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Active Travels: Louisville’s Parkland

Louisville's amazing park system.

By Steve Jermanok

I was in Louisville several weeks ago researching and writing a story for The Washington Post on the emerging neighborhood on East Market Street called NuLu. I dined on tasty southern fare like fried chicken livers doused in a bourbon sauce at Harvest, recently named one of the best new restaurants in America by the James Beard Foundation. I also spent at least three hours looking at old television footage at the Muhammad Ali Center and saw an intense drama at the Humana Festival of New American Plays. Yet, what really impressed me was the all the rolling green parkland and rivers Louisville is blessed with. Louisville has more parkland than Chicago or Denver. In fact the city has more green space than Baltimore, Boston, and
 Pittsburgh combined. And not just any ole park, but 18 parks and 6 parkways designed by the developer of New York’s Central Park, Frederick Law Olmsted. With such an abundant wealth of parkland, it didn’t surprise me that so many residents were out biking and jogging on the parkways.

Well, it looks like the rich are only going to get richer, because Louisville is in the midst of adding 4,000 acres of park in the southern and eastern part of the city, along Floyd Fort Creek. Called the Parklands, the city aims to add 100 miles of new trails for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and a 19-mile canoe trail in the creek. The Parklands will open in phases, beginning in 2013, with the entire system scheduled to be complete by 2015. The Parklands will be part of the Louisville Loop, a 100-mile shared-use path that will encircle the entire city. So far, 25 miles of the loop have been completed. When it’s done, I’ll be due for a return trip.
Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.
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