The best hikes in Louisville, Kentucky! Also includes the best hikes NEAR Louisville.

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If there are three issues that make Louisville (and all of Kentucky) particular, it’s bourbon, horses, and delightful forested landscapes. However folks don’t speak about Louisville’s pure magnificence sufficient! Like, do you know that Louisville is residence to the USA’s largest city forest? Or an enormous city park designed by Frederick Regulation Olmsted, who additionally designed NYC’s Central Park? Louisville is manner under-the-radar, y’all.

Whether or not you’re exploring an city park in central Louisville, looking down an deserted theme park, stress-free on a seashore (sure, actually!), exploring caves and waterfalls, or befriending wildlife (ethically) within the forest, Louisville – and simply exterior of it – has tons of alternatives to place in your mountain climbing boots, strap in your hydro pack, and get out in nature!

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

Psst: Planning extra adventures in Louisville? We now have a BUNCH of posts about LouisvilleIt’s my hometown, in any case! Have a look under at our different Louisville journey guides.


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We even have a Podcast episode all about Louisville! Horse races, bourbon, baseball bats, and a…demise tunnel? In the present day we inform the story of Lia’s hometown: Louisville, KY! We hint the historical past of town from its frontier origins to the modern-day. Louisville’s historical past runs deep, and it’s not at all times fairly. So pour your self a bourbon and tune in. Except you’re driving – that’s not cool.

Hear above or just click here to launch your Podcast app! Oh, and don’t overlook to subscribe so that you don’t miss new episodes.

Oh! We’ve additionally compiled all of our options for the place to go, what to do, the place to go to, what & the place to eat, and what & the place to drink (and style bourbon) into one downloadable PDF Native’s Information to Louisville. Subscribe under to get the obtain and put it aside to your smartphone or pill to take with you in your journey to Louisville! We’ll additionally ship you our favourite insider ideas for visiting.

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We have compiled every part it’s essential know for a visit to Louisville right into a downloadable Native’s Information to Louisville. Print it out & take it with you! We’ll additionally ship you insider ideas that will help you plan your go to.

hiker at harrods creek in prospect kentucky
I’m going to exit on a limb and say that Kentucky has among the most stunning, forested mountain climbing!

Mountaineering in Louisville: Issues to Know

Listed below are a couple of ideas and tips that will help you head off onto the paths on the best foot.

  • Most of Louisville’s greatest hikes are exterior of Louisville. Although there are many stunning parks in Louisville, there are much more state parks and forests exterior of town limits. An hour drive or much less will take you to among the greatest hikes within the space.
  • Spring and Fall are the very best time to hike. Mountaineering in spring will exhibit Kentucky’s stunning wildflowers, and fall showcases colourful, altering leaves. Summer season can be good – however scorching – so plan to hike early on summer time days.
  • Bug repellant is your buddy. Through the hotter months in Kentucky (Might-September), not solely are the mosquitoes working rampant however there’s additionally ticks! If you’re a main all-you-can-eat blood financial institution like me, for the sake of your pores and skin get some good bug repellent. You may as well spray your garments earlier than you go together with Permethrin spray for additional safety.
  • Respect our stunning wilderness. Please bear in mind to observe all Leave No Trace Principles. They assist to maintain this land what it’s:  wild, pretty, pristine and wholesome.
  • Be respectful of wildlife. If you are not more likely to see greater than deer, birds and squirrels whereas mountain climbing, do remember that there are snakes and coyotes within the forest as properly. Give all animals a large berth, and be mindful they’re extra afraid of you than you might be of them.
  • If you happen to’re an ecowarrior, deliver a trash bag with you. I at all times discover it a bit disheartening to see trash alongside the path, so I attempt to deliver a little bit trash bag and choose particles up alongside the way in which. Gloves can also be an excellent name, and don’t attempt choosing up damaged glass or rusted cans (not that I do know from expertise…).
  • Be respectful of others’ mountain climbing expertise. This implies hold your voice / music down for others to take pleasure in their hike. Nothing irks me greater than listening to folks screaming or blaring music for everybody to listen to inside a mile radius. Impolite.


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The Finest Hikes in Louisville

There isn’t any scarcity of implausible locations to hike in Louisville! Most Louisville mountain climbing trails are in their very own park methods, every of which has a myriad of mountain climbing trails to select from.

