“Twisty trail with lots of short, steep, and technical climbs.”
— Nate Hawkins
1. Always yield to horse riders.
2. See sign in Big Oaks parking lot for starting point.
3. Pay attention to mile markers and bridge numbers in case of emergency.
4. Hikers travel the opposite direction of bikes.
5. Trail is CLOSED when muddy, during high water conditions, or during inclement winter weather (but is otherwise open year round).
6. No night riding permitted.
7. Ride at your own risk.
8. Helmets are required.
9. Public display of alcohol is prohibited.
This trail is a gem in east-central Indiana surrounded by farm country. Climbs and descents are short, but there are a lot of them so elevation gain over the course of a loop around the lake can be surprising for this region.
The trail surface alternates between hardpack clay and loose glacial gravel with some sand. There are a lot of roots here and the occasional larger rock. Turns are frequently tight and with the loose conditions, conspire to keep speeds lower than on other Hooser MTB trails.
The Big Blue River Conservancy District advertises this trail as one of the most popular in the state. Don't be deceived. You are unlikely to encounter anywhere near the traffic you might find at Brown County State Park or on any one of the trails in the Indy metro area. You are likely to see more folks on horseback on the short section of well-marked shared use trail than other mountain bikers.
The trail affords nice views of the small reservoir at many different points. Enjoy the views.
Need to Know
At the Big Oaks parking lot, start by following the yellow painted markers on the road (a bike lane with a bike and arrows indicating the direction of travel) to the trailhead that starts to the right of the entrance road. There is a changing room at the parking lot, and a restroom with water across the street.
Mountain bikers follow a counter-clockwise route around the lake. There are more than two dozen numbered bridges along the trail and there are also mile markers to help you find your place and inform park staff if there is an emergency. The phone number for the park is 765-987-1232.
The fee structure for the park in 2013 is as follows:
$2.50 Daily fee per vehicle.
$1 Daily fee for each person, 8 years or older, entering as a pedestrian, on bicycle, as a passenger in a commercial vehicle (e.g. bus) or wagon.
$2 Daily fee per bicycle.
$3.50 Daily boat launch
$25 Annual entrance
$25 Annual bike permit
$30 Annual boat launch permit
Navigating this ride is easy. Signs are plentiful directing you along the way. Bikes just follow the trail counter-clockwise around the lake. The bridges are numbered and there are also mile markers along the trail.
Within the first couple miles, there is a short section of trail shared with horses. There are a ton of signs (probably more than necessary) indicating that bikes should stop and let horses pass by. Be nice, folks. It's a very short distance (you could measure it in yards, really) before the bike trail heads off to the left again.
After that, the bike trail and horse trail cross each other two more times, but do not share space otherwise.
This trail has a lot of short, punchy climbs, which make it unsuitable for new riders. It will be difficult for beginner-intermediate riders, but it is doable. There really aren't any bailout points aside from the road crossing (road heads to the campground) near the end so be sure you're prepared before you head out. Some of the bridges are tricky, also. More than one is rather high above the bottom of the ravine it crosses so it can surprise you a bit. Also, there is a floating bridge at the north end of the lake. It moves when you ride over it.
The east side of the reservoir is a little more open and flowy than the west side. The trail becomes a bit more technical on the west side of the reservoir. It's more twisty and there are more loose sections and rooty, techy climbs.
Unfortunately, there is no swimming permitted at this park. There is neither a pool nor a swimming area in the lake. It's a shame, since it would be nice to cool off after a ride.
History & Background
Westwood Park was opened to the public in 1974 and features a 180 acre lake formed by an earthen dam. The park and lake combined cover approximately 800 acres. The campground is open from May through October and additional details about camping can be found at the park's website (visitwestwood.com/