The Black Willow Trail, located in Louisville’s Beckley Creek Park, offers the longest hike in the park, at a flat and easy 2.42 miles, as it meanders through meadows and borders creeks and ponds. The trail itself is an end-to-end trail, meaning it doesn’t naturally loop back to the parking lot, but we’ll show you how to do that by taking advantage of the Louisville Loop.
Park at the Humana Grand Allee and walk around the fountain to the Louisville Loop and the Thornton bridge (0.14 miles). Just before the bridge, you’ll find the trailhead marker for the Black Willow Trail. Follow the trail as it circles under the bridge, where you’ll have a nice view of Gheens Foundation Lodge on the other side.
As the trail leaves the pavement as you walk away from the bridge, you’ll notice that the trail is gravel, making it accessible rain or shine (The Parklands asks visitors not to hike the trails in muddy conditions). At 0.47 miles, you arrive at a bench offering a gorgeous view of the entire valley. A little further, you arrive at an old barn and a farm pond, with rusted old farm machinery nearby.
From here, the trail winds through a thin patch of woods and turns back to Beckley Creek Parkway, running alongside it a few dozen yards. Just after the trail leaves the Parkway, you reach the one mile mark. Continue one until the trail turns at Floyds Fork and heads back towards the parkway.
At 1.25 miles, you reach the Louisville Loop and pass under the W.L. Lyons Brown Bridge and pick up the trail on the other side. Stay with the trail as it swings towards Floyds Fork again before turning out of the sycamore trees to straddle the edge of them and the great meadow until it reaches the Louisville Loop again at 1.82 miles, where you turn left and stay on the paved trail for a tenth of a mile until you see a gravel trail and a sign pointing the way to Sassafras Bosque and the Festival Promenade.
The gravel trail winds through the tall grass until you reach the Promenade, where you turn left and head to the pond ahead. At the pond, we turned right and took the path around the edge of it, until we reached the parking lot. This took us through the wetlands, where the frogs were wonderfully deafening in their singing.
We enjoyed the Black Willow Trail, and recommend it to anyone looking for an easy and pleasant Creekside walk.
Watch Our Video Trail Guide
Getting there – from the Gene Snyder Freeway (I-265)
- Take exit 27 on the Gene Snyder, and head east on U.S. 60/Shelbyville Road
- Follow Shelbyville Road 0.8 miles until you reach Beckley Station Road
- Turn right onto Beckley Station Road
- Take Beckley Station Road 1.6 miles until you come to the entrance of Beckley Creek Park.
- Turn left into Beckley Creek Park, then make a quick right and go to the first intersection. At the intersection, make a right and go over the Thornton Bridge, which takes you over Floyds Fork.
- Take the first right, after the bridge, the parking lot for the Humana Grand Allee. This is the trailhead parking.