I’ve listed the very best parks for mountain climbing in Louisville, and my suggestions for mountain climbing trails inside every park. 

Cherokee Park

Cherokee Park is an enormous, stunning park designed by Frederick Regulation Olmsted winding proper by way of the Highlands, the artsy, historic neighborhood in the midst of Louisville.

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

It even boasts a 2.4 mile scenic loop that you could stroll or do by automotive in the event you’re the form of one who doesn’t get misplaced simply and is ready to observe indicators (the key is to maintain turning left to remain within the park, and switch proper to exit!).

Whereas the scenic loop is sweet, it’s not fairly an immersive pure expertise. So let’s trek into the forest!

Cherokee Park Path

  • Distance: 4.8 miles | Elevation Acquire: 393ft | Issue: Simple | Trail Guide 

Whereas many guests to Cherokee park spend most of their time on the paved Scenic Loop, the actual magic of Cherokee is discovered on the Cherokee Park Path, a meandering loop that takes you thru the true coronary heart of Cherokee Park.

The path isn’t significantly tough, it takes you up and down rolling, forested hills, passing by oaks and tulip poplar bushes, throughout meadows and by rolling creeks. The wonderful thing about the path is that you could just about enter from wherever: the path opens up and crosses numerous elements of the scenic loop so you’ll be able to hop on, or off, everytime you like. 

Alongside the loop, additionally, you will see loads of birds, just like the cardinal, blue jay, hummingbirds, hawks, owls, and heron, and there may be even a chicken sanctuary alongside the path for extra severe ornithologists. Springtime is an particularly 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 middle of Louisville – although it doesn’t really feel significantly city – so you’ll be able to anticipate to see many hikers, joggers, and bikers on this path, nevertheless it’s additionally lengthy sufficient that you’ll undoubtedly get some alone time. 

Jefferson Memorial Forest

Jefferson Memorial Forest is the very best place to go to get away from town (whereas nonetheless being inside Louisville’s borders). Situated simply half-hour from downtown, Jefferson Memorial appears like stepping out into undisturbed nature.

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

Residence to a lake and a chosen Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson Memorial can be the place you’ll discover extra rugged and difficult hikes. Positive, we don’t have actual mountains, however we’ve got some fairly steep hills, okay?

So in the event you wanna get away from all of it and get a style for some true Kentucky b̶o̶u̶r̶b̶o̶n̶ nature, listed here are two wonderful mountain climbing trails:

Scott’s Hole Path

  • Distance: 3.3 miles | Elevation Acquire: 776ft | Issue: Average-Troublesome | Trail Guide

Beginning on the aptly named Scott’s Hole parking zone, this hike will actually offer you a really feel of the tougher Kentucky terrain however will reward you with probably the most gorgeous hikes within the Louisville space.

I counsel taking this path counter-clockwise though it’ll make the primary a part of this hike tougher, mountain climbing up a reasonably steep 180 ft. climb to the highest of a knob, however you’ll instantly be rewarded with a stunning 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 simply over a little bit of a half-mile you’ll come to a “shortcut” route, and in the event you select, you’ll be able to head again to the trailhead and solely do a 1.3 mile loop. However hey, you’ll miss the very best half!

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 crimson clay of Kentucky. Additionally, hold your eyes peeled for a rainbow myriad of mushrooms – I went in late July and photographed over 20 completely different varieties.

This path actually highlights the very best a part of Kentucky’s terrain, so this isn’t one to skip!

mitchell lake in jefferson memorial forest in fairdale kentucky
Mitchell Lake is gorgeous and serene, and the proper place for a picnic lunch!

Yost Ridge Path to Mitchell Lake Path

  • Distance: 3.2 miles | Elevation Acquire: 800ft | Issue: Average | Trail Guide

For this specific hike, you’ll begin on the Jefferson Memorial Welcome Center, which is a superb place to study Jefferson Memorial Forest, choose up a path map, and hit the bogs earlier than you enterprise out.

The primary a part of this hike takes you to the highest of the ridge, and in the event you hold your eyes peeled, you’ll be able to generally get a glimpse of downtown Louisville by way of the bushes 7 miles away (within the winter it’s simply seen!). 

