Mountain Biking in Fort Wayne

Mountain Biking in Fort Wayne

Indiana’s mountain bike trails are better than most people realize or expect!

Morsches Park

Morsches Park, in Columbia City, Indiana, is just a short drive from Fort Wayne and also offers nearly 10 miles of mountain bike trails. The trails are just off of Highway 30, so are easy to access, and the park also hosts a playground and paved trails for non-riders to enjoy. Unlike Franke Park, the Morsches Park trails are not “leveled,” but  are fun for beginners and advanced riders alike. Current trail information can be found on Instagram at @morschesparkmtb. 

Winona Lake Trails

Just a bit further from Fort Wayne are the Winona Lake Trails in Winona Lake, Indiana. These trails wind around the paved Heritage Greenway trails and offer a wide variety of off-road trails for all levels of rider. The sandy green trails are fast and flowy and the black trails challenge riders with steep, twisting climbs. The nearby Winona Lake Village is a great place to relax after a day of riding, with restaurants and shops for everyone. Trail information is located at https://winonalaketrails.com/ or on Facebook at Winona Lake Trails. 

DTE Energy Foundation Trail

These are by far my favorite trails in the area, and are constantly evolving and growing. As a part of the Michigan Parks and Recreation system, they do require a day (or yearly!) pass for entry, but is is worth both the fee and the 2.5 hour drive from Fort Wayne to Chelsea, Michigan. The DTE Energy Foundation Trail currently boasts 21 miles of built flow trails, all rideable by a beginner, but fun and challenging for advanced riders as well. The trails are bi-directional, so run clockwise on certain days of the week and counter-clockwise on other days, meaning that there are effectively twice as many trails to ride. Information on the trails is available at https://dtetrail.org/, with up-to-date trail closure information on Facebook at DTE Energy Foundation Trail. 

Potawatomi Trail

For a bit of old-school backcountry-style mountain biking, head up to the Potowatomi Trail in Pinckney, Michigan. Like the DTE Energy Foundation Trail, the park requires a Michigan Recreation Pass to enter. The trail is a 17-mile loop, and within about 15 minutes of the DTE Energy Trails if you’re looking for a full-day of riding. The trail is probably best for intermediate riders, though there are no technical features that a beginner couldn’t ride. It is not as smooth as the more modern “built” trails, but has the standard rocks and roots of traditional mountain bike trails, plus plenty of climbing for anyone looking to gain fitness. More information is available on the Pinckney State Recreation Area page on Facebook.

Franke Park

Franke Park, located just behind the Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo, is home to around 10 miles of multi-use trails. The trails range in difficulty from the green beginner trails to the more challenging yellow and red trails. The park is open year-round, though, like most other mountain bike trails, is closed when weather conditions cause the trails to be muddy, as use during those times damages the trails. Up to date trail conditions can typically be found in the “Franke Park MTB” group on Facebook. 



Franke Park in Fort Wayne has some great trails for mountain biking!

Fort Custer

Also in Michigan, the Fort Custer Recreation Area trails are a great destination for riding (and also require a Michigan Recreation Pass). Just over 2 hours drive from Fort Wayne, the August, Michigan trails include three separate loops. The yellow trail is an easy, moderately flat, loop. The red trail is flowier, with more climbing and technical features. The green trail is a fun mix of the two others, with a bit of climbing and some technical features, but not as much as the red loop. Combined, the three trails are around 20 miles. 

Prairie Creek Trails

A newer trail system within easy driving distance from Fort Wayne, the Prairie Creek Trails are located just outside of Muncie, Indiana. They are growing quickly with the help of a number of dedicated volunteers and host weeknight group rides during the summer months. Information is available at https://prairiecreektrails.wordpress.com/ or on the Prairie Creek Trails Facebook page.

