No matter how big a city gets, you can’t quite take all the country out of it. At least that’s how Danny Lee sees things along the Indianapolis Cultural Trail, a bike and pedestrian path where walking a few blocks can take you from city sight-seeing to riverfront rambling and back again. The hike Danny designed for us takes the best of the Cultural Trail and pumps up the challenge with extra stairs.
1) Start at Monument Circle, climbing up and down the Soldiers and Sailors Monument’s 331 steps.
2) Head west on Washington Street to the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art and its landmark deer sculpture that seems ready to leap the sidewalk.
3) Take any of the paths north around or through the Eiteljorg grounds. Go left at the canal and west to North Blackford Street. Take a left and follow the branch of the White River Trail that leads to the Old Washington Street Bridge.
4) Cross the bridge and take the walkway down to the White River Wapahani Trail. Follow the trail northwest along the river.
5) Take the walkway over West New York Street on your right, then take a right onto the gravel path down to the levee. Watch for migrating mallards on the river as the path winds through prairie cordgrass and wild daisies.
6) Take the trail exit that leads to Wabash Street. Go left and head north to West New York Street, then follow the Cultural Trail as it circles around Military Park, with its expansive lawn, colorful oaks and busy resident squirrels.
7) Watch for public paintings at bridge abutments and overpasses.
8) Follow the Downtown Canal Walk’s 3-mile loop, where gondoliers ply the waterway.
9) After looping back south, watch for Burgerhaus at West Ninth Street, where you can stop for craft beer and—no surprise—burgers.
10) Continue south to West New York Street. Turn left to head east to North Meridian Street, then take a right and head south back to your starting point. Up for another 331 stairs? That’s your call!
Danny Lee has hiked the Midwest for more than 30 years. A favorite route: the Hoosier National Forest’s Tecumseh Trail.