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The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail covers just over 17 miles between the towns of Goshen, Middlebury, and Shipshewana. The railroad line between Goshen and Middlebury served as a popular passenger and mail service route at the turn of the 20th century. Because of its numerous curves and turns, the railroad received its “pumpkin vine” nickname. All service on the line ended in 1980, and the Friends of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail acquired the corridor in 1993.
This premier rail-trail offers an incredible scenic landscape and a step back in time with sights from Indiana’s large Amish communities in Goshen, Middlebury, and Shipshewana. Glimpses of Amish people tending fields with horse-drawn plows, hand-cutting fields of flowers, biking down the trail in old-fashioned clothing, and riding in buggies offer a unique experience. The trail itself is well maintained and includes mile markers. The route is paved, with the exception of a short section of crushed limestone on the leg between Goshen and Middlebury.
The path begins in downtown Goshen, close to the existing active rail line, and seamlessly connects at North Fifth Street to Wilden Avenue Trail, which runs west 3.2 miles and connects to the MapleHeart Trail, which goes all the way into Elkhart.
As you head east out of Goshen, interpretive signage explains the railroad history of the area through which you’re traveling. A restored railroad viaduct carries you across a small creek and into a quaint neighborhood. A second bridge, equally well preserved, is a short distance ahead. After the trail crosses IN 4 at a crosswalk, it immediately rolls into a wooded area on its way to Abshire Park, which makes for a nice rest area. When the path crosses IN 4 again, the surface changes to hard-packed crushed limestone for 1.75 miles to County Road 28.
At milepost 5, from CR 33 stretching to CR 35, there is a 1.7-mile on-road segment. This hilly stretch of road has limited vehicular traffic. The remaining miles toward Middlebury are beautiful, enveloped in a thick forest of maple and oak trees. More than 30 species of wildflowers bloom along the trail in spring.
In Middlebury, the route runs north through a tunnel under US 20 and runs behind businesses along Main Street as it approaches spectacular Krider World’s Fair Garden, a replica of a world’s fair exhibit that ran 1933–1934. This lovely trailhead includes a pavilion and picnic tables, bike rack, and signage. Leaving the gardens, you pass over a 160-foot wooden trestle across the Little Elkhart River before reaching Main Street, where you cross the road and follow the sidewalk north (left) for a short while to reconnect with the trail on your right.
In Middlebury, travelers can also connect to either the Ridge Run Trail or the Wayne Avenue Trail to reach a popular attraction called the Das Dutchman Essenhaus, which has an Amish-style inn, restaurant, and shops.
The remaining 5 miles of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail to Shipshewana can only be described as breathtaking. You’ll enjoy the wooded tree canopy with glimpses of farms beyond; horses are nose to nose with you along the trail, and rustic barns complement the scenery. This remarkable experience is one for the bucket list.
Extend your stay and visit one of the Midwest’s largest auctions and flea markets in Shipshewana, open May through September.
To access the Goshen trailhead from I-80, take Exit 96, and head south on County Road 17. In 8.7 miles turn right to stay on CR 17, go 0.2 mile, and turn right onto CR 45, which becomes W. Wilden Ave. In 2.6 miles turn right onto N. Fifth St. Go 0.4 mile to reach the trailhead just after crossing Crescent St.
To access the Middlebury trailhead at Krider World’s Fair Garden, from I-90 take Exit 107, and head south on IN 13. Go 5.3 miles, and turn right onto Pleasant St. Go 600 yards and turn right onto Bristol Ave. Take an immediate right onto the access road to the parking lot for Krider World’s Fair Garden.
As part of an awareness event I was doing in Elkhart County, I completed the entire Pumpkinvine Nature Trail in my wheelchair in one day. As has been noted, this is a remarkably beautiful trail that nicely captures Elkhart County including Elkhart, Goshen, Middlebury, and Shipshewana.
The local Amish community, which has a high population here, frequently uses the trail on their bikes. While I've heard from some locals that they're stand-offish, I found them to be absolutely delightful.
The trail is mostly rural, though Elkhart and Goshen are decently populated areas and the trail itself is so popular that you will likely run into some people along the way.
As a wheelchair user, I made it from beginning to end without too much problem. There's about a 1.75 mile section north of Goshen that goes from asphalt to packed limestone and involves some country road travel. It's definitely passable in a wheelchair, but a little more challenging.
You could easily make a weekend of the trail - start in Elkhart and end up in Shipshewana where there's some great country shopping and a couple nice Amish-style hotels.
If I were to recommend an Indiana trail, Pumpkinvine would be near the top of the list. However, be aware that Elkhart County is impacted by lake effects during the winter. This trail is probably best to enjoy during spring/summer and early fall.
My wife and I are in our late 60's and we have been riding rails to trails all over the country. This trail is as good as we have ever ridden. It was an easy ride and very little elevation change. A perfect blend of shaded canopy and open farm lands. The scenery is fantastic. The Amish farms on the trail have so many horses and the occasional Amish horse and buggy just adds to the ambiance. We are coming back in the fall for sure.