After 1.1 miles of winding ridgeline, you’ll attain an indication for Mitchell Lake Path and observe it down, deeper into the woods lined with pine bushes, flecks of solar breaking by way of the cover of bushes.

You’ll ultimately attain one other fork for the loop across the pond: I counsel going to the left, and whereas it’s going to take longer to get to the water, after a brief preliminary ascent most of it’s downhill by way of lush ferns to the lake.

The lake itself is sunny and vibrant, and the proper place to eat a picnic lunch! There are picnic benches simply because of this, so take a load off and luxuriate in this secluded and completely satisfied spot. 

Since this path begins from the Welcome Middle, anticipate it to be a little bit extra crowded than among the different Jefferson Memorial Trails.


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harrods creek in prospect ky
Harrods Creek is shallow sufficient to wade in; excellent for a heat day!

Harrods Creek Park

Situated about 20 minutes from downtown within the suburb of Prospect, Harrods Creek is positioned in a subdivision referred to as Looking Creek. So don’t be confused while you’re directed to drive up into a elaborate neighborhood whereas considering “this could’t be proper, a spot to hike, right here?!” It’s true! Typically we disguise fabulous parks in fancy neighborhoods. (See additionally: Cherokee Park and the Highlands.)

You may both park on the street by the “Harrods Creek” signal and hike the path in, or drive down a slim street and attempt to park on this planet’s tiniest parking zone. I counsel the primary choice. 

Blue Path / Orange Path

  • Distance: 2.2 miles | Elevation Acquire: 370ft | Issue: Simple | Trail Guide

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

Alongside the way in which, you’ll discover two lookout factors with swinging benches, the place you’ll be able to sit and benefit from the views of rolling meadows under. You may simply sit and simply take pleasure in nature, it’s allowed!

This path additionally crosses little creeks on quaint wood bridges and previous large moss-covered boulders that I prefer to assume are fairy house complexes.

The blue path itself is fairly quick, and after a mile, you’ll attain what you got here right here for – the seashore! It’s a small however sandy seashore, nevertheless it’s the proper place to cease and relaxation for some time.

In the summertime you’ll discover folks picnicking on the shore, and wading within the cool, shallow water. Harrods Creek can be a well-liked kayaking spot, so you might even see folks cruising down the river.

Do understand that the other aspect of the creek is non-public property, so be respectful of the place you snoop round.

On the way in which again, you’ll be able to both take the Blue path again or the Orange path. The Orange path is similar distance however will take you strolling by way of the valley part that may be seen from the swinging benches. Whereas among the Orange path is shaded, most sections depart you uncovered to the solar so watch out on sunny days!


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The Parklands of Floyds Fork

The Parklands of Floyds Fork is positioned about 20 miles away from downtown, the place you’ll discover a extra rural a part of town and one of many greatest parks in Louisville!

Whereas I name it a “park”, it’s really 4 separate parks that span over 4000 acres. This place is significantly ENORMOUS! You are able to do so many actions right here, together with exploring 60-miles of mountain climbing trails. Who is aware of, you might even see a monster or two.

  • Word from Lia: That is proper close to the household farm the place I grew up! And sure, the Pope Lick Monster and the haunted prepare trellis are very a lot a part of native lore…

Wild Hyacinth Path

Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Acquire: 144ft | Issue: Average | Trail Guide

The Wild Hyacinth Path is positioned in Turkey Run Park, and let me inform you, it’s a gem. I solely just lately hiked it for this publish, after seeing folks raving about how that is the very best hike within the Parklands. Throughout the first couple minutes of mountain climbing this path, I began speaking to a fellow hiker and I informed him it was my first time mountain climbing this path, and he mentioned, “this can be the very best hike in the entire park.” Details are details, America.

To search out the trailhead you have to to park within the Ben Stout House parking zone, then take the paved path throughout the road. You’ll instantly dip right into a deep lush forest then throughout a hilly meadow, the place you’ll discover all types of wildflowers dotting the hills. There are black-eyed susans, echinacea, milkweed, and loads of different colourful flowers with busy bees flitting back and forth.

When you head again into the forest, you’ll climb up and down rolling hills, passing alongside shallow streams and creeks.

