Places to Run Around Indianapolis
Central Canal Towpath
The Central Canal Towpath is a scenic, mostly dirt and crushed limestone path. Good starting points include Butler University (just down the sidewalk from Hinkle Fieldhouse along 52nd street), farther north at the intersection of Broad Rripple Avenue and College Avenue, and at the eastern end where the path ends at the Monon Trail.. The path is best maintained in the middle third between 52nd and Michigan Road, which is in the heart of the Butler campus. This area is also the most popular section of the Canal. Continuing south is still very nice, but not quite as pretty to look at. It is much less crowded. The northern third can get a bit narrow, but it's quite nice. You are likely to run into ducks and geense. We've also seen deer, foxes, turtles, blue herron, muskrats, and beavers.
The round trip from Broadripple to 30th street and back is about 10 miles. A very nice stone marker showing many landmarks and the distances between them is at 52nd St.
Fall Creek Trail
The Fall Creek Trail is a narrow asphalt path that runs along the creek. It is popular with families and many runners and skaters. The scenery is dominated by large trees and the trickle of the creek. The south end of the path is around 43rd street and it goes north to just past Emerson and 56th street. The course is 2.75 miles from end to end (including a 1/10 mile trek along the road on the north end to make up the difference). It is marked at 1/4 mile increments in white paint. The southern end even as the occasional portable toilet.
Eagle Creek Park
Eagle Creek Park is one of the largest city-owned parks in the nation and probably the best place to run trails within the city. The park is located on the northwest side of Indianapolis and includes 5K, 8K, and 10K certified road courses along with an uncertified 7K course that all begin near the beach parking lot (yes, there is a beach). Each course is clearly marked with road signs. The terrain is flat in places and gently rolling in others.
There are also many miles of dirt trails for the off-road crowd. The most popular is the volksmarch some of us affectionately call the "Blue Man Trail", due to the markers consisting of the outline of a man in blue with walking poles. The loop is roughly 6 miles. Ask for a map at the gate so you can plan your distances. And speaking of the gate, there is a charge for admission, but it's worth it. Eagle Creek Park hours vary during the year.
The Monon Trail is the main "Rails to Trails" path from Indy Parks. It is open from dawn to dusk. (Note: The Indianapolis hours were extended from 5:00am to 9:00pm on a trial basis in late 2011.) The path is exceptionally smooth asphalt, lined with trees on both sides. There are two beautiful bridges and countless backyards into which to peek. The current northern endpoint is in Westfield north of 161st street. The trail is being extended through Westfield to Sheridan. The southern endpoint meets the Cultural Trail in Indianapolis. It's possible to take the Cultural Trail west to the center of downtown Indianapolis. While the entire trail should be safe during the day, women who are unfamiliar with the area and running alone may want to stay north of 52nd Street or run along the Cultural Trail unless the Monon Trail is somewhat busy.
The smoothness and "hipness" of the Monon Trail brings out everyone within a bike ride or skate of any access point. On the weekends and nice evenings, the path can be packed with families cruising along, shoulder to shoulder, walking off dinner. If you are out for speed, go during off hours. But if you are out for people watching, you will be quite entertained. Take your time, start and end in Broad Ripple, and when you're done, plop down on one of the benches and shoot the breeze. Then maybe walk over for a snow cone, ice, or dinner at one of the local restaurants.
Pleasant Run Trail
The Pleasant Run Trail is a paved 6.9 mile trail located on the southeast part of town between Ellenberger and Garfield Parks.
White River Wapahani Trail
The main section of the White River Wapahani Trail runs from 38th Street south to White River State Park, with several more miles planned, and it will eventually connect to many other trails. Currently, it links with the Central Canal Towpath, the southern segment of the Fall Creek Trail, and the Downtown Canal Walk, and it will eventually link to the Eagle Creek Trail and possibly the Pleasant Run Trail. Trail users can also get to the Monon Trail via the Central Canal Towpath or a cross town connection on St. Clair Street.
Canal Walk - The Zoo Loop
The zoo loop is another popular race route, but it is also a wonderful "Heart of the City" run. There are 2 routes, a 3.3 and a 5 miler. Start at the corner of Capitol and Washington, go west to the zoo, then north along the White River Parkway. For the 3.3 loop, turn right on New York and go past the IU Track stadium, and the Natatorium. For the 5 miler, turn right on 10th street, past Wishard Hospital and the Canal Overlook and then loop around Monument circle. If you can find it, take the limestone walkway behind the zoo.
Fort Benjamin Harrison, formerly a military installation since 1903, is now a State Park and Nature Preserve. The park is located on the northeast area of Indianapolis and is most easily accessed from 465, and going east at 56th street. The park entrance is at the intersection of Post and 59th Street where you should be able to pick-up a map of the roads and trails. Note that there are restricted areas, but still plenty of nice running. The Loop around the Duck Pond is paved and has some good hills. The Fall Creek Trail is scenic and has a couple of very steep hills. The Lawrence Creek trail is a bit more friendly with its wide path and moderate terrain.
Additions and Corrections
We do our best to keep this page up-to-date. Iif you see information that is out-dated or have another running location you feel belongs on this page, then email the location to us, and we'll consider adding it here.