Kentucky is a scenic state that is bounded on the northern side by the Ohio River and eastern side by the Appalachian Mountains. It has been nicknamed the Bluegrass State after the bluegrass plant species that grows in most of its pastures. Kentucky has an abundance of diverse landscapes and natural resources. It is home to Mammoth Cave National Park, which is the world’s longest cave system. Other natural resources include Cumberland Falls, artificial and natural lakes, rivers, streams, national parks, and forests. This state is also known for horse racing, fried chicken, bourbon distilleries and college basketball. Kentucky’s economy mainly relied on agriculture but now it has diversified to manufacturing and energy fuel production. With favorable climate throughout the year and spectacular scenery, Kentucky is a haven for outdoor recreation. Keep fit while hiking in this scenic state. Capture those Instagram-worthy photos to remember your adventurous experience. Scroll down to find out about the top hiking and trekking spots in Kentucky, USA.
1. Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Lace up your comfortable hiking shoes and prepare to hike through 17 miles (27 km) of scenic hiking trails at Cumberland Falls State Resort Park. With 12 different trails of varying levels of difficulty to choose from, this park is a hiker’s paradise. Walk along the Cumberland River Trail that follows Cumberland River upstream, through an old logging road and ends at the parking lot to Cumberland Falls. Marvel at spectacular views of Cumberland River and Gatliff Bridge as you hike on the Cumberland Falls Trail, the most popular route to the falls. The Eagle Falls Trail follows a cliff line, passes a seasonal stream, offers breathtaking views of Cumberland Falls and leads to Eagle Falls. Exploring all the trails would be worth it.
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Address: 7351 Hwy 90, Corbin, KY 40701, United States
Website: Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
2. Taylorsville Lake State Park
Capture amazing photos as you hike in this park. Taylorsville Lake is its main feature. It has 24 miles (38.6 km) of multi-use trails for hikers, bikers and horse riding. Enjoy being in the midst of nature, wildlife viewing and bird watching as you hike. Take in the beautiful scenery as you hike towards the lake. Relish the calming effect and relaxation that comes with being next to a water body. The trail is a little bit difficult to walk in because of the horse traffic but the views are worth it.
Taylorsville Lake State Park
Address: 1320 Park Rd, Mt Eden, KY 40046, United States
Website: Taylorsville Lake State Park
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
3. Land Between the Lakes
Located between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, this National Recreation Area has many miles of hiking trails with varying degrees of steepness. It has over 261 miles (420 km) of well-maintained hiking trails. The Central Hardwoods Scenic Trail is an easy to moderate trail that runs from Lake Barkley to the former site of the Golden Pond and continues to near Kentucky Lake. Honker Trail is a moderate trail that takes you through dense forest, meadows and the lakeshore where you can see Giant Canada Geese. See migratory waterfowl and wildlife at Hermatite Lake Trail. For a moderate to strenuous trail, explore North-South Trail which covers the entire length of this recreation area.
Land Between the Lakes
Address: 238 Visitor Center Dr, Golden Pond, KY 42211, United States
Website: Land Between the Lakes
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
4. Red River Gorge Geological Area
Explore this scenic canyon system on the Red River. A sight to behold, this canyon system features towering sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, sparkling waterfalls and natural bridges. The Red River Gorge has over 60 miles (97 km) of hiking trails with different levels of difficulty. The Grays Arch Trail which begins at Grays Arch Picnic Area and ends at Grays Arch offers scenic views of native flora and a waterfall at the arch during rainy weather. See towering cliffs on the Auxier Branch Trail. Choose the trail you want depending on if you are a beginner or advanced hiker and prepare to be wowed by spectacular scenery.