We drove to the western terminus of the trail in Shipshewana, Indiana to begin our ride. The Pumpkinvine website recommends parking near the Pak-A-Sak convenience store/Marathon gas station, where there is plenty of parking for tourists in a large lot. The half mile ride on county road W 250 N to the beginning of the trail worried us; however, a paved Amish buggy lane is provided on both sides of the W 250 N outside of town, and we felt very safe on the road. It's essentially an Amish style 4 lanes wide "highway," with speed limited to 40 m.p.h.
We were also concerned about crossing State Route 13 in Middlebury; however, an excellent traffic light with crosswalk signals is installed, and we felt perfectly comfortable traversing the busy motorway with our children. And an underpass at US Route 20 eliminates any encounters with that road's heavy truck traffic.
Interestingly, we observed two advertisements directed to travelers on the trail, one listing a house for sale, another advertising stud services for a stallion with his pedigree listed. It is evident that this trail is handy and practical for local residents, which makes it even more enjoyable for a visitor.
I've ridden only a short part of this trail starting in Shipshewana over to Goshen several times and this section is a magical ride.
Smooth paved, flat and away from any main roads, it takes you through the heart of Amish countryside.
You come across a number of Amish and everyday riders and walkers and several times I've passed workers in the fields or kids in the gardens who are all pleasant and friendly.
Highly recommended if you are visiting the area!
I rode this trail on a nice but pretty warm Saturday. There were not many people on it on the stretch where I rode, from Goshen to where you have to ride on the highway for a bit. Mostly paved(at least this portion), but starting from Goshen it was crushed stone for a while. The portion where you ride in wide open space with corn fields on both sides of you is spectacular. What I noticed more than anything throughout was how peacefully quiet it was. And in addition to seeing Amish/Mennonite(?) people and residences along the route, I did see those types using the trail also.
This is a great trail! Goshen to Middlebury to Shipshewana - 17 miles. It's in great condition, very little traffic (if any) to contend with and I loved the countryside with the horses, cows and bison along the pathway. Krider Gardens in Middlebury was a nice side excursion. All the people along the trail were very friendly especially the Amish folk. The Amish folk we passed all had great big smiles and greeted us hello. Shipshewana was a nice quaint town to explore and have some ice cream before heading back to Goshen. I can't wait to ride this trail again - hopefully in the Fall!
To start, I had someone tell me about the trail I'm always looking for something new.. Goggle got us to the Middlebury trail head. We rode to Shipshewana IN first, This was on a Sunday, nobody around the town was closed... its was great we could see all the little shops and no cars. Rode back to the trail head filled are water and we had our first 10 miles in. next stop Goshen 13 mile one-way... This trail is so well groomed with grass and wild flowers it was just a beautiful ride.. there were some hills for a little challenge, nothing to hard for the those who just want to relax. The fields where full of corn had to be the tallest corn I have ever seen... and being Sunday the Amish kids in there Sunday best was a real joy to see.. everyone smiles and say hi as you go... Goshen had a 4H parade when we where there, reminded me of my home town in the 60's.. small town USA.. made me smile just seeing it... I hope you all get a chance to visit.. and the Bison are real.. Enjoy
I lived near the trail before I moved to the Cincinnati area. I made modest contributions during it's construction. I rode many miles on the road around the area and knew that this would turn out to be the spectacular trail that it is today. There is much to appreciate about the towns it goes through and the beauty of the area. Don't leave the area without enjoying an meal at one of the country restaurants.
I ride this trail from Shipshe to CR 35 and back frequently and I never grow tired of the scenery. It calms me as I ride. I feel the stress of the day flow out of me. I especially enjoy seeing the TIKI faces that someone is carving into different selected trees. I think it gives this trail a bit of unique character. I thank God we have people who cared enough to give us this beautiful trail. So "Get off line and Ride the Vine"
My wife & I (tandem) drove up from Warsaw, IN with our son & his family (tandem with kid trailer) to ride this trail on a Saturday in October. The weather was sunny & warm. We started at Abshire Park just east of downtown Goshen and rode to Middlebury. The section from Abshire, east to CR28, is dirt. However, the surface is packed well enough for roadies to ride with confidence. The rest of the trip to Middlebury is paved. The section starting from CR33 (milepost 5.0) is on-road and goes for about 1.7 miles. There are trail signs to guide you down the 3 roads (CR33, CR20, & CR35) to the next section. There is a "trail side" bike shop at MP 5/CR33. We didn't stop in ... only saw the sign. The on-road section is on local roads so it isn't very busy, but there are large trucks that use it occasionally and wouldn't be good for kids that aren't trained for on-road riding; but it's fine for adults that are used to it. There is a short tunnel that passes under RT-20 - a major thoroughfare just south of Middlebury.
We definitely will come back (probably in the Spring) to ride it again ... probably to Shipshewana.
Great time and a smooth ride. Reading the other reviews I decided to make the drive from Valparaiso to Goshen. My time spent driving was rewarded by a great ride with the trail being well marked and very well maintained. The first couple of miles of the trail is crusted stone but in good shape. The rest is pave with a small section connected by country roads. All very well marked. Traveling through the Amish countryside was a plus. Many turns and levels changes added to the fun.None of it to difficult for anyone to complete. I definitely recommend this trail. It was a pleasant surprise.
