When I was a kid, I used to bike all around my neighborhood. Pedaling as fast as I could with the wind rushing through me, I accelerated down the big hill without brakes like an adrenaline junkie while a blur of tiger lilies and cattails surrounding Shipshewana Lake blanketed my peripheral vision. It felt like I was flying and I relished in my freedom. I’ve tucked this moment of nostalgia in my memory bank as the childhood joy of biking but I am continually pleased to remind myself that I still love to fly on my bike. I don’t always realize it at first, but when my husband and I are cycling on a trail like the Oak Savannah through a forest lined with wildflowers, I tap into the sense of weightless flight on my two wheels and can’t help but smile.
The Oak Savannah Trail is one of the many pedestrian-only bike paths that connect the network of Northwest Indiana’s trails. Last September, I had the pleasure of riding this trail with my good friend Kelly from the Prairie Duneland trailhead in Chesterton to the end of the Oak Savannah in Griffith. If I had the legs to continue on a little further like Kelly, we would have carried on to the Erie Lackawanna trail that same afternoon. In my heart I wanted to continue exploring beyond our turnaround point, but in my brain, I knew that I would need to muster up some strength just to bike back the distance we had already traveled. I’m so glad that she came to visit so that we could ride this trail together and we will have to take our bikes on another path someday soon.
The Prairie Duneland Trail is often a starting point for Derek and I to run long distance or venture on an afternoon bike ride. Our outdoor rides were dormant over the winter months but our wheels were ready to hit the pavement and explore more trails now that the weather was warming up again. While I had ridden the Oak Savannah once before, it would be Derek’s first time to ride the full distance with me. We commenced at the bright red Trailblazers Bike Barn in Hobart, Indiana and headed west. The transition from the end of the Prairie Duneland at the bike barn to the beginning of Oak Savannah is slightly disjointed by intersection crossings and biking a few side streets but the trail is clearly marked with green bike signs that lead to an uninterrupted bike path once again.
A quaint, wooden fence lines the trail edges in miles of forest that sing to us from the birds inhabiting their branches. This stretch is magnificent as we ride together switching lead every once in a while. While there are a few street crossings, tunnels, and bridges as we travel through towns, it is easy to get lost in thought as we make our way through an urban wilderness.
We rode the Oak Savannah until the connection for the Erie Lackawanna trail and made our turnaround since the sun was setting and our stomachs were beginning to rumble. To our utmost surprise, we were faced with a roadblock at a railroad crossing on the return trip. We were going to wait it out, but after about ten minutes it didn’t seem like the train would be moving any time soon. Thankfully, I had a copy of the trail map with me so we backtracked to the end of Oak Savannah and made a short detour through the Oak Ridge Prairie Park which reunites with the main trail.
As the sun lowered into the soft glows of twilight, we pumped the pedals like birds in flight homeward bound. We followed the familiar street signs of the bike path in Hobart until we approached the big, red barn with a sigh of content satisfaction. It had been yet another wonderful bicycle ride to tuck into our happy memories.
Oak Savannah Trailhead Parking Lots:
East Trailhead: 4 North Hobart Road, Hobart, IN 46342.
West Trailhead: 301 South Colfax Street, Griffith, IN 46319.
Click to view the 2020 Northwest Indiana Greenways & Blueways Map PDF