White River Greenway: Part I

Tim and I explored Hamilton County’s best kept secret this weekend: the White River Greenway. This excellent trail is shady, and we didn’t pass more than a handful of people on bikes or walking either day we went.

This afternoon we traveled a familiar part of the Greenway: the path to Potter’s Bridge is a well-traveled one for us, being one of our favorite short bike trips. The trip from our house to the bridge and back is just a little over six miles, so we frequently combine this trip with a mile and a half walk with our pooch.

The trail to Potter’s Bridge is beautiful. From the entrance at the top of Field Drive down to the bridge, the path meanders past corn fields tall with corn this time of year, following the White River in graceful curves that make biking more than a mindless pedaling excursion.

At the end of the trail, Potter’s Bridge provides a lovely path over the river, with windows framing the water below. We always stop for a little look-see in the middle of the bridge.

After a trip over the bridge, we make our way back up the hill and on to Forest Park, one of the best public parks in Noblesville. Our ride through the park takes us past the public pool with its stomach-churning high dive (also home pool of Olympic diver David Boudia), a vintage carousel still in working order, the Indiana Transportation Museum, and playgrounds a plenty. Before taking a steep and quick downhill ride out of the park, we pass a quiet spot with a monument dedicated to children who have died. A community fundraiser helped build this spot for grieving families to come and remember. We stop on occasion and read the bricks engraved with names of the children lost.

The path out of the park is much easier than if taken to enter the park: burning calves and thighs are a testament to the steepness of this part of the trail. Whizzing past the golf course is much more fun than huffing and puffing past it.

Out of the park and across the bridge to Riverwalk Depot park is perhaps one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. When we ride up the crest of a small hill onto the bridge, and the courthouse comes into sight… Ah! I can’t really express how much I love it. Riverwalk Depot is a recent addition, but it has turned a fairly ugly part of the trail into something to enjoy. Bike repair stations were added to this park and Potter’s Bridge since last year, and Tim took advantage of the station today to fill a low tire.

After our ride, we decided to cool off with some ice cream from Alexander’s on the Square. This shop, with its long soda-fountain counter and cheery booths make it a favorite stop for many.

After a Coke float and Buckeye Classic ice cream, we headed to Kirk’s Hardware. There has been a hardware store in this location since the late 1800s, and some of the stock in the store looks like it may still be around from those early days. For old house owners, this is the place to go for random parts and pieces. They also have plenty of modern wares, including a bike lock for our bikes.

With plenty of bike racks around town, we had no trouble finding a place to park our bikes and spend the rest of the afternoon browsing the antique shops and boutiques on the square. I love antique shops because they are like museums to me… museums where the exhibits are for sale! We have a hard time browsing and not buying, as was the case with this trip. I came across an autograph book from the mid-1940s and was charmed by the messages that people wrote for the original owner, Lucille. Many wrote the classic rhyming autograph messages, but some were new to me and made me smile or laugh.

One thing that always makes me sad are the boxes of photographs. It makes me wonder how we can become so separated from earlier generations that their photographs end up orphaned in a store and sold for twenty-five cents, never to be admired for the person and life it represents. Nameless, forgotten folks.

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Browsing done, we headed home with enough time for dinner and to pack up for Shakespeare in the Park, held at Seminary Park, another short bike ride from home. The Noblesville Cultural Arts Commission puts on a different production every year–and it’s free! Other Shakespeare in the Park experiences we’ve attended had a far steeper price tag. With picnic baskets and wine in tow, we joined friends for a lovely evening under the stars.

Recommendations:
White River Greenway for biking, walking, and jogging.
Alexander’s on the Square for ice cream.
Noblesville Antique Mall for an afternoon of browsing.
Noblesville Shakespeare in the Park, frequently held the last weekend of July and first weekend of August.

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