Hot On The Trails: Indy’s White River Wapahani Trail

Starting at Indy’s Riverside Regional Park at 38th Street and following the waterway south to the downtown Canal Walk and on to Raymond Street, runners looking for distance without crowds hop onto the Wapahani—the name Native Americans gave the trace that once followed the same route. Other recreational and cultural destinations abound along the way.
White River Wapahani Trail

Length: 10.6 miles / Surface: paved / Location: Indianapolis / Connects to: Central Canal Towpath, Indianapolis Cultural Trail, Downtown Canal Walk

“Some of the bridge architecture is very unique,” says André Denman, principal park planner and greenways manager in the Department of Public Works. “The trail goes under at least three bridges south of Washington Street. You don’t notice them in a car, but you can see them from the trail.” The route also offers some of the best views of the city skyline, especially near the old GM stamping plant.

Lots of city-dwelling fauna call the White River corridor home, including dozens of species of fish, birds, bees, and butterflies, and red fox, coyote, and deer are common. Overhead and on the water, spot blue heron, wood ducks, osprey, golden eagles, and hawks.

With approximately 18 more miles planned, the White River Trail will eventually connect to Fall Creek, Eagle Creek, Pleasant Run, and Little Buck Creek trails. The most recent improvement was the extension from the Indianapolis Zoo south to Raymond Street.

Mayor Thomas Taggart, who served the city for three terms starting in 1895, had the vision and wherewithal to turn swampland into what is now Riverside Regional Park. The sprawling grounds hold Riverside and Coffin golf courses, as well as The Cycloplex, which includes the Major Taylor Velodrome, a BMX track, and a cyclocross course.

Serving health-focused lunch on weekdays, Duos @ Eskenazi Health makes a roasted-eggplant sandwich with fontina, tomato chutney, caramelized onion, arugula, and cilantro; David’s Favorite Egg Salad with free-range Indiana farm eggs; and Becky’s Quinoa Bowl with tofu, garbanzo beans, tahini dressing, sunflower, carrots, red bell peppers, and Harvestland Spicy Greens. (And don’t pass on a cookie or lemon bar.)

Just off the beaten path, west of the White River on Washington Street, is Taqueria Zamoritas, a Yelp favorite cheered for its delicious but modestly priced tacos.

Famous for its doughnuts (among other treats), cash-only Long’s Bakery is a short skip from the trail. Running or riding to it instead of driving makes it okay.

A by-no-means-comprehensive list of other recreational and cultural destinations along the way: Kuntz Soccer Stadium, Municipal Gardens Park, the Indianapolis Zoo, White River State Park, IUPUI.

“I love the trail south of the zoo,” says Andrew Hector, a downtown runner working up to a marathon. “It’s pretty much just you, the woods, and the river. The woods start closer to I-70—kind of a little oasis in the city.” If you’re starved for hills, Hector suggests climbing them on the trail near the zoo or on the west side of the river where the path goes under I-70.

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