Red River Gorge Geological Area
Address: Robbie Ridge Rd, Stanton, KY 40380, United States
Website: Red River Gorge Geological Area
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
5. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Marvel at spectacular scenery at this 734-acre (237 Ha) woodland with 10 miles (16 km) of hiking trails. The hiking trails offer amazing views of meadows, woodlands, streams, historic remnants from the 19th century and a variety of wildlife. The level of difficulty ranges from easy to moderately difficult. Put on your hiking shoes and go on this scenic adventure. By the end of your hike, you will be feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Address: 3885 Raven Run Way, Lexington, KY 40515, United States
Website: Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Opening hours: 9am - 4:30pm (daily)
6. Sheltowee Trace Trail
Scenic nature in a serene environment is what you get as you trek on this trail. Sheltowee Trace Trail is 333 miles (535.9 km) long and extends through Burnt Mill Bridge Trail Head, Daniel Boone National Forest, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Cave Run Lake and Laurel Lake. You have the option of choosing between day hiking or backpacking. Enjoy the views of wildlife, vegetation, gorgeous waterfalls, sandstone cliffs, old homesteads, logging tracts and oil and gas wells as you trek. Ensure you wear water shoes as you will have to cross streams at some points. Gear up and go on this amazing adventure.
Sheltowee Trace Trail
Website: Sheltowee Trace Trail
7. Carter Caves State Resort Park
Marvel at arches and swinging bridges and feel the thrill exploring caves as you go on a hike at this spot. Explore the Natural Bridge Trail which is 0.5 mi (0.8 km) long and see a magnificent limestone natural bridge. The 0.7 mi (1.1 km) Raven Bridge Trail takes you through the sandstone arch and Raven Bridge. A walk in the scenic, hilly and fairly difficult Box Canyon Trail offers views of the Cascade Natural Bridge, Box Canyon and the wind tunnel. With 11 trails featuring spectacular scenery and of different lengths, you will be spoilt for choice.
Carter Caves State Resort Park
Address: 344 Caveland Dr, Olive Hill, KY 41164, United States
Website: Carter Caves State Resort Park
8. Daniel Boone National Forest
Hike in this forest with a rugged terrain characterized by steep forested slopes, sandstone cliffs and narrow ravines. The area also has an abundance of water features, wildlife and vegetation. It features 600 miles (970 km) of scenic trails with varying lengths and difficulty levels. You have the option of day hiking or an overnight backpacking adventure. Have fun while taking in amazing views of nature at its finest. With a variety of trails to choose from in this forest, schedule ample time to explore as much as possible.
Daniel Boone National Forest
Address: 1700 Bypass Rd, London, KY 40744, United States
Website: Daniel Boone National Forest
9. Bernheim Forest
Bernheim Forest features native trees, wildlife, 40 mi (64.4 km) of well-manicured trails and gardens. The trails vary when it comes to the degree of difficulty. Weave your way through the forest and relish the feeling of being in the midst of nature. A hike along Arboretum Loop treats you to views of different landscapes in the forest, such as the grassland prairie and a collection of the forest’s trees including dogwood, magnolias and conifers. Lake Nevin Loop circles the lake where you can see the cypress-tupelo swamp and bluegrass savanna. This forest has over 10 trails waiting for you to explore, with some of the trails also being handicap accessible. Get to experience nature like never before when here.
Address: 2075 Clermont Rd, Clermont, KY 40110, United States
Website: Bernheim Forest
Opening hours: 7am - 5pm (daily)
10. Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail
Hike in this 120 mi (193 km) trail that extends through Cumberland Gap National Historic Park to Pine Mountain State Resort Park in Pineville. Finally, it leads to the Breaks Interstate Park in Elkhorn City. The different parts of the trail feature rock outlooks, viewing platforms, wild highlands, waterfalls, wildlife and scenic views of the mountains. Take note that some parts of the trail are still under construction. The terrain is also steep in some areas. However, this should not stop you from visiting this nature trail for that memorable hiking experience.
Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail
Address: Breaks Interstate Park to US 23, US 23 to US 119, Whitesburg, KY 41858
Website: Pine Mountain State Scenic Trail
Explore nature in Kentucky
The inexplicable tranquility that comes from spending time amidst nature is something to always look forward to. The lush vegetation and breathtaking views of the landscape and natural features engulfing you give you a newfound appreciation for nature. Lace up your hiking shoes and have fun exploring these top hiking and trekking spots in Kentucky, USA.
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