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If there are three issues that make Louisville (and all of Kentucky) special, it’s bourbon, horses, and exquisite forested landscapes. But folks don’t speak about Louisville’s natural beauty enough! Like, did you know that Louisville is home to the USA’s largest urban forest? Or an enormous city park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed NYC’s Central Park? Louisville is method under-the-radar, y’all.

Whether you’re exploring an city park in central Louisville, looking down an abandoned theme park, enjoyable on a seaside (yes, really!), exploring caves and waterfalls, or befriending wildlife (ethically) in the forest, Louisville – and simply exterior of it – has tons of opportunities to place on your hiking boots, strap in your hydro pack, and get out in nature! For extra adventures within the the wild, you may wish to check out New Zealand Trails.

This information to one of the best hikes in Louisville was written by Practical Wanderlust’s own Editor-in-Chief Richie Goff, Louisville resident and avid hiker. Take it away, Richie!

Psst: Planning extra adventures in Louisville? We have a BUNCH of posts about Louisville!It is my hometown, after all!Take a glance below at our different Louisville travel guides.

We even have a Podcast episode all about Louisville! Horse races, bourbon, baseball bats, and a…death tunnel? Today we inform the story of Lia’s hometown: Louisville, KY! We trace the history of town from its frontier origins to the modern-day. Louisville’s history runs deep, and it’s not at all times pretty. So pour yourself a bourbon and tune in. Unless you’re driving – that’s not cool.

Listen above or simply click on right here to launch your Podcast app! Oh, and don’t neglect to subscribe so that you don’t miss new episodes.

Oh! We’ve also compiled all of our suggestions for the place to go, what to do, where to go to, what & where to eat, and what & where to drink (and style bourbon) into one downloadable PDF Local’s Guide to Louisville. Subscribe under to get the obtain and save it to your smartphone or tablet to take with you on your trip to Louisville! We’ll also send you our favorite insider suggestions for visiting.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Kentucky has a variety of the most stunning, forested hiking!Hiking in Louisville: Things to Know
Here are a few ideas and tips that will help you head off onto the trails on the proper foot.

* Most of Louisville’s greatest hikes are outside of Louisville. Though there are lots of stunning parks in Louisville, there are even more state parks and forests exterior of town limits. An hour drive or much less will take you to a variety of the best hikes in the area.
* Spring and Fall are the most effective time to hike. Hiking in spring will exhibit Kentucky’s lovely wildflowers, and fall showcases colourful, altering leaves. Summer is also good – however sizzling – so plan to hike early on summer days.
* Bug repellant is your good friend. During the warmer months in Kentucky (May-September), not solely are the mosquitoes working rampant but there’s also ticks! If you are a prime all-you-can-eat blood financial institution like me, for the sake of your skin get some good bug repellent. You also can spray your garments earlier than you go with Permethrin spray for extra protection.
* Respect our stunning wilderness. Please bear in mind to follow all Leave No Trace Principles. They help to maintain this land what it’s: wild, lovely, pristine and healthy.
* Be respectful of wildlife. While you aren’t more probably to see greater than deer, birds and squirrels while hiking, do remember that there are snakes and coyotes within the forest as nicely. Give all animals a large berth, and keep in mind they’re extra frightened of you than you are of them.
* If you’re an ecowarrior, deliver a trash bag with you. I at all times find it a bit disheartening to see trash along the trail, so I attempt to deliver slightly trash bag and pick particles up alongside the means in which. Gloves can also be a great name, and don’t strive picking up broken glass or rusted cans (not that I know from experience…).
* Be respectful of others’ hiking experience. This means maintain your voice / music down for others to enjoy their hike. Nothing irks me greater than hearing folks screaming or blaring music for everyone to hear inside a mile radius. Rude.

The Best Hikes in Louisville
There isn’t any scarcity of incredible places to hike in Louisville! Most Louisville hiking trails are in their very own park methods, each of which has a myriad of hiking trails to choose from.

I’ve listed the most effective parks for hiking in Louisville, and my recommendations for hiking trails within each park.

Cherokee Park has loads of luscious forested trails with a beautiful assortment of native vegetation, just like the Trout Lily above!Cherokee Park
Cherokee Park is an enormous, beautiful park designed by Frederick Law Olmsted winding proper by way of the Highlands, the artsy, historic neighborhood in the course of Louisville.

Cherokee Park is hilly and forested over 389 acres, and thru it winds a myriad of walking paths, hiking trails, and biking routes.