When you end this stretch, you’ll move throughout the paved Louisville Loop, the primary pedestrian artery of the park, and the estimated 100-mile lengthy loop that can ultimately encircle town (keep tuned).

Head again into the forest and you’ll come to a fork within the street: what to do! Effectively, it’s a loop, so go to the best or left (for this path, it actually doesn’t matter)!

Across the loop, you’ll move luscious ferns, slim tree-lined sections, and over shallow streams with limestone rock formations that are actually enjoyable to discover. This actually has all of the surroundings you’d need in a hike; don’t miss it!

Moss Gibbs Woodland Backyard Path

Distance: 1.1 miles | Elevation Acquire: 147ft | Issue: Simple | Trail Guide

Situated in Broadrun Park, the Moss Gibbs Woodland Backyard Path is a simple hike, however one which packs in quite a lot of wildlife in a little bit area. 

The Parklands designed the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden to point out off the very best of Kentucky native shade vegetation, protecting this woodland hillside with hundreds of native perennials, like mayapple, in addition to different shrubs and ferns. The thought was to create “areas inside the undergrowth that really feel like rooms”, and that’s precisely what you’ll be able to anticipate mountain climbing by way of this woodland path.

This path takes you up a forested hillside alongside Floyds Fork, the primary stream that cuts by way of the park, with gorgeous overlooks of the water (and there are trails to take you down if you need a more in-depth look).

Alongside the way in which, there are benches, little trails that department off (like one with elevated stepping stones), and many whimsical, inventive touches, like a stone arch bridge that was made within the conventional manner of interlocking rocks.

This path feels extra like a magical expertise, passing a big Venerable Oak, a Cathedral of cedars, and even a bit named the “Backyard of Whimsy”.

Whereas this hike might not be for folks on the lookout for a blood-pumping expertise, it’s undoubtedly value testing to see what might be created with native vegetation, creativeness, and a little bit ingenuity. 


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The Finest Hikes Close to Louisville

If you happen to don’t thoughts touring about thirty minutes to an hour exterior town, there are a couple of extra mountain climbing trails you need to undoubtedly take a look at. The additional journey time provides to the attract (I feel) and generally a day journey is simply what it’s essential join with nature!

Right here’s the place to go for the very best mountain climbing close to Louisville, and my suggestions for mountain climbing trails in every spot.

Bernheim Forest

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is positioned about 30 miles south of Louisville, and is properly definitely worth the drive to find the 16,137 acres of land and over 40 miles of mountain climbing trails.

Bernheim is a well-curated nature sanctuary – from their stunning welcome center and cafe, to their big range of events and programming (howdy, night hikes!), to the myriad of sculptures and art across the park. It’s the entire package deal!

The land for Bernheim was initially offered by Isaac Wolf Bernheim in 1929, who devoted 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, thoughts, and spirit, and that it’s regenerative for all folks, no matter race, creed, or financial standing. And you understand what? It’s!

Forest Giants Path

  • Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Acquire: 50ft | Issue: Simple | Trail Guide

The largest attraction at Bernheim are the well-known Forest Giants, a group of three larger-than-life giants that had been created by Danish artist Thomas Dambo from pure supplies from the area. The giants have turn into the enduring marker of Bernheim, and folks flock to see these 30’+ pure statues. You may even learn a fairytale story concerning the Giants here!

The 2-mile out-and-back path takes you throughout Bernheim, ranging from the Customer Middle. The primary a part of the pathway is paved and takes you alongside the Olmstead Ponds, the place you’ll discover the primary Big Little Nis, looking at his reflection within the pond. From there, you cross the Huge Prairie – an expansive stretch of land in the midst of the park which has native grasses and wildflowers. 

When you’ve crossed the prairie, you’ll enter the Solar and Shade Loop which can take you to the second large – Mama Loumari! Mama Loumari reposes together with her hand on her stomach, pregnant with a brand new child large.

The ultimate part of the path will take you throughout a number of bridges of Lake Nevin, previous the cypress tupelo swamp and magnolia bushes, to see the ultimate large, Little Elina, who sits by her lonesome holding a rock. 

