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The Big 4 Rail Trail is a developing trail route across Boone County that will one day span 50 miles. Currently, two disconnected segments of the rail-trail are open. The name is a reference to the Big Four Railroad, which began serving the region in 1852. In 1861, Abraham Lincoln traveled this route on his way to his presidential inauguration.
This section of the Big 4 Trail—previously known as the Farm Heritage Trail—runs from Lebanon to Thorntown through a canopy of Indiana hardwoods, fields of corn and soybeans, and, at its northern end, passes over the scenic Sugar Creek on an iron bridge.
The short portion extending north of Thorntown, which is occasionally referred to as the Keewasakee Trail, is paved. Currently, an equestrian path begins at Serum Plant Road, just south of Thorntown, and parallels the trail for 4 miles with more horse-friendly segments to come.
Future plans also include extending the trail south to a connection with the Big 4 Rail Trail in Zionsville.
The trailhead in Lebanon is located off of Sam Ralston Road. You can reach this trailhead by exiting Interstate 65 at State Route 32 and heading east. Sam Ralston Road is the first cross street; take it north past the Denny's restaurant for 0.5 mile to reach the trail.
The northern section of the Big 4 Trail can be accessed in the town of Thorntown. Parking is available at Lions Club Park just north of Main Street. The adjacent equestrian trail can be accessed off of Hazelrigg Road just south of Thorntown.
The canopy of hardwoods, the beauty of farmland and the peace of solitude all await you here. Probably need something bigger than 23mm tires though.
I rode this trail end to end on a fat tire bike and it was a little slice of heaven.
Overall a nice peaceful trail
Went for a 10 mile ride (5 out and back) starting at Lebanon trail head behind Menards. First 2.5 miles are newly paved and we'll maintained, after that I would recommend off road bike. My remaining 2.5 miles traveling north were a mix of old grumbles of asphalt,fine limestone, and grass. One small section about a city block long was deep small stone, the kind that doesn't compact and you just sink in. That all being said it was a nice ride with typical Indiana flat land views of fields.
I would not recommend this trail for road bikes. With a mountain bike or all-terrain tires you might be fine. If you start at Thorntown and head south, just after you pass the bridge the trail turns into very rough pavement and gravel, not crushed stone. The trail is in definite need of rehabilitation for road bike use. I have not attempted starting at the Lebanon end of the trail, so I don't know how conditions are closer to that town.
Rode 5 miles north and back from Lebanon trail head behind Menards on a recent evening. While not a perfectly smooth hard paved trail, we enjoyed the quiet peaceful ride through a mostly wooded area with fields on either side. A neat experience to think that we were riding the same corridor where Abraham Lincoln traveled by train so many years ago. You do need to keep an eye out for bumps and occasional branches, but since there were no other bikers on the trail while we were there, it was not hard to do that. And don't miss the good ice cream at the little stand as you leave the access road.Sorry, I forget the name, but the ice cream was memorable! A lovely ride with family!
The entry to the trail under the I-65 overpass in Lebanon is now open!
This is a peaceful trail, with beautiful, rural scenery the entire way. We really enjoyed the ride from Lebanon to Thorntown and back and stopped at the delightful little rest area provided by the Boone County Solid Waste District along the way.
The trail is definitely rough and rocky in places, but we navigated it easily with a mountain bike and a street bike. The grass on each side had just been mown, but there were quite a few branches down on the trail from the two raging storms the previous week. Some nearly blocked the path. The storms were so recent, though, that I think it's reasonable that the 9-mile path had not been yet cleared.
We found one thing confusing. The map in Thorntown references an equestrian trailhead, and there is a sign at one point marking an equestrian entry. Yet, there are signs on each side of every crossing indicating that no horseback riding is allowed. I think it needs to be stated more clearly on the signage what the policy is.
We were on the trail from 1:30 to about 5 p.m. on a Sunday, and we didn't see anyone else until we were almost back to our car at the Menard's trailhead. The solitude was nice, but I'd like to see more people take advantage of this lovely ride!
The trail has needed a lot a care done to it. pavement is falling apart grass growing in middle of the trail grass only cut when it so high it's needed a brush hog.
I feel this trail is in a declining state. Weeds are beginning to take over the trail. At one point just south of the granary there is a branch hanging down towards the trail that I could easily hit with my head. I almost reached up to touch it and just in time realized it was poison ivy. I am concerned at the decline. I enjoy walking as well as riding my bicycle on trails and hate to see this. Is there someway to improve the state of this trail? Also is there a way to get the "Danger Trail Closed" sign removed at Sam Ralston in Lebanon or get it reopened.
I enjoyed this trail but it had some rough spots. It is hard to get to on the Lebanon end. But, if you locate dead end road (really that's it's name) there is a small "trail head" where you might be comfortable parking. The trail is closed under I-65. So, starting in Thorntown is the better idea. It's a little rough and some spots are dangerously soft. Be ready for them and you'll be fine. I would not take a pure road bike on this trail. If you have moderately wide tires you'll be fine. Watch especially around the cell tower closer to Thorntown. Flat trail.
Frustrating. Arrived at trailhead in Lebanon only to see that the trail is closed.
Trail head in Lebanon is just east of I-65 north of SR 32 on Sam Ralston Rd and just north of the Menards. If travelling on the east bound lane of SR32 you need to go several blocks east and make a U turn to go back west so you can access Sam Ralston.
