Indiana Trails: A Worthy Quarry in France Park
As a Logansport native, I spent much of my formative years at the expansive France Park, camping, swimming, and trying to look cool in front of the ladies. It wasn’t until I ventured to Ball State in the early 1990s, though, that mountain-biking really took off at the Northern Indiana recreation spot.
France Park, however, eventually got stuck in a rut. Trails that once seemed fast and exciting to hundreds of mountain-bike noobs were rendered tame and boring over the ensuing years as other parks across the state began building their own singletrack. France Park’s mountain-bike glory days seemed to be over.
That is, until the past few years, when Doing INdiana Off-road (DINO) race organizer Brian Holzhausen, park staff, and volunteers began to drag the trails into the 21st century. A longer, more manageable descent replaced a terrifyingly steep downhill. And a technical climb flanked by limestone cliffs and dense tree cover took the place of a much-too-difficult uphill hike-a-bike section.
The best way to navigate the trails, I’ve found, is by following the DINO race route, a map of which can be found at dinoseries.com. Trail markings are virtually nonexistent, so print out the map beforehand or ask for one at the gate. Even with map in hand, be prepared to do some wandering; luckily, the park is fairly small, so it’s impossible to get too lost. Despite volunteers’ efforts, few sections are truly challenging, making the route an ideal place to really open it up and get in some fast laps.
Pedaling up to the edge of the limestone cliffs, though, offered me the perfect time to slow down a bit. Below, a crystal-blue vision of the Old Kenneth Quarry opened up, with large shadows moving in the water. Reaching up to seven feet long and 160 pounds, these massive paddlefish look fearsome but are actually very gentle creatures. Bald eagles, too, pass through the park, so stash a pair of binoculars in your hydration pack in case you’re lucky enough to catch a glimpse.
We Endorse: DINO Race Course
5 miles / Moderate
» Don’t Forget Your swimsuit for the clear-as-glass quarry lake.
» Getting There Take U.S. 421 N to S.R. 29, and then take the U.S. 24 Logansport Bypass. francepark.com
Fido allowed—and can manage the trail
Park entry fee ($5, typically)