 Indianapolis Trails: Fort Harrison, Southwestway Park, Town Run

Indianapolis is home to several mountain bike trails. Each park has unique features. The Fort Harrison Trails are located at Fort Harrison State Park (you do need a State Park day or annual pass to enter) and are similar in style to some of the trails at Brown County State Park. Information on the trails is located in the “Fort Harrison Mountain Bike Trails HMBA” group on Facebook. The Town Run Trails and Southwestway Park Trails are both city parks with no use fee. Town Run Trail is about 6.6 miles of fast and looping trails just off of 96th street. Trail information is located on “Town Run Trail-Indianapolis” on Facebook. Southwestway Park is on the southwest side of Indianapolis and has a surprising amount of elevation change. It is a multi-use trail, but includes a fun flowy section, as well as some rooted technical trails. Up to date trail information for all users is at “Southwestway Park Trail Users” on Facebook.

Brown County

Brown County State Park is the furthest trail from Fort Wayne on this list, but also widely considered the mecca of Indiana mountain biking. Located in Nashville, Indiana, Brown County has a wide variety of trails, including built flow trails like Hobbs Hollow and the brand new Weedpatch, beginner friendly trails like Pine Loop, and challenging technical trails like Bobcat, Walnut, and the notorious Schooner Trail. As a state park, it does require a day pass to enter, but has fun and trails enough to make the drive and the park fee worthwhile. The most current trail information can be found at “Brown County Mountain Biking” on Facebook. 




Hesitation Point at Brown County State Park

There are certainly other trails within a 2-3 hour radius of Fort Wayne that I’ve failed to mention, such as Rangeline in Anderson, Indiana, Potato Creek State Park in South Bend, Indiana, and others. While northeast Indiana may not be a destination for mountain biking, there are trails enough to keep most riders busy every weekend all summer long–with variety and challenge for all levels of riders. 

Do you have a favorite bike trail to share? Please let us now here!

13 Kids Keeps Me Running

13 Kids Keeps Me Running

Primarily it keeps me running around all day in the car!  However, in order to keep me somewhat out of looneyville, I try to rise early every morning, slip on my shoes and head out for my daily run. I only began running several years ago…and I started with itty bitty baby steps!

In 2017 I was new runner, 9 months into the sport and having only run one race. My daughter Hannah asked me to run the Atlanta Peachtree 10k on the Fourth of July when she heard I had began running. No sooner had I finished that race when I signed up for the Fort4fitness 10k with my daughter Emily.

As we entered race week, something came up and Emily was unable to do the race, so Natalie willingly jumped into her place-having never gone over 3 miles before. We also ran with my son-in-law, Joseph, and daughter Mary. I look back over my timing then and my timing now and am awed and amazed at what the body can do with training. God has truly given us incredible bodies.

My 2nd year at the Fort4Fitness fall festival I had my sights set on the half marathon in hopes of improving my half marathon time from the IndyMini half marathon in May of the same year. Daughters Hannah and Mary, along with my training partner Tim, agreed to pace me to beat my previous time. I did indeed beat that time and had a beautiful race day as well. Hannah was champ pushing me on for the last 2 miles when it became very hard. This was especially kind, since she had not trained at all for this race outside of her normal weight training/CrossFit workouts

For the race this fall, I went back down to the 10k so my son, Isaiah could get a longer race in. As always, the downtown race course was great, peppered with a multitude of friendly runners and volunteers. Different groups cheer you on and play music along the route and the energy is terrific!

To finish the race, you enter Parkview stadium in left field and run the outfield warning track and finish by home plate while they announce your name and put you on the Jumbotron. If you are into the race vibe at all, to have this one in our community is tremendous.

They put great effort into making this event special, from when you pick up your packet (which comes in nice Vera Bradley shopping bag), go through the race expo, support and drinks on the course, post race stretching options with local physical therapists, and post race food and entertainment. 

The Fort4Fitness fall festival is our community’s largest fitness event.

There are also training options in the months ahead if you want to train with other runners, although I haven’t participated in that personally.  You can find all the information on the event here: https://fort4fitness.org/fall-festival

I love different races in Fort Wayne and New Haven for different reasons, but the Fort4fitness is definitely my favorite! 

Helping Local Refugees

Helping Local Refugees

I first met Ann Heign, the executive director at International House, several years ago when my daughter’s much awaited mission trip to Africa was postponed. She was so disappointed, as she loves working with kids and had such a heart to go to Africa.

