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NOTE: To find the name of a trail on this map, please move the cursor of your mouse onto the trail line. The name and length of the trail will show in a balloon.
Just twelve miles south of downtown Indianapolis is Greenwood , Indiana , in Johnson County and with a trails system of its own. For the most part, the Greenwood Trails can be used by walkers, runners, bikers, rollerbladers, and wheelchairs with no problem, though there are a few areas too hilly or on a sidewalk that may be difficult to navigate for some modes.
The Greenwood Trails basically have a north-south and an east-west axis. The east to west portion extends from the intersection of Emerson Avenue and East Main Street/County Road 950 N. It jogs south for a bit, then turns sharply west again. It is mostly well-marked, all wide and well-maintained asphalt with a short stretch of city sidewalk. Here, the trail is mostly flat and linear.
Note that the east terminus is in a commercial area with restaurants and shops and gas if you need it. There is plenty of parking at a strip mall on the south side of the Main Street axis. The trail is tree-lined in areas and in this east portion passes through several subdivisions.
The western terminus is at Averitt and West Smith Valley Roads, and toward this end of pathway, there is still a segment yet to be completed. Here, the trail is in-process, and at this time is connected by grassy links.
On this east-west line, one passes through notable 27-acre Craig Park. There are trail amenities, including phones, water, bike racks, trash receptacles, in addition to ball parks, tennis courts, indoor/outdoor shelters, picnic areas with grills, and plenty of car parking. This is also where a north spur branches off, as the Polk Hill Trail, which was/is Greenwood ’s first greenway. The Polk Hill runs from Smith Valley Road (the east-west axis) north to near Main Street . There are neighborhoods and some evergreen-lined sections. In addition, boardwalks pass over peaceful Pleasant Run Creek.
Slightly west of the Polk Hill Trail branching, one comes to Tracy Trail , a 1.4 mile (approximately) southward path that recently opened in 2009. This is another well-maintained asphalt trail. It is hilly and winding in places and is city sidewalk for a short distance. The trail’s south terminus is located in Summerfield Park . Its sixteen acres offer views of natural areas, plus playgrounds, gazebos, picnic tables, shelters, and restrooms.
As for the geographic area of Greenwood , it has a history and identity separate from its northern big-city neighbor, and deserves mention and appreciation for its own sake. According to the Polis Center at IUPUI, most historical accounts relate that a Delaware Indian settlement existed just west of present-day Greenwood in the early 1800s and before. However, this village was destroyed by Indiana and Kentucky militias in 1813.
A few years later, The Whetzel Trace road or trail, running east-west, was cut through central Indiana by a captain of the same name. Though today much of this area is open agricultural fields, in the early 1800s it is reported to have been heavily forested with wetlands, streams, and abundant wildlife. Even before this more “modern” history, though, landscapes of the Johnson County area were defined by glacial periods, as one might expect. The Indiana Geological Survey tells us that the more recent Wisconsin glaciation boundary reached to the Greenwood area. “The large ridge that lies along the east side of the road [SR 37] just north of the [Johnson/Marion] county line is a remnant of a massive outwash fan deposited about 20,000 years ago. . . . catastrophic outbursts of meltwater from the disintegrating glacier scoured the valley, leaving only the highstanding head of the fan remaining. . . . The fan is contiguous with a long, low ridge . . . locally known as the Greenwood Moraine . . . mark[ing] the location where the ice margin stood for a long period of time.”
So, when walking or biking through Greenwood , one can get a feel for its own personality. Greenwood was known as Greenfield for awhile in the early 1800s, but changed its name after a short time to prevent mix-up with the other Greenfield east of Indy. The Madison and Indianapolis Railroad ran through town as early as 1847. Greenwood was also home in the late 1800s and early 1900s to the large J. T. Polk Canning Company, which purchased from surrounding farms to supply its needs. The Polk legacy is still seen in Greenwood .
Finally, besides its history, written or prehistoric, the town also claims Greenwood Park Mall, built in the 1960s, then renovated, enlarged, and reopened as a major shopping destination. However, don’t overlook the original city center when you do a trail tour here.
By Kim Muller