It even boasts a 2.four mile scenic loop that you could stroll or do by car if you’re the kind of one who doesn’t get lost simply and is in a position to follow indicators (the secret is to maintain turning left to stay within the park, and turn proper to exit!).

While the scenic loop is good, it’s not quite an immersive pure experience. So let’s trek into the forest!

Cherokee Park Trail
* Distance: four.eight miles | Elevation Gain: 393ft | Difficulty: Easy | Trail Guide

While many guests to Cherokee park spend most of their time on the paved Scenic Loop, the real magic of Cherokee is discovered on the Cherokee Park Trail, a meandering loop that takes you through the true coronary heart of Cherokee Park.

The trail isn’t notably troublesome, it takes you up and down rolling, forested hills, passing by oaks and tulip poplar timber, across meadows and by rolling creeks. The beauty of the trail is that you could pretty much enter from wherever: the trail opens up and crosses numerous components of the scenic loop so you’ll have the ability to hop on, or off, whenever you like.

Along the loop, additionally, you will see plenty of birds, just like the cardinal, blue jay, hummingbirds, hawks, owls, and heron, and there’s even a fowl sanctuary alongside the trail for more critical ornithologists. Springtime is an especially stunning time to hike the loop: look down, and you will notice colorful spring flowers like yellow woodland poppies, white trout lilies, bluebells, and trillium.

The forests of Cherokee Park are nonetheless very a lot within the center of Louisville – although it doesn’t really feel particularly city – so you possibly can anticipate to see many hikers, joggers, and bikers on this trail, but it’s additionally lengthy enough that you’ll positively get some alone time.

Scott’s Gap Trail is doubtless considered one of the most fun trails in Louisville, with loads of mushrooms to gaze at – or forage – as you hike!Jefferson Memorial Forest
Jefferson Memorial Forest is the best place to go to get away from town (while still being within Louisville’s borders). Located simply half-hour from downtown, Jefferson Memorial feels like stepping out into undisturbed nature.

Which makes a lot of sense as a outcome of, at 6,500 acres, it’s the largest municipal city forest in the United States! I guess you didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Home to a lake and a designated Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson Memorial can also be where you’ll discover extra rugged and challenging hikes. Sure, we don’t have real mountains, but we now have some fairly steep hills, okay?

So when you wanna get away from all of it and get a taste for some true Kentucky b̶o̶u̶r̶b̶o̶n̶ nature, listed here are two glorious hiking trails:

Scott’s Gap Trail
* Distance: 3.3 miles | Elevation Gain: 776ft | Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult | Trail Guide

Starting at the aptly named Scott’s Gap parking lot, this hike will really give you a feel of the tougher Kentucky terrain but will reward you with one of the most gorgeous hikes within the Louisville area.

I recommend taking this trail counter-clockwise although it’ll make the first a half of this hike tougher, hiking up a fairly steep one hundred eighty ft. climb to the highest of a knob, however you’ll instantly be rewarded with a beautiful view of the rolling hills of Kentucky.

From the beautiful overlook, you’ll head alongside the ridgeline, canopies of bushes overhead with dipping ravines and hills throughout. At just over slightly of a half-mile you’ll come to a “shortcut” route, and when you select, you presumably can head back to the trailhead and solely do a 1.3 mile loop. But hey, you’ll miss the best part!

As you hike deeper into the forest, you’ll lose elevation, getting nearer to the forest flooring and taking in lush, Jurassic-looking ferns subsequent to the deep purple clay of Kentucky. Also, hold your eyes peeled for a rainbow myriad of mushrooms – I went in late July and photographed over 20 completely different varieties.

This trail really highlights the most effective part of Kentucky’s terrain, so this isn’t one to skip!

Mitchell Lake is beautiful and serene, and the right place for a picnic lunch! * Local Travel Tip: The greatest way to taste the best food in Louisville is on a food and history strolling tour with Louisville Food Tours! Explore the story of Louisville and Kentucky while tasting culinary classics like bourbon balls, biscuits, fried rooster, and – in fact – bourbon! Use the code PW10 for 10% off your reserving on the website.

Psst: We have a Louisville Food Tour company! Come take a tour with us! You can e-book a weekend tour on our web site and use the code PW10 for 10% off your reserving.
Yost Ridge Trail to Mitchell Lake Trail
* Distance: 3.2 miles | Elevation Gain: 800ft | Difficulty: Moderate | Trail Guide

For this explicit hike, you’ll start at the Jefferson Memorial Welcome Center, which is a great place to study Jefferson Memorial Forest, choose up a trail map, and hit the bogs earlier than you enterprise out.

