A series of connecting bike trails along abandoned railroad tracks, roads and the millrace in Goshen have become part of the fabric of the community in recent years as they are a welcome attraction to visitors and residents alike.
“Bike trails are a key factor,” said Goshen resident Ned Kauffman, “to helping us feel connected to Goshen.”
The many miles of trails include the inter-connecting Maple Heart Trail, originally a 5-mile asphalt trail that starts at Hively Avenue in Elkhart and runs along the Norfolk-Southern Railroad, parallel to C.R. 45. In October 2011 it was connected with the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail. The not-for-profit Friends of the Pumpkinvine was formed in 1993 and has been purchasing land along the abandoned Pumpkinvine Railroad in a continued effort to turn the path into linear parks and greenways and donate that land back to local park departments.
The crushed stone trail runs from just west of Shipshewana and enters the city just south of C.R. 28 and runs through Abshire Park and connects with the Maple City Greenway — a network of various bike and pedestrian trails in Goshen. Those trails connect homes, park, schools, the library and downtown.
The Millrace Trail, a 2.75-mile crushed stone trail follows the millrace and connects Shoup-Parsons Woods, Shanklin Park and the Elkhart County Courthouse. There’s a quarter-mile paved trail at Shoup-Parsons Woods, which features a self-guided nature study. The Plymouth Avenue Trail, also a quarter-mile, connects Shanklin Park with Goshen Middle School via a bridge over the Elkhart River. The trail continues along Plymouth Avenue to Greene Road.
This trail is one of the trails that Ned Kauffman advocated for years ago. Kauffman, now a retired veterinarian, has long been a proponent for bicycle and pedestrian trails.
“Bike trails, sidewalks and trees are issues I found myself speaking up for,” Kauffman said. “There’s a feeling of community that comes alive when out on the trails and you meet one another.”
Another reason Kauffman is a supporter of bike trails is because of safety.
“Our young people need to get exercise and if they’re walking, they need a safe place to walk,” he said. “It’s important, too, for those without a license or without access to a motor vehicle to have a safe way to get around town.”
There’s also the Center City Trail — two miles of brick-edged sidewalk linking Goshen College, the Goshen Public Library, Goshen High School, the Elkhart County Courthouse and downtown. The Winona Inter-Urban Trail — a one-mile paved trail — also connects Goshen College with the Greencroft Retirement Center, Bethany Christian High School and Waterford Elementary School.
Kauffman said now that he’s retired he walks everywhere, he and his wife take an exercise walk from West Goshen down to the Millrace Trail using the pedestrian bridge at Shanklin Park. Kauffman is an annual supporter of the Pumpkinvine Trail and is also involved with the Maple City Marathon.
Former Goshen Mayor Mike Puro was an early pioneer of bike trails in Goshen when he requested federal funds to develop trails back in the 1980s. Goshen’s John Yoder has been another key figure in making the trails what they have become.
Their efforts, also with those of Mayor Allan Kauffman’s administration, helped lead to Goshen being designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists for its commitment to promoting bicycling.
The designation places Goshen among 190 communities in 46 states (five in Indiana) for its ability in providing safe accommodation for cycling and for encouraging residents to bike for transportation and recreation, according to information from the Goshen mayor’s office.
Good for business
Another resident who feels the bike trails are a big benefit is Jesse Bontrager, a Goshen College graduate and employee at Lincoln Avenue Cycling and Fitness. Bontrager is originally from Oregon — “a very bike friendly area,” he said.
“It’s great,” he said, “to see the biking culture take off here with the trails.”
He said the development of the trails has been great for business, too.
“We’re a very family-oriented shop and trails like Pumpkinvine are very family oriented,” he said.
While Lincoln Avenue Cycling and Fitness appeals to all types of bicyclists, its general clientele are families looking for hybrid style bikes — in between mountain bikes and road bikes, able to handle the 10 to 15 miles of the Pumpkinvine just fine, according to Bontrager.
He said he’s started to mention the Pumpkinvine and other trails while advising customers and said, “You can tell that’s what they want.”
Bontrager graduated from Goshen College two years ago and said he didn’t get a chance to use the longer trails but often used the Millrace Trail linking the college to downtown. Bontrager said he feels that biking has picked up in the short time he’s been in the area and he credits the trails as a big reason for making Goshen a more bike-friendly town.
“The awareness of biking has grown,” he said.
More trails are planned for the future and to that, Ned Kauffman says, “More power to them.”
Inside today's paper
Each year in February The Goshen News publishes a special progress edition. This year’s edition is inserted in The Goshen News today.
The theme of this year’s progress edition, as it has been the past couple years, is “Who We Are.” It includes articles and profiles we feel capture the spirit of who we are as a community.