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In the 1890s, pre-eminent landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted Sr. envisioned large community parks connected to the neighborhoods of Louisville via “ribbons of green.” His tree-lined parkways still exist today and will serve as spokes to the 100-miles-plus Louisville Loop, once complete.
The planned Loop will take trail users through five parts of Jefferson County, giving them a taste of each section’s unique heritage and character. All five segments have been planned out, with 48 miles completed and various sections in design or construction. The Louisville Metro Parks and Recreation Department designed each of the Loop’s five sections—Ohio River Valley, the Knobs, Shale Lowlands, Limestone Belt and Floyds Fork—to display their distinct charms, while a cohesive wayfinding and interpretive signage system funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2010 ensures visual consistency throughout the network.
Mile 0 kicks off the Loop’s largest continuous section: the 25-mile Ohio River Valley segment. Heading west from the Big Four Bridge, visitors can soak up all that the downtown Louisville Riverwalk has to offer, from public art installations at Waterfront Park to the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and Olmsted’s Shawnee and Chickasaw Parks. The off-road Levee Trail picks up from the Riverwalk, providing users with a diverse mix of vistas. The Beargrass Creek Greenway in this section also connects two popular recreational assets: Waterfront Park and Cherokee Park.
Heading east from the river, the Knobs and Shale Lowlands will no doubt become a haven for adventurous hikers, geologists and nature enthusiasts. These segments will traverse one of the county’s most geographically diverse regions, featuring farmland, ancient lake beds and the 6,600-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest.
The Parklands of Floyds Fork segment—a 19-mile, off-road portion of the Loop—encompasses four parks. From Broad Run Park in the south (near mile 55 of the Loop’s planned 111 miles) all the way up to Beckley Creek Park (mile 74), the Parklands segment provides adventurers with everything from canoeing and kayaking along Floyds Fork to mountain biking at Turkey Run Park’s Silo Center Bike Park. At Trestle Point in Pope Lick Park, historians and rail enthusiasts will appreciate that the Loop passes directly under a late 1880s train trestle. At the Strand, nature lovers can observe wildlife at Catfish Bend, while archaeology buffs can search for fossils deposited on the gravel bars of Mussel Bend.
Completing the Loop will be the suburban Limestone Belt section, which will pick up from the northern tip of the Parklands and loop west to the city of Prospect and the Ohio River Valley Northeast.
In the Ohio River Valley segment, parking is available in many of the parks along the route, including (from north to south): Caperton Swamp, Carrie Gaulbert Cox, Eva Bandman, Waterfront, Lannan, Shawnee, Chickasaw, Riverside Gardens and Riverview.
In the Parklands of Floyds Fork segment, visitors can access numerous trailheads and parking lots throughout the Parklands' four parks. For more info, visit: theparklands.org/directions.html.
Parking along other developed parts of the Loop include the Lamborne Boulevard and West Manslick Road trailheads at Pond Creek, as well as the McNeely Lake Park trailhead at Cedar Creek Road.
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