The first a part of this hike takes you to the highest of the ridge, and should you maintain your eyes peeled, you can generally get a glimpse of downtown Louisville by way of the timber 7 miles away (in the winter it’s easily visible!).

After 1.1 miles of winding ridgeline, you’ll attain a sign for Mitchell Lake Trail and observe it down, deeper into the woods lined with pine timber, flecks of sun breaking by way of the canopy of timber.

You’ll finally reach one other fork for the loop around the pond: I counsel going to the left, and while it will take longer to get to the water, after a brief preliminary ascent most of it is downhill by way of lush ferns to the lake.

The lake itself is sunny and bright, and the perfect place to eat a picnic lunch! There are picnic benches simply for this reason, so take a load off and revel in this secluded and pleased spot.

Since this trail starts from the Welcome Center, expect it to be somewhat more crowded than a few of the other Jefferson Memorial Trails.

Harrods Creek is shallow enough to wade in; perfect for a warm day!Harrods Creek Park
Located about 20 minutes from downtown within the suburb of Prospect, Harrods Creek is positioned in a subdivision called Hunting Creek. So don’t be confused when you’re directed to drive up into a flowery neighborhood while considering “this can’t be proper, a spot to hike, here?!” It’s true! Sometimes we cover fabulous parks in fancy neighborhoods. (See also: Cherokee Park and the Highlands.)

You can both park on the street by the “Harrods Creek” signal and hike the trail in, or drive down a narrow street and attempt to park in the world’s tiniest car parking zone. I counsel the primary choice.

Blue Trail / Orange Trail
* Distance: 2.2 miles | Elevation Gain: 370ft | Difficulty: Easy | Trail Guide

After parking on Montero Drive, you’ll hike down into the forest by a little stream which will take you to the parking zone you didn’t park at. From there you’ll follow signs onto the blue trail, which is a rolling little path that will take you into a properly shaded forest.

Along the method in which, you’ll find two lookout points with swinging benches, where you possibly can sit and enjoy the views of rolling meadows below. You can just sit and simply take pleasure in nature, it’s allowed!

This trail also crosses little creeks on quaint wooden bridges and past massive moss-covered boulders that I like to assume are fairy house complexes.

The blue trail itself is pretty brief, and after a mile, you’ll reach what you came right here for – the beach! It’s a small but sandy seaside, but it’s the proper place to cease and relaxation for a while.

In the summer season you will find people picnicking on the shore, and wading within the cool, shallow water. Harrods Creek can also be a preferred kayaking spot, so you could see people cruising down the river.

Do remember that the opposite aspect of the creek is private property, so be respectful of the place you snoop around.

On the way again, you can either take the Blue trail again or the Orange trail. The Orange trail is the same distance but will take you strolling via the valley part that can be seen from the swinging benches. While a few of the Orange trail is shaded, most sections leave you exposed to the sun so be careful on sunny days!

The Parklands of Floyds Fork is extremely giant with a lot to see!The Parklands of Floyds Fork
The Parklands of Floyds Fork is situated about 20 miles away from downtown, where you’ll find a more rural a part of town and one of the largest parks in Louisville!

While I call it a “park”, it’s truly 4 separate parks that span over 4000 acres. This place is seriously ENORMOUS! You can do so many actions right here, together with exploring 60-miles of hiking trails. Who knows, you could even see a monster or two.

* Note from Lia: This is true near the household farm where I grew up! And yes, the Pope Lick Monster and the haunted practice trellis are very much a half of local lore…

Wild Hyacinth Trail
Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Gain: 144ft | Difficulty: Moderate | Trail Guide

The Wild Hyacinth Trail is positioned in Turkey Run Park, and let me let you know, it is a gem. I solely recently hiked it for this post, after seeing people raving about how that is the best hike within the Parklands. Within the primary couple minutes of hiking this trail, I started talking to a fellow hiker and I advised him it was my first time hiking this trail, and he mentioned, “this could also be one of the best hike in the whole park.” Facts are details, America.

To discover the trailhead you will want to park in the Ben Stout House parking zone, then take the paved trail across the road. You’ll instantly dip into a deep lush forest then throughout a hilly meadow, the place you will discover all sorts of wildflowers dotting the hills. There are black-eyed susans, echinacea, milkweed, and plenty of other colorful flowers with busy bees flitting backward and forward.

Once you head again into the forest, you will climb up and down rolling hills, passing alongside shallow streams and creeks.