Whereas this hike is generally paved and fairly straightforward, quite a lot of it’s uncovered by bushes so be sure you put on a sunhat and sunscreen. Additionally, arriving when the park opens will enable you to be mountain climbing with fewer folks since this can be a in style path.

Elm Lick Path

  • Distance: 5 miles | Elevation Acquire: 646ft | Issue: Troublesome | Trail Guide

The primary time I ever did the Elm Lick Path in Bernheim I used to be on a path working kick, so determined to run this in the midst of summer time with little or no water. Don’t do that. 5 miles is a reasonably lengthy distance in the summertime with out water, and your hike will likely be much more satisfying (and safer) with fluids!

That being mentioned, this can be a beautiful hike close to the again of Bernheim forest. Right here you’ll actually really feel away from town, and even the extra in style elements of Bernheim forest. It’s quiet, serene, and actually provides you the impression of being out by yourself within the wilderness.

The path is a loop, and both manner you go you’ll be descending about 646ft right down to the forest flooring from the hills above. Going clockwise will take you down a sequence of switchbacks, whereas going counterclockwise will take you on a steeper descent – I’d take into consideration which one you’d reasonably do on the finish of your hike!

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

  • Professional Tip: After your hike be sure you take a look at the Cover Tree Stroll, which is positioned a brief drive from the path. The bridge takes you 75-feet over the forest cover and is completely gorgeous in fall when you’ll be able to see the brilliant crimson, orange, and yellow leaves!


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Charlestown State Park

This park is technically in Charlestown, Indiana, however at solely half-hour away from downtown Louisville, we’re lumping this one into “Kentuckiana“.

This is likely one of the greatest 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 discover. And what’s extra, it’s proper on the Ohio river, which means some trails have river views! It’s palms down among the best locations to go mountain climbing close to Louisville.

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

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

rose island at charlestown state park indiana
At Rose Island, you’ll be able to discover the stays of what was as soon as a jazz age scorching spot!

Path 3 / Path 7 (Rose Island Loop)

  • Distance: 3 miles | Elevation Acquire: 370ft | Issue: Average | Trail Guide

So that you’re right here for some Twenties deserted amusement park lore, proper? Good, I believed you could be! Initially, the island was bought by the Louisville Ferry Firm in 1881, and have become a well-liked cease for fancy Victorian vacationers on riverboat excursions from Louisville and different cities down the river. 

In 1923 it turned Rose Island – although it’s actually a peninsula – when it was bought by businessman David Rose (no, not that David Rose) to turn into a summer time resort. He added an amusement park with a small wood curler coaster, a dance corridor, golf course, eating services, riverfront cottages, the Rose Island Resort, and even a zoo with a wolf, monkeys, and a bear named “Teddy Rosevelt”. , every part you want as a elaborate Victorian vacationer to maintain your self amused.

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

For images of Rose Island in its heyday, take a look at this website.

In the present day, you’ll be able to uncover the ruins of a bygone period by taking creatively named Path 3 down a steep, paved path (and I imply steep, you do should be in respectable form to get again up it!) to the Rose Island Bridge, which can take you over to the ruins of what was as soon as a jazz age hotspot.

Whereas there isn’t a ton to see there now, you’ll be able to go to the previous swimming pool (now full of gravel), the previous dance corridor ruins, and the central stroll with massive iron archways which had been as soon as garlanded with roses. Alongside the way in which, there are interpretive indicators, and you may get near the water and see the place the ghosts of yesteryear would have arrived by boat. 

When you’re completed exploring the park, you’ll take Path 3 again by way of the woods, passing by large moss-covered boulders and towering bushes. Or you’ll be able to merely hike again up the paved path, which on a summer time day is unshaded, so undoubtedly put on a hat and sunscreen.


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Path 6

  • Distance: 2.3 miles | Elevation Acquire: 249ft | Issue: Average | Trail Guide

Path 6 is true down by the river, on the farthest finish of the park. It’s a ravishing drive simply to get there, passing by forests and meadows and all the plush greenery that inhabits the river’s edge. Driving to this path additionally provides you a really feel for the way large this park actually is.

When you get down by the water, park on the first parking zone you see (the Riverside Overlook), not the second (Charlestown Touchdown)! If you happen to take a look at this map you will notice the trailhead is reverse the Riverside Overlook – it’s straightforward to overlook in the event you’re not preserving your eyes peeled.

