Favorites on Foot: Five Great urban Walks [Health & Fitness]

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This article appears in the January 2011 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, please visit loumag.com.

By Nina Walfoort

Part 3 of 5 . . .

Walking is the bargain basement of the fitness world. It’s easy, affordable and doesn’t require fancy equipment. “All you need is pair of good shoes, motivation and an interesting place to walk,” says Angela Hollingsworth, who led walking groups for years as a health educator for Metro Louisville.

Hollingsworth usually took groups to the scenic paths through Shawnee and Chickasaw parks. And virtually all of the Metro Parks offer great places to roam, with their curves, hills and terrain changes protected from street traffic and noise.

But it’s not necessary to drive to a park to find a fantastic walk. Many of us have paths right outside our door. In Crescent Hill, my route up Frankfort Avenue to the Louisville Water Co. reservoir and back is a well-beaten trail for local fitness fans, dog walkers and even a group of children who hike to school each morning with their parents. But for those who don’t have sidewalks out front of their houses or may be looking to spice up their regimens, we found some wonderful walks in fresh places.

Our criteria: Sidewalks or paths must be safely segregated from traffic; the route must form a loop that doesn’t require doubling back; visual interest and variety is essential; and bonus points are awarded for a place to stop for a snack or cup of coffee.

All of these walks are between one and three miles long.


3.  Cherokee Triangle:  The Beautiful Homes Walk

Touring the Triangle immerses you in a near-overload of Louisville history — architectural, political and social. You’ll see a mix of housing types, architectural styles and exterior detailing unmatched in Louisville and rare in any city. There are Victorians, Georgians, Tudors, Queen Annes and Williamsburg Colonials, and a knockout example of Steamboat Gothic at 1300 Willow. And it’s not limited to single-family homes. You’ll also pass several gorgeous duplexes along with the elegant Pennington condos on Cherokee Parkway and the classic Dartmouth-Willow Terrace on Willow Avenue.

“It’s all about the variety and texture of the styles,” says real estate agent Monica Orr, who has owned three homes in the Triangle. “They are intricate without being overly ornate. There’s so much authenticity in terms of construction and craftsmanship that is no longer available.”

The Daniel Boone statue at the roundabout on the edge of Cherokee Park is a great place to start. The statue was created by Enid Yandell, who achieved artistic celebrity rare for women at the turn of the 20th century. Heading north on Cherokee Road there is a short segment without a sidewalk, but starting at Baringer Avenue you’ll connect with the pavement and also two of the finest examples of in-fill housing imaginable. Try to pick out the houses that were built just 20 years ago, nestled between their much older sisters. (Their smaller porches give them away.)Cherokee Road has an amazing collection of clay-tiled roofs and mosaic inlays, along with three impressive contemporary homes that somehow sneaked by the Louisville Landmarks Commission.

Beautiful Cherokee Park lines the street on your right, and when you hit Willow, check out the two nearly identical Georgian Revival houses on the corner at Cherokee Road, built by Joseph & Joseph Architects around 1929. Samuel I. Rosenbaum, a successful furrier, owned one of them, where he reportedly kept many of his furs in cold storage underneath the porch.

Make a right on Willow to Cherokee Parkway. This is deep into the heart of Louisville’s first growth spurt. The imposing Tudor at 2409 Cherokee Parkway was designed by prominent local architect John Bacon Hutchings and is now a neighborhood icon: stately, imposing and unchanging. The houses along this stretch are among the first “suburban” homes built in Louisville, and some were included in a 1912 newspaper article quaintly titled “Luxurious Country Houses at the City’s Skirts.” Turn left on Longest Avenue and pass the home at 2515 Longest purchased by University of Louisville former president Donald Swain. Prior to becoming the presidential home, it was occupied by members of the Brown family and was at one time named Amelia Place, after Owsley Frazier’s mother, Amelia Brown Frazier.

Continuing on Longest, you can glance left on Willow to catch the unassuming home at 1307 that was built by John Hillerich, whose father founded Hillerich & Bradsby of Louisville Slugger bat fame. Turning left on Cherokee Road toward the Castleman statue, you will pass the “Bickel Mansion,” impressively renovated and on the National Register of Historic Places. Stop at the Castleman statue and drink it in: Confederate Major John Breckinridge Castleman aboard his horse, the Park-View apartment complex, a boulevard lined with million-dollar real estate and a mansion on the south corner with a turret that would do Rapunzel proud.

Pass the delightful Pennington Condos and wander down the hill past 1400 Willow. Heading south again on Willow, make a left on Eastern Parkway and head back past several villa-esque homes to your starting point.
     
Take a trip into Cherokee Park at the Daniel Boone statue or expand your residential tour by exploring the northern half of the Triangle. A couple books have captured the history and styles of the Triangle and will greatly enhance your walk. Cherokee Triangle: A History of the Heart of the Highlands, by Samuel W. Thomas, is too big to carry with you, but Ann S. Karem has written a lovely, portable paperback called The Cherokee Area: A History that can help with the history and architectural styles as you peruse these stunning streets.

Nina Walfoort served as project director of ACTIVE Louisville and chairman of the Active Living Committee of the Mayor’s Healthy Hometown Movement.

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