Once you finish this stretch, you will move across the paved Louisville Loop, the primary pedestrian artery of the park, and the estimated 100-mile long loop that will finally encircle the town (stay tuned).

Head back into the forest and you’ll come to a fork in the highway: what to do! Well, it’s a loop, so go to the best or left (for this trail, it really doesn’t matter)!

Around the loop, you’ll pass luscious ferns, narrow tree-lined sections, and over shallow streams with limestone rock formations which are actually enjoyable to explore. This really has all the surroundings you’d want in a hike; don’t miss it!

Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden Trail
Distance: 1.1 miles | Elevation Gain: 147ft | Difficulty: Easy | Trail Guide

Located in Broadrun Park, the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden Trail is a straightforward hike, however one which packs in plenty of wildlife in somewhat house.

The Parklands designed the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden to indicate off the best of Kentucky native shade plants, masking this woodland hillside with 1000’s of native perennials, like mayapple, in addition to different shrubs and ferns. The thought was to create “spaces inside the undergrowth that really feel like rooms”, and that’s precisely what you can expect hiking by way of this woodland trail.

This trail takes you up a forested hillside along Floyds Fork, the main stream that cuts via the park, with beautiful overlooks of the water (and there are trails to take you down if you want a closer look).

Along the greatest way, there are benches, little trails that department off (like one with elevated stepping stones), and many whimsical, creative touches, like a stone arch bridge that was made in the conventional method of interlocking rocks.

This trail feels more like a magical experience, passing a big Venerable Oak, a Cathedral of cedars, and even a section named the “Garden of Whimsy”.

While this hike will not be for individuals looking for a blood-pumping experience, it’s positively price checking out to see what can be created with native plants, creativeness, and somewhat ingenuity.

The Best Hikes Near Louisville
If you don’t thoughts traveling about thirty minutes to an hour exterior town, there are a few extra hiking trails you must positively take a glance at. The extra travel time provides to the attract (I think) and generally a day trip is simply what you need to connect with nature!

Here’s the place to go for one of the best hiking near Louisville, and my suggestions for hiking trails in every spot.

The Forest Giants at Bernheim are created from pure supplies from the world and are crammed with personality!Bernheim Forest
Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is located about 30 miles south of Louisville, and is properly definitely price the drive to find the sixteen,137 acres of land and over forty miles of hiking trails.

Bernheim is a well-curated nature sanctuary – from their lovely welcome heart and cafe, to their big selection of occasions and programming (hello, night time hikes!), to the myriad of sculptures and art across the park. It’s the whole package!

The land for Bernheim was originally provided by Isaac Wolf Bernheim in 1929, who dedicated this land as a present to the folks of his new homeland after emigrating from Germany. Bernheim believed that land and nature are necessary for the guts, mind, and spirit, and that it’s regenerative for all people, no matter race, creed, or financial standing. And you understand what? It is!

Forest Giants Trail
* Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Gain: 50ft | Difficulty: Easy | Trail Guide

The largest attraction at Bernheim are the well-known Forest Giants, a set of three larger-than-life giants that had been created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo from pure supplies from the area. The giants have become the enduring marker of Bernheim, and other people flock to see these 30’+ natural statues. You may even read a fairytale story in regards to the Giants here!

The two-mile out-and-back trail takes you across Bernheim, starting from the Visitor Center. The first a half of the pathway is paved and takes you along the Olmstead Ponds, the place you will discover the primary Giant Little Nis, staring at his reflection within the pond. From there, you cross the Big Prairie – an expansive stretch of land in the center of the park which has native grasses and wildflowers.

Once you’ve crossed the prairie, you’ll enter the Sun and Shade Loop which will take you to the second giant – Mama Loumari! Mama Loumari reposes with her hand on her belly, pregnant with a brand new child giant.

The last part of the trail will take you throughout a quantity of bridges of Lake Nevin, previous the cypress tupelo swamp and magnolia timber, to see the final big, Little Elina, who sits by her lonesome holding a rock.

While this hike is generally paved and fairly simple, plenty of it is uncovered by timber so be positive to put on a sunhat and sunscreen. Also, arriving when the park opens will help you to be hiking with fewer individuals since this is a popular trail.

Elm Lick Trail
* Distance: 5 miles | Elevation Gain: 646ft | Difficulty: Difficult | Trail Guide

The first time I ever did the Elm Lick Trail in Bernheim I was on a trail operating kick, so decided to run this in the midst of summer with very little water. Don’t do that. 5 miles is a pretty long distance in the summertime without water, and your hike will be much more gratifying (and safer) with fluids!

