Call it the non-Monon: The Towpath may not get as much love as a certain other north-south greenway running through the heart of Indianapolis, but this trail following the route of a nearly 200-year-old canal system connects some of the city’s top cultural attractions and destination neighborhoods—and has a unique rural character all its own.
Two tires might be better than four if you live on the northeast side, work downtown, and face a frustrating commute. The Fall Creek Trail meanders alongside its namesake waterway from Geist Reservoir, across the Monon near 33rd Street, and on to downtown. Savvy cyclists beat State Fair traffic in August and peep the changing leaves at Fort Harrison State Park in the fall. Hard stops rarely interrupt the wide, paved path, popular with serious riders doing time trials, families out for joyrides, and pedestrians, too.
At the center of Hendricks County’s versatile, interconnected greenway system, White Lick Creek Trail can accommodate runners seeking variety in length and routes. A number of parks and landmarks provide pleasant resting places, and joggers might be tempted to slow their pace in order to absorb the small-town attractions—and carb-rich treats—along the way.
With three completed portions—1.2 miles in Irvington, 3 in Cumberland, and nearly 6 in Greenfield—the Pennsy is part of the National Road Heritage Trail, which planners hope will eventually stretch from Richmond to Terre Haute.
If your ideal trail includes jump lines and wall rides, Town Run is the place to go. With nearly 7 miles of packed-dirt paths, the 127-acre northside park straddling I-465 is a haven for mountain bikers (it’s maintained by the Hoosier Mountain Bike Association in partnership with Indy Parks). Beginners are welcome: All the gnarly stuff is labeled, so you can go around obstacles if you want. The entrance off of 96th Street east of Hazel Dell Parkway is not highly visible, so keep your eyes peeled.
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.