Louisville, Kentucky’s Metro Parks department is working with local and national partners to develop a 100-mile trail system that will encircle the city—linking parks and neighborhoods to civic and cultural attractions, and providing healthy transportation options for residents. The project is a centerpiece of Louisville’s City of Parks initiative, launched in the mid-2000s to expand and improve parkland and environmental education.
Currently, 23 miles of the Loop are complete. When finished, the trail will consist of a network of shared-use paths, soft-surface trails, bike lanes on roadways, stream corridors, parkways, and transit routes spanning five distinct physiographic regions in Louisville and Jefferson County.
Metro Parks recently engaged in a Sign and Wayfinding Project for the Loop to encourage use and help visitors navigate the landscape safely and conveniently. The plan includes new distance and mile markers, directional signs, trailhead signs, and trail identity signs. Signature markers and orientation signs identify nearby communities and attractions to encourage exploration, and QR codes provide a way for visitors with smartphones to acquire more information.
The project highlights the diverse topography of the area, which includes the hills, flats, parks, and wetlands of the Ohio River Valley, Shale Lowlands, Knobs, Limestone Belt, and Floyds Fork regions. Interpretive signs will provide lessons on natural and cultural history, along with a map of the Loop. The Loop will also feature public art to enhance neighborhoods and parks. By educating children and adults about Louisville’s unique features and building an appreciation for the trail, creators hope to develop devoted trail stewards.
Collaboration has been key in improving access and increasing use of the Louisville Loop. Critical connections were forged in 2009 though the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown movement, which brought integral groups together at one table to set a strategic direction for the project and develop trail design specifications and guidelines. Partners include the Mayor’s Office, the Louisville Department of Planning and Design, the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, the Louisville Bicycle Club, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the City Department of Public Works.
Ultimately, partners believe the Louisville Loop will be a valuable source of alternative transportation for the entire city—reducing traffic congestion, improving air quality, connecting neighborhoods, and improving health and wellness.
Erika LehmannandNicole Oehmkeare with Smith and Lehmann Consulting. For more information, contact Zarnaaz Bashir, MPH (firstname.lastname@example.org).