That being mentioned, it is a beautiful hike near the again of Bernheim forest. Here you will actually really feel away from the city, and even the extra well-liked elements of Bernheim forest. It’s quiet, serene, and really offers you the impression of being out on your own within the wilderness.

The trail is a loop, and either way you go you’ll be descending about 646ft all the means down to the forest flooring from the hills above. Going clockwise will take you down a series of switchbacks, whereas going counterclockwise will take you on a steeper descent – I’d take into consideration which one you’d somewhat do on the finish of your hike!

On the forest flooring, you’ll pass over creeks and riverbeds, see irises (in spring) and other forest flora, and even encounter an old grain silo from ages previous. The forest is expansive all around you and there are many locations to stop for a picnic lunch, and a myriad of mushrooms to gander at as you hike alongside.

* Pro Tip: After your hike remember to try the Canopy Tree Walk, which is located a brief drive from the trail. The bridge takes you 75-feet over the forest canopy and is completely stunning in fall when you’ll find a way to see the bright purple, orange, and yellow leaves!

Charlestown State Park serves river views, lush forests, and deserted amusement parks.Charlestown State Park
This park is technically in Charlestown, Indiana, however at solely 30 minutes away from downtown Louisville, we are lumping this one into “Kentuckiana“.

This is among the finest locations inside a stone’s throw of Louisville to hike, and it’s an enormous 15,000-acre park that many Louisviillians haven’t taken the time to explore. And what’s extra, it’s right on the Ohio river, meaning some trails have river views! It’s palms down probably the greatest locations to go hiking near Louisville.

It is a state park, so entry in the course of the hotter months is $7 for Indiana residents and $9 for out-of-state guests.

Oh, and there is a 1920s deserted amusement park / resort. Whaaaaat?!Yes, y’all: welcome to Rose Island.

At Rose Island, you can discover the stays of what was as quickly as a jazz age scorching spot!Trail 3 / Trail 7 (Rose Island Loop)
* Distance: three miles | Elevation Gain: 370ft | Difficulty: Moderate | Trail Guide

So you’re here for some Nineteen Twenties abandoned amusement park lore, right? Good, I thought you may be! Originally, the island was bought by the Louisville Ferry Company in 1881, and became a well-liked stop for fancy Victorian vacationers on riverboat excursions from Louisville and different cities down the river.

In 1923 it became Rose Island – although it’s actually a peninsula – when it was purchased by businessman David Rose (no, not that David Rose) to turn into a summer resort. He added an amusement park with a small picket curler coaster, a dance hall, golf course, dining amenities, riverfront cottages, the Rose Island Hotel, and even a zoo with a wolf, monkeys, and a bear named “Teddy Rosevelt”.You know, everything you want as a fancy Victorian tourist to keep yourself amused.

Rose Island operated until the Great Flood of 1937 that submerged 70% of Louisville, which really put a damper on the vibe and it was left abandoned.

For photographs of Rose Island in its heyday, take a glance at this web site.

Today, you can uncover the ruins of a bygone period by taking creatively named Trail 3 down a steep, paved path (and I mean steep, you do have to be in first rate form to get again up it!) to the Rose Island Bridge, which will take you over to the ruins of what was as soon as a jazz age hotspot.

While there isn’t a ton to see there now, you’ll be able to visit the old swimming pool (now full of gravel), the old dance hall ruins, and the central stroll with giant iron archways which were as quickly as garlanded with roses. Along the way, there are interpretive indicators, and you can get close to the water and see the place the ghosts of yesteryear would have arrived by boat.

Once you’re completed exploring the park, you’ll take Trail three back by way of the woods, passing by massive moss-covered boulders and towering bushes. Or you presumably can merely hike back up the paved trail, which on a summer time day is unshaded, so positively put on a hat and sunscreen.

Trail 6
* Distance: 2.3 miles | Elevation Gain: 249ft | Difficulty: Moderate | Trail Guide

Trail 6 is correct down by the river, at the farthest end of the park. It’s a beautiful drive just to get there, passing by forests and meadows and all the plush greenery that inhabits the river’s edge. Driving to this trail additionally gives you a feel for a way massive this park really is.

Once you get down by the water, park at the first car parking zone you see (the Riverside Overlook), not the second (Charlestown Landing)! If you take a glance at this map you will see the trailhead is opposite the Riverside Overlook – it’s easy to overlook if you’re not maintaining your eyes peeled.