The primary time I visited this path I parked at Charlestown Touchdown and walked round for a small eternity attempting to determine the place the F the rattling trailhead was. Finally, I needed to ask an worker. So don’t make the identical mistake I did!

This path first takes you thru a stretch of dense forest, then up a steep little part till you attain the highest of a river bluff. From there you’ll be able to see the speeding Ohio river by way of the bushes as you make your manner deeper alongside the bluff into the forest, crossing a bridge over a waterfall.

Alongside the way in which you’ll see colourful mushrooms and listen to birds singing within the tree cover above, in addition to stone ruins of previous buildings. As you close to the tip of the bluff, you’ll come to a meadow lined in wildflowers (particularly in spring). Then, the path then winds right down to take you again to road stage. 

The final stretch is alongside the underside of the river bluff, with towering limestone to your proper. Finally, it turns right into a gravel street as you move an previous ammunition plant, main you again to the parking zone the place you began.

Deam Lake State Recreation Area in Clark County indiana
There are such a lot of pretty spots alongside Deam Lake to hang around and luxuriate in a ravishing day.

Deam Lake

Situated about half-hour from downtown Louisville, Deam Lake State Recreation Area is positioned in Carr Township, Indiana. The drive into rural Indiana is pastoral and peaceable; it’s good to depart town behind, isn’t it?

Most guests to Deam Lake are coming to swim within the heat water and calm down on the sandy seashore: Deam Lake is the very best and closest seashore to Louisville, and makes a implausible summer time day journey. However within the cooler months, it’s additionally a beautiful place to go mountain climbing.

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 arduous to imagine this lake was constructed and never at all times there, with whitetail deer, turkey, and foxes working about, milkweed lining the lake, and all the opposite natural world which have thrived within the new atmosphere. 

Knobstone Path

  • Distance: 2 miles~ | Elevation Acquire: 100ft~ | Issue: Simple | Trail Guide

Knobstone Path is a path. What I imply by that’s that’s really 60 miles lengthy and the longest within the state of Indiana! Whilst you might hike all of this in the event you’re a hardcore hiker, the abridged model is extra leisurely, and I feel, a nicer solution to spend a day.

The actual purpose I really like the path is that, after a quick descent into the woods, you come alongside a grassy path 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’ll watch swimmers, boaters, and kayakers within the distance. It is a excellent spot to deliver a picnic and really feel such as you’re in a Studio Ghibli movie; it’s extremely pastoral and stress-free.

You may hold heading throughout and up into the woods, which can take you on a fairly large ascent and afford fairly lake views from a better elevation, ultimately taking you up north previous the lake altogether.

However personally, I counsel strolling throughout the scenic dam after which treating your self to a swim within the lake from the sandy seashore!

You’ll discover the Knobstone Trailhead by making a proper on the primary street you come throughout when you enter the park.


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Clifty Falls State Park

Situated 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 spectacular precipices into the depths under. It additionally has a number of bat caves and has among the extra elevated mountain climbing trails within the space. 

Trails #5 (Tunnel Falls to Lily Memorial)

  • Distance: 1.75 miles | Elevation Acquire: 305ft | Issue: Average | Trail Guide

Trails #5 is a 1.75 mile out and again path, taking you alongside the tree-lined, limestone cliffs. From the parking zone, you’ll take a protracted set of stairs down till you attain the path alongside the precipice of the cliff. If you’re seeking to see a waterfall, fortunate for you, there’s one proper there!

Casacading into the gorge under is 83′ Tunnel Falls, which is the biggest within the park and one of many largest in Indiana. Based on the park website, 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.” Undoubtedly an excuse to go to throughout all seasons!

As you proceed alongside the embankment with the towering cliffside in your left of you and the gorge in your proper, you’ll cross numerous wood bridge and move lush shade-loving vegetation like ferns. Quickly you’ll strategy the star of this path: the bat cave!

