The group charged with managing the Panhandle Pathway — a hiking and biking trail stretching 21 miles from Winamac to near France Park — is seeking to extend the trail.

John Bawcum, President of Friends of the Panhandle Pathway Inc., a nonprofit corporation organized to develop, manage and maintain the pathway, appeared before the Logansport City Council on Feb. 4 to ask for support in extending the Panhandle about three quarters of a mile south to France Park. From there, a connection could be made all the way to Little Turtle Waterway downtown.

The Friends group has been working in recent years to lengthen the Panhandle Pathway to what they call “park-to-park.” The goal is to extend the Panhandle north to Tippecanoe River State Park and south to France Park. 

“We have been working on this vision of park-to-park for the last five years,” Bawcum said. “The first couple years we spent working up the old Pennsylvania Railroad corridor. Now we have been moving on to private land ever since we got into Winamac. The difficult part is working with the private landowners and convincing them to work with us to extend the trail.”

Bawcum says they have been able to extend the trail two miles north into Winamac to SR 14. The next push will be approximately five miles north to the entrance of the Tippecanoe River State Park.

The southern terminus of the trail is currently in Kenneth.

“Right now we are at the trailhead there in Kenneth, which is Cass County Road 50 North,” Bawcum said. “Right there at 50 North the trail stops and goes south under U.S. 24 another half mile, and there’s a turnaround down there at the end. We’re about three quarters of a mile from the entrance of France Park.”

Bawcum says they don’t have far to go to complete their park-to-park vision, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Bawcum also discussed Gov. Eric J Holcomb’s $90 million commitment to trail development in the state of Indiana. He was referencing the governor’s December announcement about the launch of the Next Level Trails Program, which will dedicate funds to connect communities through more hiking, biking and riding trails.

Next Level Trail’s Investment of $90 million is the largest infusion of state trail funding in Indiana history. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Outdoor Recreation will administer the program in conjunction with the Indiana Department of Transportation

According to the DNR, preference will be given to projects that connect multiple cities, towns or counties — projects that connect or extend existing trails and projects that utilize multiple partnerships.

The City of Logansport is looking into the possibility of connecting the Little Turtle Waterway to the Panhandle Pathway Trail via France Park, Georgetown and Wabash Avenue. Although still in the early stages, planners say both entities working together would make for a competitive application.

In order to maximize leverage of state funds, projects funded by the program will require a minimum 20 percent match, which can include monetary contributions, land value and in-kind donations of materials and labor. Applicants are strongly encouraged to maximize multiple financial partnerships in the development of their projects including donations from philanthropic organizations, landowners who donate or sell property for the trail corridor below market value and businesses or volunteer groups willing to contribute materials, equipment or labor to the project.

Bawcum says Friends of the Panhandle will be applying to the program.

“We are working very hard to participate in the program,” Bawcum continued. “It’s a lot of work because in our case we are working to extend the trail on both ends. We are very confident that we’ll get it done, it’s just a matter of when.”

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