A daughter of one of my friends had mentioned that she had volunteered at Ihouse where she worked with refugee children. She gave me Ann’s name and number, and my daughter, Rebekah, and I met with her a few days later. As we sat in the Ihouse living room, Ann said to Rebekah, “I can bring Africa to you right here in Fort Wayne.”

By the following week, Rebekah started volunteering her time on a weekly basis providing childcare for the kids while their mothers were involved in any one of the life skills programs that Ihouse offers.

International House is a non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization committed to sharing the love and light of Jesus Christ with refugees and other internationals living in the Fort Wayne area.

At the same time, International House respects the right of each individual to decide his own religious preference and provides services without regard to religious preference.

Kids Club

Citizenship Class

Homework Help

Women’s Club

I also spent time volunteering at Ihouse helping some of the refugee women learn to read English. My younger two daughters, Promise and Autumn, would accompany me on those days and would help with childcare.  They loved hanging out with the kids! My daughter, Kristen, was able to help out using her organizational skills with whatever projects Ann would have for her.

Volunteering does help those in our community, but I have also found that it impacts those of us who are doing the serving, as well. It has given both my children and myself a much broader perspective of the needs around us. It builds compassion and empathy in your kids as it brings awareness to the trials that others are facing in their community. This often leads to a greater sense of gratitude in their own lives.

There are so many ways you can use whatever gifts and talents you have to serve this ministry! If you are interested in helping, or would like more information, contact Ann Heign here.

#Forti-fy

Volunteer to Help Fort Wayne Pregnant Moms & Dads

Volunteer to Help Fort Wayne Pregnant Moms & Dads

Volunteering has always been an important aspect of our family and while we had children in the home, our volunteering focused on areas where we could serve together or activities in which the children were involved. Five years ago our youngest child graduated and with that milestone for her (and me, since I was the primary homeschool teacher), my opportunities for volunteering changed. 

There are so many needs in our community, The Hope Center is one of  two ministries where I landed. While I am utilizing my nursing degree at The Hope Center, the organization has ample opportunities for anyone who is willing to devote some time and love.  

All you need to start helping at A Hope Center right now is … 

  • an open heart
  • a desire to help others
  • a love for mothers and fathers of unborn children
  • a desire to educate those faced with an unexpected pregnancy about their options – accurately, compassionately, and non-judgmentally

 The first step to being a volunteer is to visit A Hope Cener. You may schedule a tour by contacting 260.422.3544. There are many different ways to volunteer:

In-Office Volunteer Opportunities

  • Bonus room worker – Sort incoming donations and cater to our client shoppers who have earned baby and maternity items by participating in Earn While You Learn (EWYL).
  • Clerical worker at Hobson Rd – Help keep the office running smoothly with filing, mailing, tabulating, publication folding and cutting, data entering, ordering, and other office duties. 
  • Classroom educator – Our Earn While You Learn program provides educational opportunities using both individual and group settings. Use your specific expertise to empower clients by teaching a group education class.
  • Earn While You Learn Facilitator – EWYL Facilitators act solely as mentors/teachers to clients who have chosen to carry their pregnancy to term. They use pre-established curriculum and other resources to help clients improve their lives and improve the lives of their families.
  • Peer advocate – Female advocates have opportunities to provide peer counseling to women seeking pregnancy and STD testing and other services. Male advocates provide peer counseling to the male partners of women seeking our services. Both have the privilege to act as a mentor and teacher to long-term clients who wish to grow in knowledge, maturity, and wisdom. Advocates receive extensive training to fulfill this role. 
  • Nurse – A Hope Center is a limited medical facility. It is important to have nurses available on all shifts to provide nurse-administered pregnancy and STD testing. Nurses may also train as advocates in order to conduct all aspects of the pregnancy test visit with a client.