The first time I visited this trail I parked at Charlestown Landing and walked around for a small eternity trying to figure out where the F the rattling trailhead was. Eventually, I needed to ask an worker. So don’t make the same mistake I did!

This trail first takes you through a stretch of dense forest, then up a steep little part till you attain the highest of a river bluff. From there you presumably can see the dashing Ohio river through the trees as you make your method deeper alongside the bluff into the forest, crossing a bridge over a waterfall.

Along the way you’ll see colourful mushrooms and hear birds singing within the tree cover above, in addition to stone ruins of old buildings. As you near the tip of the bluff, you’ll come to a meadow coated in wildflowers (especially in spring). Then, the trail then winds all the means down to take you again to avenue level.

The last stretch is along the underside of the river bluff, with towering limestone to your right. Eventually, it turns into a gravel highway as you cross an old ammunition plant, leading you back to the parking zone the place you started.

There are so many pretty spots along Deam Lake to hold around and luxuriate in an attractive day.Deam Lake
Located about half-hour from downtown Louisville, Deam Lake State Recreation Area is situated in Carr Township, Indiana. The drive into rural Indiana is pastoral and peaceful; it’s nice to depart town behind, isn’t it?

Most visitors to Deam Lake are coming to swim within the heat water and loosen up on the sandy seashore: Deam Lake is one of the best and closest seashore to Louisville, and makes a unbelievable summer day trip. But within the cooler months, it’s also an exquisite place to go hiking.

The 194-acre lake was fabricated in 1965 – sure, it’s a man-made lake – and named after Charles Deam, Indiana’s first state forester. It’s onerous to imagine this lake was constructed and not at all times there, with whitetail deer, turkey, and foxes operating about, milkweed lining the lake, and all the other flora and fauna that have thrived within the new environment.

Knobstone Trail
* Distance: 2 miles~ | Elevation Gain: 100ft~ | Difficulty: Easy | Trail Guide

Knobstone Trail is a trail. What I imply by that is that is actually 60 miles long and the longest within the state of Indiana! While you would hike all of this if you’re a hardcore hiker, the abridged version is extra leisurely, and I suppose, a nicer method to spend an afternoon.

The real reason I love the trail is that, after a brief descent into the woods, you come along a grassy trail that takes you throughout a grassy dam on the southern a part of the lake. Wildflowers blow within the breeze off the lake and you may watch swimmers, boaters, and kayakers within the distance. This is a perfect spot to bring a picnic and feel like you’re in a Studio Ghibli film; it’s extremely pastoral and stress-free.

You can maintain heading throughout and up into the woods, which will take you on a moderately large ascent and afford pretty lake views from a higher elevation, eventually taking you up north previous the lake altogether.

But personally, I counsel walking throughout the scenic dam after which treating yourself to a swim within the lake from the sandy beach!

You’ll discover the Knobstone Trailhead by making a right on the first highway you come throughout once you enter the park.

Clifty Falls has each waterfalls and (nananananananana) bat caves!Clifty Falls State Park
Located about an hour from Louisville within the charming metropolis of Madison, Indiana, Clifty Falls State Park has trails surrounding a canyon, with waterfalls spilling from impressive precipices into the depths under. It also has several bat caves and has a few of the extra elevated hiking trails within the area.

Trails #5 (Tunnel Falls to Lily Memorial)
* Distance: 1.seventy five miles | Elevation Gain: 305ft | Difficulty: Moderate | Trail Guide

Trails #5 is a 1.seventy five mile out and back trail, taking you along the tree-lined, limestone cliffs. From the parking lot, you’ll take a protracted set of stairs down until you attain the trail alongside the precipice of the cliff. If you are trying to see a waterfall, fortunate for you, there’s one proper there!

Casacading into the gorge under is 83′ Tunnel Falls, which is the most important within the park and one of many largest in Indiana. According to the park web site, the waterfalls within the park “change moods with the climate and the seasons and might vary from roaring plunges to delicate bridal-veil mists to gleaming frozen titans.” Definitely an excuse to go to during all seasons!

As you continue along the embankment with the towering cliffside in your left of you and the gorge on your proper, you’ll cross various picket bridge and pass lush shade-loving plants like ferns. Soon you’ll approach the star of this trail: the bat cave!

What was initially dug as a train tunnel in 1852 after which abandoned, the 600-foot long cave is now house to bats which hibernate in the late fall via the winter. You can hike though the cave from May 1st – October thirty first, and though the cave is not too long it’s nonetheless fairly dark and damp, so remember to bring a headlamp. Inside you’ll discover a small waterfall and a pool, and maintain your eyes peele for cave spiders, bats, and red-spotted salamanders – all the higher cause to have a lightweight source!