My wife and I spent our 39th anniversary riding the trail. We have ridden a majority of the rails to trails hall of fame and this was an excellent trail. We started in Shipshewana amd went through Middelbury to Goshen for lunch.
It is a nice mix of tree canopies with open Indiana farmland. On a Saturday there were many Amish families on the trail. Mostly great surface, port-a-potties at several locations and amenities less than 10 miles away wherever you were,includig a bike shop in the coutry. On a weekday I think you could really ride aggressively but Saturday was busy with traffic. Just a reminder, be respectful of the Amish who are friendly but may not want their picture taken. ( we didn't try.)
Took our first (of many) rides on the Pumpkinvine yesterday (Aug 2, 2014). My wife and I have ridden most of the Rails2Trails in the area and this one...by far...is the best. Halfway through the ride, my wife says "I want to ride this trail every weekend. EVERY weekend." Don't get me wrong. We love all the Rails2Trails. But this one is so scenic. Lots of twists and turns. Wooded in spots. Wide open in others. Several elevation changes. Just awesome. Hope to see you on the Pumpkinvine next weekend!
Rode the trail yesterday, starting in Middlebury. It was about forty degrees and sunny. First rode to Shipshe and then part way to Goshen. Turned around where one must travel about two miles on a county road. Have been riding in the area for a long time and but for the time, had some other things to do, would have continued to Goshen. The short section on the county road is not a problem as there is so much buggy and bicycle traffic that folks are used to sharing the road. This was my first ride since the section from the tunnel under US 20 to downtown Middlebury was completed. I saw two Amish families and two bikers during the ride. This time of year is very quiet. The sunny day meant the fall leaves were visible along the route.
This trail doesn't have any scenic waterways, obviously no dramatic mountains and not even impressive trestles. Yet, it is one of the prettiest rides you'd want. There are just enough gentle inclines to give variety and provide vistas of traditional Hoosier farms, many of which are Amish.
A blue sky above red and white barns, offered a patriotic treat of stepping back in time. Correctly named a "Nature" trail, the summer wildflowers just completed the image.
The trail is now open from Shipshewana to Goshen. In Shipshewana, you can park downtown and ride on the street for the mile or so to the trailhead. The section from Shipshewana to Middlebury has about an 85% tree canopy covering. The ride is beautiful, as it traverses Amish farm country. At Middlebury, the trail crosses a state highway, runs through a small park (with a Quilt Garden in the summer), through town, and then back into the country. The 1.5 mile of road riding is less than optimal (country roads with quite a bit of traffic). Then, it's back into mostly wooded terrain (a short stretch in the open countryside), and ending in Goshen. Great trail!
Had a great time riding from Goshen to Shipsi. Stopping in Middleberry at the Pumpkinvine Oasis to have ice cream was the perfect break in the ride.
We moved away from the area 2 years ago before it was opened. We came back to try it out as we were so looking forward to it. There is still minor finishing but it is great. The area is a wonderful place to tour around on bike or car. Rual Amish farm settings. Shipsiwana and Middlebury have great places to eat comfort food and the best pies you can find anywhere. On Sundays biking around the country roads nearby is very nice as there is little traffic but most resturants are closed.
At the farm on the southwest corner of 1100 W and the Pumpkinvine, there are seven camels that are often out grazzing in the field. I'm told that the farmer is raising them for their milk. The parking lot at CR 43 east of Middlebury now has a gravel surface, a map, bench and a trash container.
This section of the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail opened in Sept. 2011. In Middlebury, you can park at the Town Hall just north of the Dairy Queen. Enter the trail from the DQ parking lost. Due to complications with crossing State Road 4, there is a 337 foot gap from the DQ parking lot to the trail. You can ride or walk the path through the woods from the parking lot to the trail -- no big deal. From there the 10-foot trail travels east in a mostly shaded corridor. There is a rest room at CR 43 and also a parking lot there. The trail is used heavily by local Amish families. It is a great way to see working farms, cattle, horses and at County Road 850W camels. The trail on the east end stops at County Road 850W, about .5 miles from the center of Shipshewana. (They are working to find an off-road route downtown.) You can take County Road 250 N into down. It has a wide shoulder for most of the way. Places to park in Shipshewana include the Wolf building and Town Center. Do not park across the street from the trail's end at 850W (Ed's Supply) unless you want your car towed.
The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail begins at the south end on State Road 4 on Goshen's east side. The first 1.75 miles are crushed limestone and the next 3.3 miles is asphalt. The trail is tree lined and shady in the limestone section and a mixture of trees and open areas in the asphalt section, giving a variety of view and shade. There are many wildflowers in bloom in season between CR 31 and CR 33. Altogether, a delightful trail. In the summer of 2011, the trail will be completed between CR 850W west of Shipshewana and CR 43 east of Middlebury.
"I can attest that from Goshen this is a great start to a great idea. It's been around for many years but it looks like things are finally taking off. Goshen is a great city for bikers with the greenway, this only adds to the current trail system"
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