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Saturday, February 24, 2024

Happy Trails

The first bicycle and pedestrian path attempted in Evansville was in 1927 when a St. Louis architect was hired to plan the city’s park system. It was to be called the “Pleasure Path” and would wind along next to Pigeon Creek.

It was an idea that finally stuck, after five more attempts, the last in 1990, which led to opening the first section of the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage, the Middle Levee Corridor, in 1997. Though hikers and bikers can enter the Pigeon Creek Greenway Passage from six trailheads, I’ve heard comments from citizens who would like to use the Greenway, but aren’t sure where the trailheads are. Since the Greenway does indeed follow the creek, trailheads aren’t necessarily in the most obvious or high-traffic areas, though each is marked clearly on brochures and maps, available online at evansville.gov. I recently drove to each of the trailheads to see how easy it was to park and access the trail; it was very easy.

Currently 6.75 miles long, the Greenway stretches from the canoe launch and trailhead on Heidelbach Avenue (where Heidelbach ends at the creek) to Sunrise Park, at Waterworks Road and Veterans Memorial Parkway. Along the way, you’ll see many points of interest, more than a few seen only by visitors to the Greenway, like Eric Braysmith’s Coal Mine Mural (2002) installed along the passage between Garvin Park and the Uhlhorn Trailhead which is accessible just off of First Avenue, near the City of Evansville Animal Control Shelter. Eventually, the Greenway will encircle the city and extend to Newburgh, Indiana, connecting with the Rivertown Trail to the east, and the University of Southern Indiana-Burdette Trail to the west.

Southwestern Indiana seems to be hitting its stride in the development of trails for recreation, thanks mostly to the grassroots efforts of individuals. Shirley James, who is credited for her perseverance in creating the Greenway (she died in 2007), is recognized with a plaza — the Shirley James Gateway Plaza — near the Mead Johnson Trailhead and Joan Marchand Bridge overlook.

To produce Bikes & Hikes, the Evansville Living team talked with the leading regional innovators in the sport — hiking and biking enthusiasts who have helped forged new paths for us to enjoy. Adventure is calling! Paved or dirt, it’s time to hit the trails. With summer soon upon us, make a plan to experience Southern Indiana’s natural beauty from trails in your own backyard.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.

Kristen K. Tucker
Publisher & Editor

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