Story & Photos by JD Dotson


New Albany waterfront provides a beautiful, easy route along the river, starting at the amphitheater and heading east. There is free parking at the end of Pearl Street and then a few steps up over the train tracks to the amphitheater. You might as well climb up to the lookout and do your stretching overlooking the river. There are plans to connect the route – eventually – through Clarksville to Jeffersonville with the Ohio River Greenway Project. But for now, a couple of miles of fairly flat path stretch along the banks and flood wall. I turn around at two miles but am really looking forward to the seven miles of bridges and paths that will connect the three cities of Southern Indiana when the Greenway Project is completed. I run two miles down about as far as I can go from the amphitheater then turn back.

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We are lucky to have paths that run along the Ohio River and park systems dotted throughout Southern Indiana and Louisville. Whether you are looking for a light, easy jog, a challenging, hard run, or anything in between, options abound.

Two of my favorite spots for exploration are Charlestown State Park and Floyds Fork, both offer multiple trails and paths with varying degrees of difficulty.

While I love to explore new routes, there are some I repeat based on convenience and level of difficulty. Whether I am looking for a quick warm-up run, a run that consistently challenges me as I walk out the door from work, or a run that I dread full of challenges, I have repeated these three routes many times over the years.


A downtown route has its challenges for any runner. Depending on the time of day and traffic, I make sure to keep my music off and my brain alert crossing streets of downtown.

I inevitably see things along my downtown routes that cause me to stop and take a picture.

Once my feet hit the Second Street Bridge, I resume my focus and my music and head across the water. The bridge offers its own challenges. The cars whizzing by in both directions and the slight sway of the bridge, juxtaposed with the movement of the water below, can be disorienting.

Keeping your eyes on the prize usually works for me: focus on the end of the bridge and run toward it. There is a slight elevation to the bridge, but the better challenge hits you at the Big Four Bridge. Leave the Second Street Bridge and run along the banks in Jeffersonville. Also, there is a really great ramp or a set of stairs waiting for you at the Big Four Station.

I have a general rule for conquering hills or inclines, especially if there are options to get around them. I may not be barreling up the hill at full speed, but I never let the hill beat me. I also try to remember as I am ascending any hill that I have to come back down at some point. The bridge is usually filled with people on any given day, running, biking, taking pictures – so be wary. The end of the bridge comes after about a half mile, and the promised descent drops you on Louisville’s Waterfront Park and then back into downtown.

It’s a good run with a mildly challenging route, but I am a fan of urban running and exploration. This route would be really easy to skip the streets of downtown and crosswalks by sticking solely to the waterfront paths. There is plenty of free parking at the base of the bridge on either side of the river and water stops in the parks.

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One of my favorite runs that I dread every time is the hilly road around and through Iroquois Park.

I love the scenery in the park and the dedicated lane for running or biking. I dread the relentless hills (what goes up, must come down) but know they are good for me. The hills around the loop are deceiving. Just when you think you are reaching the top and about to head downhill, the road turns and goes up a bit more. Parking at the amphitheater, I begin the Iroquois run clockwise on the loop (Rundill Road). Around the 2.5 mile mark, Uppill Road branches off to the right. The road could – and should – be called Uphill Road as a mile-long incline opens up around the turn.

Pushing through to the top and a half a mile back, runners are rewarded for their hard work with the Iroquois Park Overlook and a spectacular view of the city from six miles away. I dread it, but running this route prepares me for what’s to come in the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon or the Papa John’s 10 Miler. Conquering the hills in practice runs make me stronger in the races, as Iroquois Park hills happen in the middle of both, and, who am I kidding, hills are great for my glutes.

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Follow more of JD’s running adventures by following @runstheuniverse on Instagram.

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