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Thursday, September 1, 2011

20-mile easy Bloomington bicycle loop (Sept 2011)

This is a fantastic way to circle and experience Bloomington on your bike and you are on paved bike trail about 75% of the time. The whole family could do it together in a morning or afternoon. This ride will only continue to get better as more sections of trails are completed and connected. There's plenty of great scenery, side trips you can take or spots to stop for breaks and refreshments. There's really only about 4 hills that can be challenging if you are a beginning rider but they are short and spread out. We started at Olcott Park on the southeast side of town at the corner of Sare Road and Rhorer Road. Go south out of the park at Jackson Creek Middle School on Sare and take a left on Rhorer heading east up the hill for approximately 1 mile and turn south or right on Harrell Road. Take that for another mile to Schacht Road and turn right or west. Schacht is a gorgeous winding road that you would think was way out in the country but it's so very conveniently close to Bloomington. Continue south for 2 miles until you come to Fairfax Road (you are close to the Bloomington Speedway). Turn right or west on Fairfax and cross Walnut Street which turns into Church Lane. You will go by the old cemetery at Clear Creek Church which is worth taking a quick side trip through on your bike. There are many beautiful old stones on the cemetery grounds and quite a bit of history there. Stay on Church by taking a short jog to the left or south on Rogers and then a quick right back on to Church until you come to the Clear Creek Trail head. It's paved and great for bikes. This is 1 of the best city trails you will find anywhere and it's only going to get better as more connections are finished. You are going north on the trail and there is a turn to the left you need to take just a few hundred yards after you start out. Stay on the trail heading north and you will see a wide variety of people using the trail - other bikers, runners and walkers with dogs. Keep going for a couple of miles crossing (making sure you stop at the stop signs!) Victor Pike, That Road and Rockport Road until you come to Tapp Road. At this point, you need to take Tapp for a few minutes until you can connect with the just finished new section of the B-Line Trail. So head east off the Clear Creek Trail on to Tapp Road. There are 2 hills on Tapp as you go perhaps 2 miles through the round-a-bout, a 4-way stop at Rockport and to a stop light at Rogers. At this point you can get on the north side of the road where there is a wide bike-friendly sidewalk and take that for just a few hundred yards to the B-Line trail head. Go north or left on the B-Line and stay on it all the way through downtown Bloomington. Again, plenty of other users will be on the trail so be careful. This is an amazing city trail that showcases Bloomington like nothing else. You will ride by many incredible public art displays featuring the giant Bloomington Banquet that you can't miss. Stay on the B-Line all the way until it ends at Adams Street. At this point you are back on the road and going to work your way over to Indiana University. Turn right or north on Adams and take that to 11th Street turning right or east. There are a number of ways to do this but we took 11th all the way to Walnut St. to the bike lane and turned north. Keep going to 19th St. and turn right until you come to Dunn St. with Memorial Stadium directly in front of you. That view never gets old! Turn left or north on Dunn in the bike lane until you come to the stop light at 45/46 (the Bypass). Take a right on to the new extra wide bike-friendly paved trail that runs along the south side of the Bypass. Take this for about a mile to 17th Street and turn right. Again, more of this should open soon. Take a very quick left off 17th on to Lingelbach Lane and wind your way through part of campus to Union Street. This is a fun section as you will be on a few old paved campus trails for just a few minutes. Go south on Union to 3rd Street and turn left for 2 blocks until you get to High Street and turn right or south. Stay on High Street for maybe 3 miles going through several stop signs until you come to the round about at Winslow Road where you will enter Sherwood Oaks Park and the back side of Olcott Park on the paved trail. Stay on the trail through the woods and wind your way back to where you started. The entire ride is just over 20 miles and can be done easily in less than 3 hours.

Mike McAfee

Mike McAfee

The Executive Director of Visit Bloomington, Mike blogs primarily about outdoor recreation and live music.