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Central Canal Towpath, Indianapolis, Indiana

This National Recreation Trail is both a vintage remnant of 19th Century Indiana and a modern mid-city escape along gentle waters.

Photos by Stuart Macdonald

Indiana map

One of several major trails in Indianapolis, the Central Canal Towpath forms an important part of the metropolitan area's system of trails and greenways.

photo of trail along canal
The Central Canal trail provides a rural setting in the middle of the city.

The Central Canal Towpath begins at the Monon Rail-Trail in Broad Ripple and follows a historic 1836 canal towpath. The historic character of the canal was maintained by recreating the crushed limestone surface and adding two historic bridges dating to 1872 and 1879 for trail users.

The Central Canal Towpath today represents one of a handful of historic functioning canals. The canal was designated as an American Water Landmark in 1971, and it became part of the Indianapolis Greenways System in 1994.

The Central Canal Towpath has been supported and funded in part by the Lilly Endowment, Butler University, the Christian Theological Seminary, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, and the neighborhood of Rocky Ripple. Indy Greenways and the Broad Ripple Village Association have collaborated to begin development of an urban pedestrian plaza, located near the former parking deck over the Canal.

photo of trail sign
Markers on the historic Central Canal trail.

The Central Canal Towpath connects to the Monon Rail-Trail and the White River Trail, which leads users to downtown Indianapolis. The Towpath connects users to important destinations in the city, such as the cultural Village of Broad Ripple, Butler University's campus and Holcom Gardens, and the Indianapolis Art Museum.

For more on the trail visit the Indy Parks website.


The National Recreation Trails Program
American Trails, P.O. Box 491797, Redding, CA 96049-1797 (530) 547-2060 Fax: (530) 547-2035

Photo of boardwalk in swamp
Audubon Center at the Francis Beidler Forest (photo: Mark Musselman)

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