Once you exit the cave, you’ll follow alongside the gorge extra till you attain the road. You can observe the street back, however hiking the trail again shall be extra scenic. And you’ll find a way to enterprise into the bat cave…. again!

Want to make a day trip of it? Madison is one of our favorite weekend getaways in Indiana – read this submit for extra particulars.

The Abbey of Gethsemani is my favorite day trip for hiking: you’re nicely away from the noise of the city and might see lotuses within the wild!Abbey of Gethsemani
About an hour-long drive exterior of Louisville, close to the city of Bardstown (of Bourbon distillery fame) is the Abbey of Gethsemani, which is known for its well-known Trappist Monk Thomas Merton.

The Abbey is still a working monastery, and what a lot of people don’t know is that it additionally has 1,500 acres of forests, lakes, and knobs to discover, making it one of the best alternatives for hiking near Louisville!

Trail to the Statues
* Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Gain: 124ft | Difficulty: Easy | Trail Guide

If you haven’t been to Gethsemani before, the remoteness and solitude of the monastery surrounded by timber, fields, and nature will certainly deliver on an immediate feeling of calmness. What might disrupt your chill, however, is looking for the dang traiheadl!

The first time I visited I couldn’t figure it out, but as soon as you realize where it’s it’s easy. Cross Monks Road (the street you got here in on) and head north till you come throughout slightly opening within the woods with an indication that says “trail to statues”.

The trail itself is a simple, 2-ish mile out and again trail. The first part takes you thru the woods until you come across a giant pond, which in the summer, is full of big, blooming lotuses. From there, you’ll take a set of steep stairs that can take you alongside a ridge in the woods, passing spiritual statues and varied rock formations. In the spring, trout lilies line the trail as properly.

As you get nearer to the “Statues” proper, you’ll pass larger and extra impressive statues, like one of the Virgin Mary in a stark, modern, trendy fashion.

Eventually, the forest opens as much as broad, rolling hills, however you’ll hug one other forested space to go into the Statues forest, which is a small loop with depictions of the Stations of the Cross.

Even if you aren’t notably spiritual, this hike is definitely value the drive from Louisville for such a distant slice of nature.

Left: Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville Kentucky on a fall day. While not officially a hike, Cave Hill is a wonderful place to go for an extended stroll in Louisville! Right: the biking path throughout the river from downtown Louisville, which you can hike or bike, if you like.Bonus: Even More Louisville Hikes!
Look, there’s NO scarcity of wonderful hikes in Louisville, KY and the adjoining areas. But I haven’t carried out them all, and this post is already fairly darn long.

So, I wished to share with you the remainder of the hikes on my To Do list! Many of them have been sourced from my neighbor who’s an avid hiker (and Practical Wanderlust reader, hi Ben!) as nicely as my own analysis.

I hope you don’t thoughts that I haven’t included a complete write-up for every of these – but after I complete them, I will!

* Millennium Trail, Bernheim Forest.thirteen.75 miles, 2,280 ft elevation acquire. This is by far the longest trail in Bernheim, so lengthy that you have to examine in on the visitor’s center or at the trailhead before beginning (so they know who returns… and who doesn’t). According to the internet site it takes 6-7 hours to complete, and the trail “winds through ridges of oak-hickory forests to valleys and streams of beech-maple forests” which sounds frankly gorgreous.
* Coral Ridge Loop, Jefferson Memorial Forest. 2.9 miles, 328 ft elevation acquire. This loop affords you gorgeous views of wildflowers, loads of shade, and a surprising view of Louisville in the north!
* Otter Creek Trail, Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area.8.6 miles, 721 ft elevation achieve. I actually have by no means been to Otter Creek, nevertheless it appears so darn fairly. There are loads of shorter trails you’ll be able to take as well. There is also a spot to swim at the blue gap swimming space – I’m there!
* Rocky Ridge Bike and Hike Trail, Harrison-Crawford State Forest.2 miles, 200 ft elevation achieve. This loop trail goes via deep ravines, up scenic rocky slopes, and has gorgeous views of the Blue River. Sounds like a winner!
* Garvin Brown Nature Preserve, Prospect, Louisville.2ish miles, flat. While this isn’t so much of a proper hike, this 46-acre nature protect is the right place to stroll down by the Ohio river and enjoy wildflowers and sunshine.
* Iroquois Park Overlook, Iroquois Park.1.2 miles, 213 ft elevation achieve. Iroquois Park is another Louisville Olmsted Park, and the real gem of it is the overlook at the top! Hike your means up and be rewarded with gorgeous views of town within the distance. You’re welcome.

