Discover Your Nature

10 Reasons to Train for a 5K on the River Walk

The River Walk is not only great for walking, it’s great for running too! From the Henderson Welcome Center at the Depot building, all the way to the end of the River Walk equals about 2.5 miles. So there are many ways you can mix up your running route to equal the length of a 5K (3.1 miles).

Here are some reasons why training for a 5K on the River Walk is more fun than training on your average gym treadmill.

  1. Scenic View – The River Walk winds through miles of parks and green space and has some of the best views of the Ohio River. You’ll never be bored looking at all the scenery!

  2. Diverse Elevation – The River Walk route has lots of flat terrain, gentle sloping hills, and a few short inclines and declines that will give you a good work out. If you come upon any surprise terrain during your 5K races, at least your muscles will be able to handle the hills!

  3. Lighted Path at Night – Only able to train after work? There’s about a mile of pathway on the River Walk (from 7th Street to 12th Street) that has lighting lining the path, making the River Walk a perfect option for runners who like to train after the sun goes down.

  4. Safe Pathways – The River Walk is for pedestrian traffic only, which means you’re safe from cyclists. Also, the River Walk is paved and wider than your average sidewalk giving you plenty of room to run!

  5. Downtown Detour – If you want to switch up your running route, the River Walk is just a few blocks away from historic Main Street. You can easily take a detour from your usual route to look at all the beautiful Main Street homes. Main Street is very wide, so there is plenty of room for runners, walkers, and bikers. Main Street is bike-friendly with marked bike lanes for cyclists.

  6. Take a Break! – Feeling a little tuckered out? There are plenty of benches and places to rest along the River Walk. There are also shade trees and playgrounds as you near Atkinson Park.

  7. No Need to Bring a Water Bottle – Another great reason to train on the River Walk is that there are several drinking fountains scattered along the route. So there’s no need to awkwardly run with a water bottle in your hand. Do take note, though, that the water fountains are turned off during winter. Another fun fact: some of these water fountains also have a drinking spout for dogs, too! Which brings us to our next tip…

  8. Popular With Pups – The River Walk is an active spot for dog walkers of all kinds. If you enjoy furry smiles and stealing a quick pet from a pooch on your runs, the River Walk is the place to go!

  9. Plenty of Parking – The River Walk is easy to get to with several different places to park your car along the 2.5 mile route. Or if you are looking for a scenic route on your drive home, turn left at the corner of 12th Street and Merritt Drive (near the hospital), and you will get an awesome view of the River Walk on your drive home.

  10. Vibrant Downtown – The River Walk winds through many popular spots where locals like to meet up. It’s super easy to meet up with friends in one of the five parks that the River Walk runs along. It’s also convenient to be near downtown Henderson where you can watch the active railroad train bridge and riverfront water fountain display in the summer, swing by some stores to shop local, or grab a bite to eat and drinks after your workout.

Like this post? Click here for more tips on trails and travel. If you are ready to hit the road and train on the River Walk, here are some running routes that may help you train for your 5k!


Option A: River Route, 3.1 miles

Parking – Turn right on Merritt Drive from 12th Street, there will be a small pull-off spot for parking.
Route – Run 1.25 miles south (towards the riverfront). Continue until you reach the Depot Welcome Center, where you will turn around and return running north 1.25 miles towards where you parked. Continue another .3 miles until the River Walk path crosses through the parking lot off of Atkinson Park Road. It will be just after you pass through the covered part of the River Walk. Turn around and run back to where you parked you car, which will be .3 miles, and your complete running route will total about 3.1 miles.

Option B: Atkinson Marked Route, 2.5 miles

Parking – Enter Atkinson Park Circle off of North Elm Street as if you were heading to Hays boat ramp, and park near the River Walk’s beginning.
Route – Grab a quick drink of water and get a quick stretch of those calf muscles because you will encounter some hills here! You will see a brown and green route marker, this is where you will begin. What’s great about this route is it has these visual markers all throughout the route. Run for 1.25 miles south, you’ll know when to turn around when you reach the overlook with the benches and Audubon statue that is at the corner of 12th Street and Merritt Drive. Grab a quick drink from the water fountain, turn around and head back from the direction you came. When you’re back to where you started, your complete running route will total about 2.5 miles.


Option C: Traveler in Training Route, 2.5 mile run + 1.25 mile walk +1 mile run

Parking – Free 2-hour parking is located at the Depot Welcome Center at 101 N. Water Street.
Route – If you have plenty of time to kill and are still training to build up to your stamina for your 3.1 mile run, you might prefer this route. Begin your run at Audubon Mill Park by heading north 2.5 miles until you reach the end of the River Walk Route near the parking lot listed in Option B. Take your time for the scenic walk back– you deserve it! You just ran the entire River Walk! Ready to kick it back up in gear? When you approach the overlook with the benches and Audubon statue that is at the corner of 12th Street and Merritt Drive, grab a drink of water, and finish out the home stretch of your run! Upon completing this route you will have traveled almost 5 miles by foot. Way to go, you!

No matter what route you take you should snap a photo of your accomplishment and share on social media using #HendersonKy or #ismynature and tell us how you discover your nature!

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