One of the best ways to spend time with your family—fathers with their daughters in this case—is to take a walk. In every city where we have lived, I have enjoyed walking with my family in parks. From Louisville’s wonderful Olmsted parks and Waterfront Park, to The Parklands of Floyds Fork, to Central Park in NYC, to national parks out west, we have shared time making memories together in the outdoors. In an increasingly busy world dominated by computer and phone screens, time together outdoors allows all of us to get away in a place where we can interact directly with one another, and experience nature and the outdoors in a healthy and fun fashion.
One of the best places to walk in Louisville is The Parklands of Floyds Fork. Walking is the oldest form of human exercise. It creates great family bonding time, and is a great way to introduce your children to healthy outdoor activities, as well as form a connection to nature, all of which are major goals of The Parklands. Making nature and the outdoors accessible to all, whatever their age or ability level, was a core principle of The Parklands’ design. Unusually for a city park, we provide easy ways—the Louisville Loop, our hiking trails, our excursion trails—to access all kinds of natural habitats, from meadows to streambanks and upland forests. At any age, time spent away from the complexities of the modern world (and its many distractions) will build memories, closer family connections, and a closer connection to nature.
The Parklands offers a wide variety of experiences and challenges for walking with your daughters—from the paved, flat Louisville Loop multiuse trail, to hiking trails in the woods. Here is a sampling of five great walks in The Parklands of Floyds Fork:
- Short Walks: Try the Riparian Ramble in Broad Run Park or the Valley of the Giants Trail in Beckley Creek Park. Both are short, flat walks through the woods along Floyds Fork—ideal sites to experience the creek and the shade of a woodland on these hot summer days.
- A Forest Walk: The Coppiced Woods Trail in Beckley Creek Park, the Big Beech Woods Trail in Pope Lick Park, and the Limestone Gorge Trail in Broad Run Park, all offer relatively short loop trails through some of the loveliest woodlands in The Parklands. Go in the morning to hear the very active bird life of The Parklands, or during the quiet of the evening for a calmer stroll.
- A Walk with a View: Start at Boulder Pond in Turkey Run Park and walk past the Sky Dome and Bullfrog Crossing to Brown-Forman Silo Center and back. This is a long hike, with several big hills, so it’s best for older children. The Louisville Loop from Cliffside Center to Big Vista Overlook in Broad Run Park is a shorter hike, but with a big hill at the beginning. Both of these are especially good in the mornings and evenings with the softer light, and cooler temperatures. The views at the end, from Silo Lookout and Big Vista Overlook, are always fun!
- A Hilly Walk: If you are looking for exercise, start at the Distillery Bend parking lot in Beckley Creek Park and walk south on the Louisville Loop to the Pope Lick train trestle and back. This rolling topography will lead you through a beautiful woodland before crossing underneath the Trestle, one of the most historic sites in The Parklands. It’s a fun outing and a good calorie burn!
- The Black Willow Trail: This loop route in Beckley Creek Park combines a short section of the Louisville Loop with a longer section of crushed gravel. It winds along Floyds Fork through one of the best bottomland forests in The Parklands, and then through open meadows past the historic Oak Grove barn complex, one of the visible reminders of the agricultural heritage of these lands before they became a park. Designed specifically for walkers, you can vary it each time you go by incorporating the Country Lane Walk and the Allee Wetlands along the Humana Grand Allee, or visit The Flats (one of the best places, at low water, to wade in Floyds Fork). Bird life is varied and often visible in all of these areas, and The Flats is one of the best places in The Parklands for butterflies and dragonflies during spring and summer months.
There are many more trails in The Parklands to explore once you get started, so use this sampler as a simple menu, then begin to explore on your own. There are even areas, such as the Big Beech Woods in Pope Lick Park, where you can explore on your own one of the quietest, oldest forests in Louisville.
So, if you haven’t taken a walk with your daughter, or your family lately, use July 7th as an excuse to jumpstart one of the best and healthiest activities out there: a good walk!
About the Author
A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Dan holds degrees from Yale University (B.A., M.F.) and Indiana University, Bloomington (Ph.D.). He has spent much of his working life in the fields of education and business management. In addition to founding and managing his own business, he taught World History and the History of the American West at the University of Louisville, and most recently, an Honors Seminar entitled “Reading the Natural Landscape.” In 2004, he founded 21st Century Parks, Inc. a nonprofit corporation created to bring fresh vision to the development and preservation of new public parklands. Their current project, The Parklands of Floyds Fork, is one of the largest new metropolitan parks projects in the country: almost 4000 acres of new, donor-supported public park system in the last major undeveloped section of Metro Louisville. Dan is the founder of 21st Century Parks/The Parklands and currently serves as the Board Chair, where he oversees fundraising, planning, design, construction, and operations of the new parks. He is married, with four children, and enjoys hiking, camping and fishing with his family, skiing, running, and reading.