Friday, August 28, 2015

Biking Louisville's Riverwalk Trail

Louisville's Waterfront Park is the hub of Louisville's revitalized downtown and within walking (or biking) distance of restaurants, shops, museums (including Louisville Slugger Museum where the famous baseball bats are made and displayed) as well as the immense Extreme Park (skateboarding and BMX bikes). Slugger Field is also in the area. For the kids, the Adventure Playground has a waterplay area with bubblers, showers, tunnels, and water channels.

As of several years ago, Louisville had completed a number of miles of their Riverwalk Trail and Ohio Levee Trail running from east of Downtown at the soccer park west to Chickasaw Park, partially atop the levee, traveling past the Riverwalk water park and Belle of Louisville sternwheeler, Great Lawn, Festival Plaza, parks, playgrounds, gardens, wooded forests, and historical markers, and giving views to the Ohio River and its wildlife including peregrine falcons, great blue herons, spotted sandpipers, grebes, gulls, loons, mallards, Canadian geese, and more.

They now have an ambitious Louisville Loop Trail planned and underway, a paved loop of over 100 miles connecting Louisville's diverse neighborhoods and parks. Over 25 miles are already open to the public, including the Ohio River Levee Trail and the Riverwalk (click to enlarge.)

Recently the old bridge over the Ohio River opened as a pedestrian and bike way, and eventually, a loop trail will exist on both sides of the river with 2 bridges connecting the ends. Below you see the cloverleaf built to gain the height needed to reach the bridge.

The bridge is proving to be a popular destination for residents as well as visitors...

...and the views from the bridge are spectacular.

A lush forest feeling signals the approach of Shawnee Park. The round-trip is about 15 miles of mostly flat paved trail and provides a variety of scenery and views. Here my cousin Claudia and her husband, Bob, longtime residents of Louisville, exhibit their joy at showing off Louisville's beautiful trail to the out-of-towner from Chicago. The paved trail was in very good condition on our trip and it was interesting reading the embedded historical markers as you pedal west commemorating various historical episodes in local history.

West of town, at mile 604.4 of the Ohio River, the trail passes the McAlpine Locks and Dam. The first canal and locks around the Falls of the Ohio were completed in 1830. In 1961, the 1200 foot long lock opened and construction is underway on a second 1,200 foot by 110-foot lock to replace two antiquated, inefficient locks. The trail gives views of the construction and, eventually, of the locking operations.

The return trip provides wonderful views of the city skyline as you approach the Downtown area from the west, and watching the boat traffic as you ride is another bonus of the route.

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