Destinations - Southern Indiana 2019 - Page 28

PHOTO: TYLER STEWART From urban pathways to wooded trails, there are plenty of ways for pedestrians and cyclists to explore Southern Indiana, and the opportunities continue to grow. The Ohio River Greenway is one of the biggest contributions to trail connectivity in Clark and Floyd counties. The ongoing project links New Albany, Clarksville and Jeffersonville through a 7.5-mile multi-use trail. A few short segments of the Greenway still need to be completed. However, one of the most important steps in the pathway was the recent construction of a pedestrian bridge over Silver Creek for the Greenway’s Lewis and Clark Trail, which was a missing link between New Albany and Clarksville. For Philip Hendershot, who has been the chair of the Greenway commission since 2001, improving connections between the riverfronts in Clark and Floyd counties has been a longtime endeavor. Now, the extensive bike and walking trail is about 85 percent complete, he said, and it’s already been popular with pedestrians and cyclists. “What it means to me is that it provides our citizens and our visitors a way to reconnect with the river and reconnect with nature,” he said. “It provides a great space to just enhance their overall health with some exercise.” The Ohio River Greenway hasn’t only been a community asset, Hendershot said — it also has been a catalyst for activity and investment along the riverfront. For example, the River Heritage Conservancy nonprofit recently announced plans for a 400- acre park at the foot of the Falls of the Ohio area, which would would tie in with the Greenway. In addition to walking and biking, there are many other activities and sightseeing opportunities available along the Ohio River Greenway. The Falls of the Ohio State Park and the George Rogers Clark home site in Clarksville are some of the highlights, Hendershot said, and people can also enjoy public gathering spaces such as the Jeffersonville RiverStage and the New Albany Amphitheater on either end of the trail. JEFFERSONVILLE In Jeffersonville, the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge is one of the most significant connections between Southern Indiana and Louisville. The former railroad bridge, which was converted into a pedestrian and bicycle path in 2013, is about a mile long. Jeffersonville Parks & Recreation Director Paul Northam said the Big Four Bridge brings people into Jeffersonville from Louisville to enjoy downtown restaurants, shopping and activities at destinations such as RiverStage. “We’re seeing thousands of people coming across the bridge on nice spring and summer days that may never have been in Jeffersonville before,” he said. Popular walking trails in Jeffersonville include the Richard L. Vissing Park trails, a half-mile mile paved trail and 1.5- mile unpaved trail, Northam said. The trails run around the park’s softball fields and basketball courts. Smaller parks such as Allison Brook Park near Middle Road and Allison Lane are also worth checking out, he said. The park features about a half-mile of scenic walking trails with lookouts into a creek, and it connects with the park’s community garden and playground. “[The trails] just provide a place for people to get out and enjoy the parks and enjoy the good weather,” he said. CLARKSVILLE Clarksville Parks & Recreation Director Brian Kaluzny recommends the three miles of walking trails located at the 332-acre Lapping Memorial Park. The trails allow people to walk along the banks of Silver Creek. “You can enjoy hiking trails, explore the park, explore Silver Creek and just get away from things,” he said. “It’s kind of a hidden gem.” CHARLESTOWN Charlestown State Park offers many opportunities for hikers, whether they are looking for a moderate or a rugged hiking experience. The park includes about 15 miles of trails throughout its 5,100 acres, including some leading to the Ohio River. The state park even offers events such as its monthly full moon hikes for those who want to enjoy the trails at night. Visitors can also explore Southern Indiana’s history with a hike to the former Rose Island Amusement Park along the river, which includes remnants of the 1920s-era attraction. BORDEN Visitors to Deam Lake Recreation Area in Borden can enjoy four hiking trails ranging from easy to rugged. The lake also includes the trailhead for the 60- mile Knobstone Trail, the longest hiking trail in Indiana. The rugged trail spans Clark, Scott and Washington counties. The multipurpose Yellow Horse Trail is a 6-mile loop around the lake and parts of the recreation area, and it is used for horse riding and mountain biking in addition to hiking. The 2.5-mile rugged Lake Vista Trail offers views of the lake. FLOYD COUNTY New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said in addition to the Ohio River Greenway, the pathways at the Loop Island Wetlands are one of the main attractions within the city. The 50-acre area’s pathway has seen a variety of recent improvements, including trail bed stabilization and trimming, according to Gahan. It also runs alongside the Greenway, so the new pedestrian bridge over Silver Creek has expanded the Wetlands’ connectivity, he said. “You can get really close to the water and see firsthand the waterfowl and the natural beauty of the wetlands,” he said. He also recommended the Silver Hills Historic Nature Trail & Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a one-mile loop that replaced an old trolley route on Spring Street Hill. It is one of New Albany’s most scenic trails, he said. The Campbell Woodland Nature Trails off Budd Road are among the highlights of Floyd County treks, according to Floyd County Parks & Recreation Superintendent Roger Jeffers. The wooded paved trails are handicapped accessible, he said, and the pathways feature solar lighting. “It’s a nice little park that’s off the beaten path,” he said. “It gets a lot of use.”