By Sarah Wright Staff Writer
The Syracuse-Wawasee Trail — 11 miles in length — affords the perfect opportunity to explore Syracuse and its surrounding areas. A 5-mile portion of the trail snakes around Syracuse Lake, offering wooded sections and, of course, alluring views of the lake itself.
The trail has also started around the north side of Lake Wawasee with additional extensions proposed so that the trail will fully wrap around the lake. Beyond the trails installed by the Syracuse-Wawasee Trail, there are connections to the cross-country trails at Wawasee High School, trails on Oakwood’s property and trails on some WACF properties.
“We hope to connect in to more trails at Brook Pointe (Inn) and the Levinson-LaBrosse Lakes and Wetlands Education Center (located on the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation’s SR 13 property) soon,” Megan McClellan, executive director of Syracuse-Wawasee Trail, said.
These connections, soon to grow, bring value to the community, especially as bicycle use grows in the U.S. For instance, from 2010 to 2015, Americans riding increased 4 percent, from 42,000 in 2010 to 43,000 in 2015, according to Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. Other benefits are economic and health related.
McClellan said, “The main goal of the trails is to allow members of the community to connect with each other and to community resources (schools, community center, athletics complex, library, etc.) in a safe, active way.” To further that mission, the trail committee is installing a trail parallel to Dairy Queen and a crosswalk across SR 13 this spring, with the Indiana Department of Transportation installing a pedestrian light.
“We will also be making some repairs on the Syracuse Lake loop.” She added, “We will be working with the school corporation on a trail to the new Syracuse Elementary School and are in the early planning stages of a trail along Syracuse-Webster Road from the high school to Brook Pointe.”
A major trail project that will improve the public’s access to Lake Wawasee — while also connecting into WACF’s trail system — will be the Conklin Bay Boardwalk and Trail. Its design has been complete and all permits are in place. All that remains is to raise enough funds to begin construction.
“We have an active challenge grant from the Dekko Foundation that will math all donations from individuals and businesses up to $100,000,” McClellan said. “If we meet this match, we will be less than $400,000 shy of the $1.7 million price tag.”
As for its goal connecting people, Syracuse-Wawasee Trail hosts a variety of events with Tour des Lakes bike ride being its headliner that draws cyclists from all over the area. Registration is open for the eighth annual bike ride, which occurs July 8.
“There are three ride lengths: 25K, 50K and 100K,” McClellan said of Tour des Lakes. “There is also a family-friendly ‘Tour des Parks,’ a BMX show and food trucks. Everything starts at the community center. See www.tourdeslakes.com for more information and to register.”
Other summer activities include a trail walk followed by advanced chair yoga every Wednesday, now to June 21. The group meets at noon at the Syracuse Public Library.
The trail also has two fundraisers planned in August: the Oakwood Car Show, Aug. 6, and a benefit concert featuring James and the Drifters, Aug. 19.
For information, visit www.syracusewawaseetrails.com. Also, “like” Syracuse-Wawasee Trail on Facebook.