For urban exploration there is not a more connected trail in the country. The Cultural Trail makes a loop in and around the urban core of the city. Most of the trail includes split walking and biking lanes, lush landscaping, storm-water bioswells that provide buffer between the trail and road, and an amazing collection of public art. The trail connects downtown to several Cultural District including Mass Ave, Fountain Square, Indiana Avenue, Market East, and White River State Park. The trail also connects to the Monon Trail opening up access to Broad Ripple and Carmel.
The Monon is the rail trail that started it all. The trail extends out of downtown and runs through Mapleton-Fall Creek, Meridian-Kessler, Broad Ripple, and Nora. The northern stretch is called the Monon Greenway and stretches north to Carmel and Westfield. The Monon is one of the busiest urban greenways in the country and offers connections to the Fall Creek Trail, Canal Towpath, and the Indianapolis Cultural Trail.
This crushed limestone path extends from Broad Ripple Village in the north to 30th Street south. Along the way runners, walkers, and bikers will follow the Central Canal, a major source of drinking water for the city of Indianapolis. Pass through the campus of Butler University (go Dawgs!) and intersect with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and their 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. TIP: Be on the lookout for turtles.
A classic greenway, the Fall Creek trail follows Fall Creek as it meanders from Fort Harrison State Park in the north to Meridian Street in the south, with a connection to the Monon Trail just south of 38th Street. Along the way you’ll pass century-old bridges, established neighborhoods, and scenic views of the waterway.
Wapahani is the Native American name for the White River, the primary river corridor in Indianapolis. This paved trails northern trailhead is just south of 30th Street by Coffin Golf Course. Follow it south along the river past Riverside, Coffin, and South Grove Golf Courses. Next, you’ll enter the city and pass the new Eskenazi Health Complex before skirting the Indianapolis Zoo in White River State Park (look out for the Zoo’s orangutans on the elevated Hutan Trail). Pass under Washington Street and enjoy a wooded ride as far south as Raymond Street.
Explore the eastern and southern edges of the city with the Pleasant Run Greeway. Start in Ellenberger Park in the charming Irvington neighborhood and head southwest along Pleasant Run Creek. You'll pass through Christian Park and be routed to sidewalks in two areas, but there is clear signage to keep your bearings. Next, you'll pass by Orange Park, jump a pedestrian bridge, and intersect with the Indianapolis Cultural Trail at Shelby Street. Head into the city or continue westward to Indy's oldest city park, Garfield Park. Make sure to take in the Conservatory and sunken Gardens in the eastern portion of the park.
“The Mini” is the country’s largest half marathon with 35,000 annual participants. The race is tied to a month-long build up to the Indy 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race course extends from the heart of the city to the famed oval and includes a trek around the legendary track before turning back to the city. Feel free to stop and kiss the bricks at the start/finish line.
The heart of downtown pulses with speed as the Indy Crit takes off in the shadow of the majestic Indiana War Memorial, works it’s way around the epicenter of the city, Monument Circle, and culminates with a loop around University Park. Biking enthusiasts of all sorts are drawn to the Indy Crit due to the massive festival that includes BMX Stunt shows, a food truck festival, Handlebar Pedal Pub races, and more. There are also numerous family-friendly rides and activities associated with the event that makes this more than a spectator sport.
Take two blocks of the cities hottest cultural district and set loose some of the nation’s best cyclists as they loop at top speeds, diving into corners and providing a thrilling viewing experience. Races span a wide range of skill levels, run all day, and culminate as the pros run under streets lights. The Mass Ave Crit is as much a festival a bikes as it is a race. Entertainment runs all day with a beer garden, vendors, and opportunities for kids to learn more about biking.
Taking place in historic Fort Harrison State Park on Indy's Northeast side, your hometown half is a gorgeous fall tour through the park and surrounding neighborhoods. The race is timed to coincide with peak fall foliage season in the park so you’ll be running under brilliant canopy of orange, reds, and yellows. The area surrounding the park is hilly by Indy standards so expect some challenges. The race, celebrating 21 years, is a ASATF certified course finisher medals for all participants as well as overall and age-group awards.
Now one of the 20 largest marathons in the US, the Monumental Marathon is the ideal fall marathon for everyone from the first time marathon runner to elite athletes. Starting and finishing at the Indiana State Capitol, the course highlights landmarks and historical neighborhoods throughout Indianapolis. Nationally recognized as flat and fast, this event has hosted Olympians, PR seekers, and thousands of Boston Marathon qualifiers. If you're not ready for a full marathon the events includes a half marathon, 5k, kids fun run, and events for the entire family.
Travel across 96th Street on Indy’s north side and it’s easy to miss the entrance to Town Run, but if you find it you’ll discover Indy’s original home for mountain biking. Situated on 127 acres of parkland, Town Run is a natural oasis amidst the hustle and bustle of the Castleton corridor. The singletrack course offers a variety of terrain for mountain bikers with beginner and intermediate skill levels.
Located a short 15-minute drive from downtown Indy lies a state park with geography that is uncharacteristically hilly for Central Indiana. Fort Harrison offers riders three flowy singletrack trails that range from beginner-friendly to challenging for intermediate riders. Trails offer multiple creek crossings with log crossings and some rock. Be sure to stop by nearby Triton Brewing for a well-earned craft beer after a ride.
In the southwest corner of the city, just outside of the 465-loop, lies Soutwestway Park. Within the second largest park in the Indy Parks system there is a multiuse trail (watch out for hikers and horses) that makes a figure eight through the park. The trail combines new quality mountain bike trails with older trails. Plans for expansion are in the works and more trails will be coming soon.
If you’re downtown and need to get around the Pacers Bike Share is easy and fun. Look for the 250+ yellow bikes at 25 stations across the city and easily check one out for $8 for a 24-hour pass. The bikes are designed for city travel and can be easily adjusted for bodies short or tall. Baskets are ideal for purses or bags, fenders, and chain guards keep you clean, and three speeds are perfect for Indy’s gentle grades.
If you want to make a day of exploring White River State Park look no further than Wheel Fun Rentals. With a variety of bikes to accommodate kids and families, Wheel Fun is ideal for recreational riders that want to make a day of taking in the sites. Choose from cruiser bikes, mountain bikes, tandems, road bikes, and unique family bikes like Surreys. Bikes start at $10/hour, $20 for a half day, and $25 for a full day.
If you want to connect with Indy take a tour with the experts at ActiveIndy Tours. These casually paced tours are perfect for all ages and showcase the history, public art, and hidden surprises that Indy has to offer. Group rentals are coordinated with the Indy Bike Hub so it’s easy to get small to large groups accommodated.