Make your way through the Bloomington area on foot or on two wheels with these handy city trails.
By Julie Warren
Walking, running, and biking through Bloomington and Monroe County is easy and safe with the extensive trail system that crisscrosses through the city and beyond. If you’re looking for a convenient place to get exercise, you’ll find quick access and several miles of continuous trail with few stoppage points. If you want a non-motorized transportation avenue, you’ll enjoy the connectivity of these trails to major landmarks and business districts. Even though these trails run through developed urban areas, there is still plenty of greenery and wildlife to enjoy along the routes, a testament to the community’s emphasis on environmental balance. For fun or for function, enjoy the trails that run throughout the community.
Running right through downtown Bloomington, this 3.1 mile trail has become a major transportation, social, and development tool for the community. It’s a place to meet and walk and an easy way to get through the downtown bustle, with a few places to stop and enjoy a drink or bite to eat along the way. The B-Line connects with the Rail Trail to the south of the city. Bikers, joggers, and skaters will find the paved surface comfortable. The trail crosses a few major streets, and traffic is not required to stop, but being a friendly community, drivers usually do.
Ellettsville is a smaller community just west of Bloomington with a strong sense of heritage, and this trail is a testament to that history. The .5 mile trail is located just as you enter the downtown area, where Highway 46 bisects. The trailhead features a limestone gateway and a beautiful limestone sculpture, a nod to the storied limestone industry of the area. The trail will eventually connect with the Karst Farm Greenway. Until then, it’s a short but lovely avenue for exercise and reflection.
The Indiana University campus is one of the most beautiful in the country, but it’s also massive. Students and faculty often walk or bike through campus as the main means of transportation, and there are numerous paths to use with very little automobile traffic. Walking the campus is also a great form of exercise with inspiring views along the way. There are four designated walking trails on campus, each 1 mile long. They all have a connection point with another trail, so you can extend your route easily. The trails cover the central part of campus, from Jordan Avenue near the Wells Library to Bryan Hall on Indiana Avenue. Invigorate your body and your spirit with the beauty and energy of the IU Campus.
A little less urban, but not quite wilderness, the Karst Farm Greenway is a wonderful exercise trail on the western borders of the city. The 3.5 mile trail starts at Karst Farm Park and runs north past the Ivy Tech campus and almost to Ellettsville, where it will eventually connect to the Heritage Trail. This trail is typically peaceful and allows for focused exercise or meditation. It crosses a couple of busier streets and neighborhoods, but mostly it just crosses through vast fields and wooded lots.
Cascades Park Trail
Cascades Park is the oldest park in the Bloomington Parks and Rec system, but this trail is relatively new. The 2.7 mile trail runs the length of the park and more, starting at College Avenue and Old State Road 37 all the way to Upper Cascades Park and also to the Ferguson Dog Park. It’s just north of downtown, but the setting is quite serene with huge trees, a lovely creek, and little traffic. Be sure to take a break
at one of the unique limestone shelter houses.
Bloomington Rail Trail
Where the B-Line ends, the Rail Trail begins, creating a major corridor from downtown to the southern part of the city. However, the Rail Trail is a well-worn gravel surface trail, so be prepared for a transition. The 2 mile Rail Trail starts at Country Club Road (with a parking lot) and heads south through mostly residential areas. It’s still in the city, but quieter than the B-Line. The trail also connects with the Clear Creek Trail to the south, for the marathon runners among you.
Clear Creek Trail
The Clear Creek Trail is a 2.5 mile paved trail southwest of downtown, in a mostly residential area. It’s peaceful, but well used, and offers wooded and farm field landscapes that are quite lovely. The trail also features a 150 foot historic iron bridge that is perfect for a photo. Trailheads with parking are available off of Tapp Road and Church Ln.