Other Ways to Volunteer

  • Professional consultant – As we grow, the need for professional support services becomes more important for both short and long-term ministry needs. All professional fields are welcome to apply!
  • Financial contributor – A Hope Center is funded entirely by local individuals, churches, and foundations so that clients may receive valuable care without financial cost. Lives are changed and lives are saved as a result of grass-roots investors looking for the most meaningful of returns. Will you be A Hope Center friend? 
  • Walker or underwriter at Strides of Hope – Walk or sponsor a walker at the annual “Strides of Hope” walkathon in August/September. Businesses and individuals may also help support the fundraising event with underwriting funds.
  • Guest, table host, table sponsor, or underwriter at the annual fundraising banquet – Held in April, the annual banquet brings A Hope Center supporters together to hear a great speaker and learn about ministry needs and accomplishments. The event is free, but guests are asked to partner financially with the ministry. 
  • Bargain hunter – Bargain hunters love to shop garage sales and clearance sales for baby and maternity items. Make your donation in purchased material goods!
  • In-kind giver – Many partners in ministry remember the center when cleaning out their drawers and closets. Like-new baby items and maternity clothes bless our clients in need. Just drop your items off at 3630 Hobson Rd, 3701 South Calhoun Street, or 4705 Illinois Rd locations during office hours.
  • Church liaison – A church liaison serves as A Hope Center’s communication facilitator within their church family. Liaisons receive church mailings for distribution to their congregations and are asked to follow up with church leadership to promote events and activities. 
  • Prayer team member – As a member of the prayer team you will be given prayer requests for clients (no identifying information distributed for purposes of confidentiality), volunteers, staff, board members, and ministry events.
  • Fundraising coordinator – Throw a baby shower for the Center to collect maternity and baby items for the Bonus Room client store. You could also collect spare change from your church or small group with a Baby Bottle Campaign. All the information and bottles you need will be provided by the center.

Questions? Call us at 260.422.3544. You can find more information on their website here. 

Fudgy Grain-Free Yum!

Fudgy Grain-Free Yum!

I know there are lots of recipes out there for grain-free and sugar-free muffins that would be “healthier” than these muffins. These would definitely not fit into a “low-carb” category food! BUT, if you, or your kids, have issues with grains, and carbs are not a problem, or in my case, buying a gift for a gluten-free friend on her birthday, these are a REALLY scrumptious treat! They are so incredibly fudgy!
I actually put these right in the freezer after purshasing. For whatever reason, I think they are the absolute best after you pull one out and after a minute or so, you bite in to what taste like a massive piece of fudge!
You can check out all the Flax 4 Life products here. They are cheaper to buy on line, however then you have shipping charges.  I have only found these at Fresh Thyme Market and Earth Fare. However, they are often sold out, so I always call ahead! And I just picked up a stash before posting this to make sure I had plenty in the freezer! smile
Volunteer to Help The Underserved

Volunteer to Help The Underserved

Volunteering has always been an important aspect of our family and while we had children in the home, our volunteering focused on areas where we could serve together or activities in which the children were involved. Five years ago our youngest child graduated and with that milestone for her (and me, since I was the primary homeschool teacher), my opportunities for volunteering changed. 

There are so many needs in our community; Matthew 25 is one of two organizations where I landed. While I am utilizing my nursing degree at this locations, the program has ample opportunities for anyone who is willling to devote some time and love.

By the gospel, Matthew 25 Health And Dental Clinic fills a critical need in our community, providing free medical, dental, and vision services to uninsured, low-income residents of Northeast Indiana and Northwest Ohio. There are many opportunities to volunteer at Matthew 25. Whether you are a healthcare professional or a lay person wanting to help those who are in need of healthcare, there is a place for you. 

  • Physicians
  • Nurse Practioner
  • Immediate Care
  • Physician Assistant
  • Nurses
  • Medical Assistant
  • Medical Scheduler
  • Nurse Health Educator
  • Certified Diabetic Educator
  • Nutritionist
  • Physical therapist
  • Student nurse
  • Dentists
  • Dental hygienists
  • Dental Assistants
  • Front desk
  • Intake Assistant
  • Translator
  • Host/Hostess
  • Clerical
  • Data Entry
  • Operator
  • Social Work Assistant
  • Medicine Room
  • Inventory
  • Pill Processors
  • Patient Assistance Medicine Intake
  • Patient Assistance Pharmaceutical Processor
  • Fundraising events
  • Mailings
  • Custodial and maintenance

If interested, see http://www.matthew25online.org/volunteers.

Do you have a volunteer oppportunity you would like to share? Please let us know here!