercise and free fun for families and teenagers in the cities and towns along the trail.
We parked in a small gravel patch good to fit only about 5-6 cars. Starting out from the lot on Lovers Lane to the trail its uphill right away. We have done many trails and this one felt really tough. It always seemed that we were struggling slightly uphill. We thought the ride back would be easier and downhill but that wasn't the case. It is nicely paved, nice views, but wasn't an enjoyable ride. There are also no water fountains so bring plenty of water.
VERY windy today! Was riding south and the wind was right in our faces the whole way down. Took some nice pictures along the way of the Wabash River and creeks running off of the trail. The trail is very smooth, clean and well taken care of. Not much to see along the way though, would be nice to know if there are any little shops off the trail as you ride along. Overall it was a nice ride, we have done the north ride as well.
The Nickel Plate North Trail is totally paved from the start near the Judy Burton Nature Preserve (south of Rochester) to the parking at Lovers Lane Road north of Peru. As with the Nickel Plate South Trail (Peru to Cassville), the trail, as of November 2011, is well-maintained, offers rest areas with benches, but does not have any trail-provided water or restrooms. The town of Denver had at least two options for food, one being a mini mart with indoor tables and another small Italian place with outdoor seating only. For more information on the Nickel Plate Trail, see my review under “Nickel Plate Trail (Peru to Cassville Section)”.
The Nickel Plate Trail is currently under active construction, so beware that any information is only accurate for the date it was written. We rode it in its entirety early November of 2011. We enjoyed it a lot, particularly since the fall leaves at this time were still colorful. While there are many exposed sections, much of it does have trees on one or both sides of the trail. It has a lot of very nice bridges, and the trail is well-maintained. The path is totally paved from the parking at Wallick Road in Peru to the town of Cassville. As of November 2011, the trail offers many rest areas with a bench and trail map sign, and occasionally a picnic table, but it does not have any trail-provided water sources or restrooms. However, there are mini marts or gas stations at or near Bunker Hill, Bennetts Switch, and Cassville. These can be located on Google Maps. We ate lunch at the gas station in Cassville (on Highway 31), which offered very friendly service, a wide variety of hot food, drinks, snacks, and also had indoor tables.
I checked to see if each of the parking areas designated on the maps from nickelplatetrail.org did exist, and they indeed did, although occasionally it seemed they might have been a bit difficult to find in a car with just the maps provided, without better detail or verbal instructions. Each of these can be located on Google Maps, as it shows the intersection of each street name with the Nickel Plate corridor. Note also that many of the parking areas were very small, including the one on Wallick Road, and could potentially fill quickly on weekends with good weather.
One of the trail maps on nickelplatetrail.org could imply that the trail continues through the city of Peru. This part is still under active construction, and an alternate map on that site does provide a street alternative. However, note that as of November 2011, the mile and a half from the city of Peru north to the Lovers Lane Parking is a narrow dirt path on the old rail corridor with a lot of natural debris such as branches, briars, sticks, etc. in the path. There is also one creek crossing that involves negotiating a short but extremely steep path.
I've ridden this trail twice now this summer. It's a smooth clean and secluded trail that alternates between open farm fields and wooded areas. It's perfect for casual or avid cyclists. Bring your own water and be willing to be creative when it comes to using the restroom, because the trail does not provide these. Denver is a good rest point--my mom and I happened through during a Saturday afternoon Little League tournament and found restrooms available as well as chocolate shakes. Just south of Rochester you may see an Amish farmer out on a hay wagon or a fox darting into the brush, like we did. However, they've had some problems with vandalism so be sure to keep an eye out for trail conditions.
Me and my GF rode the entire trail today, 40+ miles from the south to north. Starts out in a shady area but the majority of the trail was in the sun. We drank quite a lot of water, small store in Denver. No water fountains or bathrooms along the way. Parking near the south on Lovers Lane Rd. is a small gravel patch, maybe five cars. I parked in a medical facility lot off of 24. Trail is clean, smooth with a few rises/grades. It's a nice trail but if you go on a hot day, take plenty of water and be prepared for no bathrooms along the way.
We are new to bike riding and have used this trail twice. We started in Cassville and rode 5 miles up and 5 miles back to Cassville. This trail is very well kept and we really like it. We want to work our way up to riding to Peru and back to Cassville. We are an older couple so we have to get used to riding.
I rode north from Peru to Rochester and back, a total of 40 miles. The trail itself is in excellent condition and well maintained. The only restroom is single port-o-pot at the north end. There are a couple of stores in Denver, about 6 miles north of Peru. There are no stores close to the end of the trail in Rochester. So pack what you need to take along.
About half the trail is shaded by trees.
Have been on this trail twice, once in the fall (best time to go) and once this spring. Going anytime it is hot can be tortuous as the farm fields seem to grow more heat than crops. The trail is mostly flat except southbound out of Peru but the grade is gentle enough for most people.
This trail can be quite beautiful at certain times of the year and if you want solitude this is the trail for you. Substantial parts are shaded but there are large stretches open to the hot sun so bring sunscreen and plenty of water.
There are some establishments open for trail users in the little town of Bunker Hill but I can't comment on them just yet since I have not visited them.
Overall a great trail!
FYI: The Nickel Plate group has added almost 20 miles of paved trail. It picks up at Lovers Lane located 1 mile north of Peru and ends at Wabash Avenue 1 mile south of Rochester. Parking available at Lovers Lane (limited), Denver, Deedsville, Birmingham, and Macy. No parking available on the north end as yet.
Work on the bridge over the Wabash River will begin in March which will connect the southern portion of the trail to Peru. This expected to be completed by late June.
The Nickel Plate group is working to connect the north and south sections through Peru. No timeline yet.
A short section on the north end has been railbanked and should complete the connection to Rochester sometime this year.
The eventual goal (2-3 Years) is to have a paved 40 plus mile trail from Kokomo to Rochester.
My family was pleased to discover this well-maintained, picturesque trail so close to our home near Indianapolis. Just an hour's drive north put us in beautiful farm country, with most of the trail wooded to provide respite from the summer sun. On a Friday afternoon, we started from Cassville trailhead, which was a little tricky to find, and worked our way to just south of Bunker Hill before our six year old's legs gave out. We returned Sunday to the Peru trailhead, only to find no parking. So we back-tracked to the Bunker Hill parking lot and then continued where he had left off. Facilities are not abundant, with no water that we could find and only an occasional, foul-smelling "port-a-potty." So have little ones (and big people) "go" before you start! Traffic was much less than encountered on our local Monon Trail, allowing our six year old to wander more freely and at her own pace. Other users included pedestrians walking their dogs, a couple "intense" bicyclists, but mostly locals enjoying a beautiful summer afternoon on their bicycles. We will definitely return!
Trail conditions wonderful!!! Ran past clean-up crew about halfway into my run. This trail is a 5 star trail!!!
This is our favorite trail in Nothern Indiana. It's the perfect Sunday ride! Long enough for a good workout but short enough to do in a couple of hours. Trail is well maintained, but parking in Peru can be difficult due to the growing popularity of the trail. Just north of Peru, on US 31, is a great apple orchard with resturant which servers great home cooked meals (fantastic apple dumplings, just right to replace the carbs you burn off riding).
The Nickel Plate now runs nearly 13 continuous (paved!) miles from Peru to Cassville. One of my favorites to bike. The northern end parallels much of Little Pipe Creek and has great tree canopies...nice on a hot day. Also travels through a few small towns and past a drag strip. A great ride!
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