It seems as though the season has finally turned to springtime with days of fresh rain and sunshine. With the warmer weather on our faces, we commenced our goal to bike the network of trails weaving through the Lakeshore area. We obtained a copy of the Northwest Indiana Greenways and Blueways map from our local library and checked off the Prairie Duneland trail that we had already completed last fall out of Chesterton. On Easter Sunday, the sun was out and the air was warm; so we pumped our tires and filled our bellies with a hearty lunch to fuel us for a long ride on the Erie Lackawanna trail.
The journey began at the trailhead parking lot in Crown Point, Indiana. It had been awhile since we had biked outside and we wanted to enjoy the afternoon so we decided to ride for distance at a relaxed pace taking time to pause for photo opportunities and water breaks.
The trail was popular with runners, walkers, and dogs with their owners pushing strollers. We passed families on wheels, rollerbladers, enthusiast cyclists, and were ourselves passed by many a semi-professional cyclist burning out their legs as they called ahead “on your left!” It was even with great curiosity that we witnessed pelotons in geese-like formation with matching uniforms calling out to each other and transitioning lead riders as they flew with the speed of a wind tunnel rushing past us. With the groups of peloton cyclists riding from the north end and our close proximity to the Chicago area, we knew that the Erie Lackawanna must be a travel destination for those who love to ride.
The trail itself is completely closed off to motorists with a two-way yellow line marking most of the path on an even, paved surface. Derek called it “smoother than butter” and it seemed like the best type of trail for those on rollerblades. As we entered each town, there were a number of brief street crossings but most traffic yielded to us at crosswalks.
The Erie Lackawanna trail ends in Hammond, Indiana but we missed an important turn in Munster that set us in onto a different trail following the Little Calumet River near the Indiana Welcome Center just off the toll road. It was getting warm and our frustration levels escalated as we debated over the maps and retraced our way back to the main trail. It was then that we noticed a small sign to turn and cross over a bridge to Wicker Park where we looped around the park a few times until we found ourselves turned around once again.
We weren’t far from the end of the trail but with our water bottles running low in the heat of the sun and knowing that we would eventually need to ride all the way home, our confusion with the surrounding area just got to be too much. It’s normal to experience a little difficulty when exploring a new area but it takes a bit of compromise and common sense when to decide to call it a day.
Setting our sights on the correct navigation, we turned back for Crown Point stopping for a little pick-me-up at a gas station for Gatorade, peanuts, and M&M’s. The ride back a bit more challenging with a surprisingly strong headwind but legs for days to power through. We stopped a few times to notice additional routes that we could take connecting to the Oak Savannah trail and the Ivan Gatlin Nature Preserve on Turkey Creek.
By the time we returned to the red barn in Crown Point, we had completed a round trip of 30 miles and were ready to carb up with a good meal of baked gnocchi at home. Crossing another trail off our list, the Erie Lackawanna was a pleasant adventure that we would surely ride again soon.
Click to view the 2020 Northwest Indiana Greenways & Blueways Map PDF