Smooth, Fast, and a little bit Scenic
We parked at the city park in Winamac, where there are full facilities and shaded parking [N41.850112, W86.597193]. There's a pedestrian bridge you can ride across the river, and from there it's 3 blocks to the Depot trailhead for Winamac's city trail, which connects to the Panhandle Pathway at the "official" trailhead on the south end of town.
This was a flat, wide, smooth trail with a great deal of sun exposure and very few bumps or cracks in the pavement. Much of it parallels the highway but with frequent screening by trees the traffic noise is not particularly intrusive. At the Cass County line you move from Central to Eastern time, a first for me on a bike! The trail soon turns away from the highway for good. The Kenneth trailhead is soon followed by the US 24 overpass (no access) and an abrupt end at the "Kenneth rest stop." It's a mini cul-de-sac in the middle of the woods; no choice here but to turn around and return, which we did.
I rode the length of the trail, having started in Royal Center, down to the southern Terminus, back north to the northern terminus and return.
The pavement over the entire route was smooth, with an occasional rock trying to cross the path...naturally I hit every one of them at 20 mph. The only difficulty, which was minor, is that some of the crossing roads are gravel, and didn't take to kindly to 700X23 tires, but I suppose if I actually stopped at the stop signs, it wouldn't have been an issue.
Two thumbs up, excellent pathway, probably the best one I have ever ridden. Oh, make sure you bring cow treats to feed the local cows, they will appreciate it.
Fun, Flat (Relaxing) Ride
Taking advantage of some cool (52 degrees morning) for July weather we loaded the bikes for the two hour drive from Indy to Royal Center to start our ride. Nice convenient parking lot at Royal Center right on the trail and we headed north for the 14.5 miles to Winamac with frequent stops to enjoy and photograph the Indiana countryside seen from the trail - creeks, Tippecanoe River, corn and soybeans, silos, barns, gardens and wildflowers. Saw lots of wildlife - from songbirds to toads to deer along the quite trail which we were able bike side by side. The trail is well maintained and smooth and each town along the route appears proud to host the trail with flowers and planting, signage and benches on which to rest. In Winamac we left the trail to bike the streets to check out some interesting historic homes and the courthouse in this picturesque county seat, and made a bathroom stop at a convenience store where we refilled our water bottles. Returned to the trail for the ride back to Royal Center where we rewarded ourselves with a frosty root beer and a coney dog at the very close to the trail iconic "Bob-O-Link" drive-in restaurant. With 31 miles under our belt for the day, we decided to forgo the south 6.5 mile each way portion of the trail from Royal Center to Logansport in order to pick some blue berries at one of the Starke County berry farms, but we will definitely return again to do the entire 42 mile round-trip on the Panhandle Pathway. We would highly recommend this trail for a relaxing country ride - go for it.
My husband and I traveled from Hobart, Ind. to Winamac, Panhandle Trail (Sept 19, 2012). Not yet Fall, but the weather was beautiful for a bike ride. (We ride a lot in our area of Northwest Indiana trails). We began our ride at CR150, there is parking access available. The trail hugs Rt. 35; your ride is right through the corn fields of Indiana. If you do travel this trail, be prepared for there are no restroom stops available. Star City small town; biked right through Thornhope blink and you are there and gone. Flat land ride, no hills of any kind. There are benches along the way for you to stop and sit awhile, if you so incline. We stopped at Indian Creek. Next time we will begin at Kenneth and ride to Indian Creek. There are no places to really stop and eat on this part of the trail. What was so great, we were the only two on the trail, really. This part of the trail was well maintained. We did see the DNR guy planting mums :-)Was it worth the 1 hour or so ride from Hobart, YES. FYI, we are a retired couple.
Nice April ride
We rode the trail April 24, 2012. Started at the south trailhead and rode to Indian Creek then back, about 11 miles. Stopped and took some photos of the creeks we crossed along the ride. Very nice paved trail, small shops along the way in Royal Center, Marathon gas station where we stopped for a drink. Overall a very nice ride. On the drive up from Indy we stopped at Wilson Farm Market, 256th and US 31, very nice little Amish Shop. We bought sandwiches there, some jelly, fudge, drinks and breads. The apple dumplings there are VERY GOOD!!! Will stop there again when we do another ride up north.
Watch for the wild turkeys
We did this trail on two different occasions and as we discovered, if you look carefully you can view all kinds of wildlife including turkey, groundhog, chipmunks, swallows, orioles, deer and others.
The terrain in mostly flat or with slight grades and is easy enough for small children and the sedentary.
If you want to grab a bite or a drink I can recommend McGovern's in Royal Center. It is a bar/restaurant suitable for families. Hint: Try the thick and juicy breaded tenderloin sandwich, yum.
The trail offers what Indiana in known for, beautiful landscapes, corn, soybeans, wheat fields.