Hot On The Trails: Franklin Greenway Trail

This system connects the charming Johnson County seat’s downtown with Franklin College, woods, wetlands, and parks—as well as restaurants, shops, and historic and cultural destinations.
Franklin Greenway Trail

Length: 7.4 miles / Surface: paved / Location: Franklin / Connects to: Franklin Community High School Trail / Total system length: 10.4 miles

Built in 1881, the handsome brick Johnson County Courthouse blends architectural styles, and the square was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.

North of the courthouse, the Historic Artcraft Theatre Art Deco showplace opened as a vaudeville and silent-movie venue in 1922. Dirty Dancing (June 9–10) is one of the upcoming screenings. Babe (June 13) and A Boy Named Charlie Brown (June 20) matinees are showing in a Summer Break Series—$5 for a ticket, small drink, and popcorn.

Between the trail and theater is Madison Street Salvage, an architectural resale and antiques store selling barn beams, old doors and windows, mantels, and other finds on weekends. Proceeds benefit the Franklin Heritage preservation group.

Just off the trail, Richard’s Brick Oven Pizza cooks up wood-fired pies, gyro calzones, and garlic pinwheels. The patio doubles as an open-to-the-public arts garden.

The serene 1845 Greenlawn Cemetery is the site of the graves of congressman William Wick and Gov. Roger D. Branigin. Civil War buffs might want to check out the replica cannon in the circa-1885 brick chapel.

On June 10, retired Brig. Gen. J. Stewart Goodwin, executive director of the Indiana War Memorial, will give a free talk about World War I at the Johnson County Museum of History.

Eighty-two-acre Blue Heron Park and Wetlands has a bike-repair station, full basketball court, 26-hole disc golf course, and other amenities. Wooded areas, wetlands, and prairies make for good hiking close to town. Province Park has a fenced-in dog run ($35 annual pass required).

Michael Powell, a Franklin College senior, has used the trail since his freshman year to train with his teammates on the cross country team. Now, he typically uses the trail for long runs, and finds that the other trail users make it stand out. “It is very user-friendly and also a very sociable trail,” Powell says. “Everyone you pass waves and greets you.” Another perk? “The trail runs through different communities that allow for some exploring, while also providing enough mileage for all types of runs.”

This article is part of “Hot on the Trails,” IM’s road-free guide to exploring Central Indiana.