The Fall Creek Trail at Geist Dam is a hidden gem I recently discovered tucked away along Fall Creek Road, just north 79th Street. Offering a quiet, scenic walk and filled with good fishing spots, this trail is optimal for nature exploration. On a recent outing, my kids and I spotted a mother and baby deer and watched a fisherman reel in a catch.
Thanks to the generosity of the Geist Harbours Property Owners Association (GHPOA), the trail now boasts some attractive and durable picnic tables and benches. A bike rack is soon to be added, as well. Just ride your bike on down and forget about packing folding chairs or blankets for your afternoon outing!
“It’s a vigorous 45-minute walk from our home to the end of the trail and back,” says Masthead resident Ken Pendleton, who frequently walks the trail with his wife, Linda. “ Or, we can just stroll and enjoy the wildflowers, the wildlife, the peace and quiet, the moving water, and the beautiful views of the reservoir from a couple of the benches.”
The good news gets even better. Indy Parks (in cooperation with Indianapolis Water) plans to extend the Geist Dam trail down to 79th Street, where it will connect with the existing Upper Fall Creek Loop Trail. That trail starts just south of the Kroger plaza and circles a large pond.
The circular path can be a bit monotinous, says Sunset Cove resident Sandy Koons, who often walks her dog, Sasha, around the trail. Koons was glad to hear that soon she and Sasha will have a bit more ground to cover.
“That will be a little less boring,” she said of the planned trail extension.
The businesses in the strip mall east of CVS would also stand to benefit, especially Sundae’s ice cream shop. Owner Steve Buckner would welcome increased traffic on those hot, summer days, adding that he’d like to see tables set up along the trail.
The Geist Dam trail will need to be extended about half a mile, where it would come out in the backyard of the F.C. Tucker property, said Karina Straub, Indy Greenways manager. It would then pass underneath the 79th Street bridge to connect with the Upper Loop trail.
While permissions still need to be secured, Straub expects the trail extension to be completed by sometime in 2009.
The next project would be extending the Fall Creek Trail — which currently ends at Skiles Test Park at Shadeland and I-465 — to reach Ft. Harrison State Park, and eventually the Upper Loop in Geist. That’s been in the master plan for years but ,as of now, has no funding, Straub said.
That doesn’t mean nothing is happening. Indy Greenways is negotiating to acquire a covered bridge from elsewhere in the state. That would allow the Fall Creek Trail to reach Ft. Harrison State Park.
“It would be a first and would be a really neat project,” Straub said.
If everything goes well, the Parks Department could apply for a grant from the Federal Transportation Restoration Fund, which would cover 80 percent of the cost. Indy Parks, the City of Lawrence, City of Indianapolis, Department of Natural Resources and Department of Transportation would have to come up with the rest.
“We’re several years out from making any real progress on this piece,” Straub said.
Nonetheless, the prospect thrills many Geist residents like the Pendletons. The finished Fall Creek Trail would be 13.2 miles and connect to the Monon and White River trails.
“When it happens, we can ride our bikes to downtown Indianapolis, and beyond! In trail talk, that’s called ‘active transportation’ — burning calories, not carbon,” Ken Pendleton said. “Each additional ‘destination’ and ‘connection’ will give people even more incentive to use the trail. And that doesn’t begin to take $4-a-gallon gasoline into account!”