Cycling is Growing in the Indiana Dunes
This post was written by Brooke Allen, Indiana Dunes Tourism’s Community Engagement Director.
I’m not a cyclist. I’m jealous of anyone who has the motivation to balance, pedal and sweat their way to a destination as I pass them in my air-conditioned car. Cyclists, I give you immense credit. No, really; I reach about a ½ mile on a bike before I start to sweat, my butt begins to hurt and I promptly turn around to head back home. I’m not cut out for the life of a bicycle enthusiast. If you, however, are not a wimp and find yourself in the Indiana Dunes, I can promise the chance of a pretty cool biking adventure.
Few people know that a nice system of interconnected road loops and paved trails crisscross our parks and region. Check out the Indiana Dunes Biking Guide for some details about each of these. The newly dedicated Dunes-Kankakee Trail is a little over two miles. It runs from the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center to Indiana Dunes State Park (and…it’s cheaper to get into the park by bike than by car. Shhh! I didn’t tell you that). But if you’re the go-big-or-go-home type, you could try a country road bike loop (the Valparaiso Loop is almost 40 miles) or mountain biking at Imagination Glen Park. Portage even has a BMX track if that’s your interest.
Perhaps you’re not a super cyclist and you want a relaxing family ride. We have that, too. Pedal Power Rentals is right next door to the Indiana Dunes Visitor Center. They’ll set you up not only with a bike to rent, but also with a helmet, bike lock and family-friendly biking map to safely get from here to there. Rent one of the tag-along bikes for your kiddo and create an Instagram-worthy photo opportunity. It’s sure to be cuteness overload. Thanks to the awesome folks at NICTD, you can also bring your bike to the dunes on a South Shore train!
If you’re on a long journey through the Indiana Dunes, stop and rest at the Visitor Center. We have restrooms, guides, a theater and real live people to answer your questions. It’s also air-conditioned here (I can already hear your tires stopping on the pavement outside). Earlier this year, the Evanston Bike Club stopped at the Visitor Center. They had just biked 10 miles from Portage and were continuing north to St. Joseph, Michigan. From there, they’d circle all the way around Lake Michigan before arriving back home near Chicago. Some serious ambition!
We also had the pleasure of hosting cyclists from the annual Tour de Shore event. They were also circling part of Lake Michigan, and again, ambition all around. I loved the enthusiasm of this group despite the fact that I KNOW their butts hurt. I got to overhear a very interesting conversation about ‘butt butter’ which left me with more questions than answers.
Cycling continues to grow in the Indiana Dunes. Even tonight, I’m on my way to a planning meeting for a future event that has outlined routes of 25, 50, 75, and 100 miles. 100 miles! That’s some serious biking. With continued partnerships promoting better trails, more access and safe routes, the Indiana Dunes are quickly becoming a must-ride spot for cyclists of all styles. If that includes you, I hope you love biking in the Indiana Dunes. It really is one of the most special places on earth. And as that Lake Michigan breeze blows through your hair, please feel free to wave back as I pass you in my car.
Ready to learn more about cycling your way through Indiana Dunes Country? Check out our main cycling page and watch the video below.