The trail is well maintained, mostly packed crushed rocks, very little loose gravel. Took us about 70 minutes from Lebanon to Thorntown.
When arriving on main street in Thorntown go north another block on Pearl St and the trail picks up again, paved now, and continues north less than 1 mile to Sugar Creek.
The Stookeys restaurant in Thorntown is nice!
Good parking off Sam Palston Rd in Lebanon. Good trail between there and Thorntown. Gravel mostly- asphalt in Thorntown. Mostly shaded/tree lined path. NOT as good for full road bikes! About 8.5 miles. Enjoyable ride!
Returning to trail after a automobile accident 3 years ago I can no longer walk due to my injuries but biking is it for me. My goals now after 3 years of learning to stand, walk ,etc, is to bike to Thorntown, have lunch and return to Lebanon , this past week I found the trail to Hazlerigg in bad shape compared to 3 years ago has all interest in trail fell through ? Looking forward to a better trail for bike riding in the future .
Shaded,, with a mix of asphalt and gravel, maintain in ok condition, great for mountain bike, cyclocross bike or detent bike... no for a full road bike.
Had a great time!
Runners and joggers using this trail will find it a nice change of pace from the traditional pavement runs like the monon. It is a nice balance between true trail running and city trails. Some work on getting parking even if it's small couple car gravel lots would be useful and some trees or fencing to separate from some rural homes would also be useful.
I also find it a great trail (although prohibited) to allow your running dog able to stretch their legs ahead of you as it is rarely crowded or dangerous, but picking up after them is difficult as no trash cans or stations are on this trail.
The day was perfect temperature and the trail was pretty well taken care of. Trail was mostly in between trees. Surface was not the best, the rock they used on trail does not compress like crushed limestone but rather stays loose and therefore like a typical gravel road you need to be careful, and of course there is a drag on tires when loose. Had difficulty finding the trailhead, direction on site were not explicite. We found it next to the large granery in town and parked in their lot. We decided the sheriff is the best resource for finding country trails, they know where everything is located.
I biked this trail from Thorntown South to Lebanon Sept 2012. It was a beautiful ride and we only encountered two others on the trail the entire day, even though it was a nice day. The only problem we had was finding the trailhead in Thorntown. We got mixed directions from the locals. One lady directed us North where we did find the trail, but it quickly ended in gravel, grass and limestone. It was not developed and I wouldn't suggest even trying it, unless you want to risk a flat tire. We finally found the trail South by biking past the grain elevators and through a community garden area. It would be ridiculously helpful to have a couple of trail markers in the public parking areas for those of us coming from out of town. Once we finally found the trail it was a great ride down to Lebanon. We turned around near the construction and returned. Pack snacks though as this trail is barren of any towns or areas with restaurants. Only in Thorntown or Lebanon.
Trail is only 1/4 of a mile from my home and very convenient. The Trail is clean and well maintained in it's natural setting.
The I-65 bridge that runs over the trail is under construction. If you want to ride most of the trail, it is best to start in Thorntown. The bridge work should be done by the end of November 2012. The horse part of it starts off of Serum Plant Road. The horses have their own trail. I think it only goes a mile or so. I would also like to add, this may not be a trail for road race bikes. A tire with some width to it works best on limestone.
Rode the trail today, March 20th 2012 started at the Lebanon Trailhead and rode the trail up to Thorntown. The trail has a lot of small gravel, cinder type surface, which makes it a little difficult to ride if you are not used to it. We stopped and ate at the Stookey's Restaurant in Thorntown, the food was very good. Not much in Thorntown, a small IGA and a few places to eat. Not much scenery along the way, we did see a dog, a couple of squirrels though. Otherwise kinda dull ride, 10 miles each way.
At the lebanon IN trail head there is a sign which forbids horses on the trail yet it is listed here as a horse accessible trail. do you have to access the trail at another location in order to ride horses? I live in Lebanon with 3 horses and would love to use this trail
I was going to have my wife hit the trail with me, but thought I should check it out first. The gravel parking lot at the trail head is easy to enter and exit, with room for over half a dozen vehicles. Once on the trail you head northwesterly on fine crushed stone on what looked like chip & seal. The trail has great tree coverage in the before 10:00 am of at least 75% shade. There are small railroad markers telling you what mile on the trail you are. The road crossings are well marked as are the stops before each crossing. Most of the roads the trail crosses are gravel of larger size than the trail. As you hit past the halfway point and cross another road, the trail heads to the right off the original trail due to a house that is now on there. As you pass the cellphone tower, becareful for the deeper gravel and less packing beneath. The mile before Thorntown is nicely paved and there is a new metal bridge taking you over a local road. The trail ends as you come upon the Sugar Creek Art Gallery (nice place to visit). At Thorntown you have a great restaurant, Stokey's for great catfish! If you go just three blocks ahead of where trail ends, you can pick up the trail again with a new name and travel to Sugar Creek. There the pavement ends and you have undeveloped trail into dense tree covered trail. From Lebanon to Thorntown and back is a easy quiet ride. If the local restaurants thought about it, they could start a discount for those using the trail. Stokey's at Thorntown and Trackside (in the old railroad station on SR 32) in Lebanon, both could profit from people using this one!
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