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The Best Hiking Trails in Central Kentucky

Hiking enthusiasts in and around the Lexington area are spoiled with great choices.

Red River Gorge is less than an hour’s drive away, and with parks and nature sanctuaries like McConnell Springs and Raven Run, both experienced and occasional hikers alike will find themselves at home on Central Kentucky’s trails.

Here are just a few of the best treks to take in the region!

Red Trail- Raven Run (Lexington)

One of several trails within the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary, the Red Trail loop leads visitors to the gorgeous Kentucky River outlook as a reward for braving its more than five miles. Though it’s not the easiest of the sanctuary’s trails, ranking as an “intermediate” on the park’s guide, it’s still a plenty doable hike for the adventurous beginner so long as you watch your step on some of the rockier stretches. There are also plenty of benches and trail markers to ensure that you can take the journey at your own pace without getting lost; additionally, the loop intersects with other shorter, connecting trails if you find yourself ready to head back early or just want to take a lighter hike.

John Holder Trail- Lower Howard’s Creek Nature and Heritage Preserve (Winchester)

Located in Winchester– home of the Ale 8 soft drink and bordering the city of Lexington– you’ll find what reviewers call “a short yet fun and slightly challenging trail to enjoy.” Its length is a little over a mile, but hiking in the warmer months or in the fall is a treat with the many beautiful sights along the trail. You’ll follow along a creek for much of the path, hearing the peaceful bubbling of water as you make your way through the trail, which happens to be full of unique historical sites.

Hisle Farm Park Outer Loop- Hisle Farm Park (Lexington)

This looping trail located in Lexington’s Hisle Farm Park is an easy and pleasant hike that both beginners and connoisseurs can appreciate. The wide-open, grassy terrain of Hisle Farm makes for a sunny and breezy walk amongst trees and other greenery– so bring your sunscreen! In addition to being a great place for hikers, Hisle Farm Park is also perfect for archery enthusiasts with its dedicated archery range.

Louisville Loop- Parklands of Floyd Fork (Louisville)

The Louisville Loop is still in progress, with its estimated final length reaching a whopping 100 miles. While Kentucky hikers anxiously await the full trail’s unveiling, visitors can still get a taste of what’s to come by taking a hike along the Floyds Fork segment of the trail. At over twenty miles long, this portion of the Louisville Loop is nothing to scoff at, but the terrain is easy to navigate for hikers of all levels thanks to being paved throughout. You can even take your four-legged friends here, provided you have them on a leash.

Millennium Trail- Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest (Clermont)

As the longest of the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest’s trails, the Millennium Trail is recommended for skilled hikers only. At nearly thirteen and a half miles, that’s no surprise, and you’ll even have to register at the visitor center before embarking on it to ensure maximum safety. There are several different ways you can begin the trail, all of which take you on a wild but beautiful ride through the nature preserve. Just be sure to watch out for ticks and poison ivy!

Red River Gorge

Central Kentucky offers some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the region, none more so than the Red River Gorge. Located in Wolfe County, this geological area is especially known for its breathtaking rock formations, many of which have been designated as Natural Bridges or Arches National Park by the National Park Service. In addition to these remarkable natural landmarks, the Red River Gorge also provides some of the most challenging hiking trails in the state. Experienced hikers will find plenty to explore on trails such as Gray’s Arch Trail, Chimney Top Rock Trail, and Auxier Ridge Trail. The area is especially popular among rock climbers, who flock from all over for a chance to try their hand at scaling. We recommend checking out RRG Elevate cabins inside the national forest if you want more information or spend the night in a magical treehouse. This is a rare opportunity that you wouldn’t want to miss!

From the winding creek bed of John Holder Trail in Winchester to the rocky terrain of River Gorge in Wolfe County, it has something for hikers and adventurers on every level. Whether you’re for a leisurely stroll on Hisle Farm Park Outer Loop or an adrenaline-pumping challenge like Millennium Trail, there are plenty of options awaiting you in the Bluegrass State. For those seeking an even more unique experience, don’t forget about RRG Elevate cabins located inside the national forest – it’s a one-of-a-kind opportunity that will surely be worth your while! So grab some friends, lace up your boots, and come explore all that Kentucky outdoors has to offer!

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