Left: Lia modeling her hydration pack and favourite hiking pants. Right: Lia making an attempt to not fall into the creek at Clifty Falls on a light winter day. Hiking Tip: trekking poles and waterproof socks are useful here!Day Hiking Essentials
Before we send you off in your hike, listed below are ourabsolute must-have day hiking essentials.

* oz of water:Bring water! Seriously, don’t skimp. We at all times bring aHydration Packfilled with clear water and snacks. You’ll nonetheless have room for the the rest of our gear, too.
* Hiking Shoes & Socks:We prefer to hike inTrail Runners(his&hers) quite than heavy obligation hiking boots – they’re light-weight and journey pleasant, extra flexible and comfortable, they usually dry super rapidly when it rains or after a water crossing, so your toes will stay toasty and try. Pair them with well-made wool socks. Our favourite wool sock model isDarn Tough: they’re gentle, durable, and they include a lifetime assure in the event of holes(that’s how you know it’s real).When issues start getting moist, pull a pairwaterproof sockson over top of your wool socks to keep your ft dry and blister-free.
* Sun & Heat Protection: On uncovered trails, even when it’s chilly you’ll be getting lots of sun publicity. Slather on excessive SPF sunscreen on any exposed pores and skin, including SPF chapstick to guard your lips. To protect yourself from noon warmth, keep a bandana or buff round your neck so you presumably can soak it in water and maintain your core temperature down – or use it as a tieback on your hair. Sunglasses and a sun hat go a protracted way to protecting your face and eyes from the sun as properly.
* Snacks: A hungry hike is a depressing hike! Always convey a snack, even for a brief hike, simply in case your hike goes on longer than deliberate. You want one thing nutritious, with a good mixture of advanced carbs, fat, protein, and electrolytes to gasoline your body. My favourite hiking snacks are peanut butter filled pretzels, dried fruit(like apple rings or dried mango),and almonds.
* Headlamps:If there’s any probability you’ll be starting your hike before dawn, hiking after darkish, or exploring a cave, convey an excellent headlamp like this one to gentle your means hands-free. They’re small and light-weight and simply fit in any pack. Bring one. YES, even on a day hike! You never know if you might need it and if you do, you’ll be SO glad you brought it. (After our disastrous night-hiking incident inCataract Falls,I’ll never hike without a headlamp once more even when I’m beginning properly after daybreak.)
* First Aid Kit:You want a primary aid package that covers you in the occasion of a variety of calamities. We happen to be disaster magnets, so we’ve whipped ours out a couple of times. Your first assist package doesn’t need to be huge – this one is fairly small – but it should have the fundamentals. If you’re DIY-ing your own, we advocate including bandaids, sterile alcohol wipes, waterproof matches, burn and bite therapy, andmoleskin patchesfor if you feel a blister coming on, which may simply change your quick pace right into a disastrously sluggish one! Be certain to include acompass as well.
* Whistle: This teeny tiny little device takes up no area in your pack however is an extremely useful emergency device. Not only does a whistle assist sign individuals off within the distance if you ought to turn out to be harm, but it can be useful in scaring off wildlife predators.
* Emergency Walkie-Talkies:I know theseRadio Signaling Walkie-Talkiesare overkill for most hikes. But if you’re going a little further away from civilization or heading into probably dicey weather conditions, these simply might save your a$$. These unhealthy boys have a 35-mile mountain to valley range, are absolutely waterproof (and actually have a water-activated flashlight, nifty), and have a handy emergency alert button that will despatched out a signal the minute you need assistance. Sure, you’ll in all probability never want to use them… but think of them as the best insurance coverage coverage you’ll ever purchase.

About the Author: Richie Goff is a Louisville native and has a great love of the outdoors. When he isn’t growing flowers for fun (and generally profit), he’s the Editor-in-Chief of Practical Wanderlust. He has been a friend of Lia’s since highschool, and they have taken plenty of their very own diaster-prone adventures together!

Which hike are you hitting first? Leave us a remark below!

Psst: Planning more adventures in Louisville? We have a BUNCH of posts about Louisville!It is my hometown, after all!Take a look beneath at our different Louisville journey guides.

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The Best Thirteen Hikes In Louisville Kentucky A Locals Guide
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