What was initially dug as a prepare tunnel in 1852 after which deserted, the 600-foot lengthy cave is now residence to bats which hibernate within the late fall by way of the winter. You may hike although the cave from Might 1st – October thirty first, and although the cave will not be too lengthy it’s nonetheless fairly darkish and damp, so be sure you deliver a headlamp. Inside you’ll discover a small waterfall and a pool, and hold your eyes peele for cave spiders, bats, and red-spotted salamanders – all the higher purpose to have a lightweight supply!

When you exit the cave, you’ll observe alongside the gorge extra till you attain the street. You may observe the street again, however mountain climbing the path again will likely be extra scenic. And you may enterprise into the bat cave…. once more!

Need to make a time out of it? Madison is one among our favourite weekend getaways in Indiana – read this post for extra particulars.


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Abbey of Gethsemani

About an hour-long drive exterior of Louisville, near town of Bardstown (of Bourbon distillery fame) is the Abbey of Gethsemani, which is understood for its well-known Trappist Monk Thomas Merton.

The Abbey continues to be a working monastery, and what lots of people don’t know is that it additionally has 1,500 acres of forests, lakes, and knobs to discover, making it among the best alternatives for mountain climbing close to Louisville!

Path to the Statues

  • Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Acquire: 124ft | Issue: Simple | Trail Guide

If you happen to haven’t been to Gethsemani earlier than, the remoteness and solitude of the monastery surrounded by bushes, fields, and nature will certainly deliver on an on the spot feeling of calmness. What might disrupt your chill, nevertheless, is looking for the dang traiheadl!

The primary time I visited I couldn’t determine it out, however as soon as you understand the place it’s it’s easy. Cross Monks Street (the street you got here in on) and head north till you come throughout a little bit opening within the woods with an indication that claims “path to statues”.

The path itself is a simple, 2-ish mile out and again path. The primary half takes you thru the woods till you come throughout an enormous pond, which in the summertime, is full of large, blooming lotuses. From there, you’ll take a set of steep stairs that can take you alongside a ridge within the woods, passing non secular statues and numerous rock formations. Within the spring, trout lilies line the path as properly.

As you get nearer to the “Statues” correct, you’ll move bigger and extra spectacular statues, like one of many Virgin Mary in a stark, glossy, fashionable fashion.

Finally, the forest opens as much as extensive, 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 in the event you aren’t significantly non secular, this hike is definitely worth the drive from Louisville for such a distant slice of nature.

Bonus: Even Extra Louisville Hikes!

Look, there may be NO scarcity of fantastic hikes in Louisville, KY and the adjoining areas. However I haven’t achieved all of them, and this publish is already fairly darn lengthy.

So, I needed to share with you the remainder of the hikes on my To Do listing! Lots of them had been sourced from my neighbor who’s an avid hiker (and Sensible Wanderlust reader, hello Ben!) in addition to my very own analysis.

I hope you don’t thoughts that I haven’t included a complete write-up for every of those – however after I full them, I’ll!

  • Millennium Trail, Bernheim Forest. 13.75 miles, 2,280 ft elevation acquire. That is by far the longest path in Bernheim, so lengthy that it’s essential verify in on the customer’s middle or on the trailhead earlier than beginning (in order that they know who returns… and who doesn’t). Based on the web site it takes 6-7 hours to finish, and the path “winds by way of 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 beautiful views of wildflowers, loads of shade, and a surprising view of Louisville within the north!
  • Otter Creek Trail, Otter Creek Out of doors Recreation Space. 8.6 miles, 721 ft elevation acquire. I’ve by no means been to Otter Creek, nevertheless it seems to be so darn fairly. There are many shorter trails you’ll be able to take as properly. There may be additionally a spot to swim on the blue gap swimming space – I’m there!
  • Rocky Ridge Bike and Hike Trail, Harrison-Crawford State Forest. 2 miles, 200 ft elevation acquire. This loop path goes by way of deep ravines, up scenic rocky slopes, and has gorgeous views of the Blue River. Feels like a winner!
  • Garvin Brown Nature Preserve, Prospect, Louisville. 2ish miles, flat. Whereas this isn’t a lot of a correct hike, this 46-acre nature protect is the proper place to stroll down by the Ohio river and luxuriate in wildflowers and sunshine.
  • Iroquois Park Overlook, Iroquois Park. 1.2 miles, 213 ft elevation acquire. Iroquois Park is one other Louisville Olmsted Park, and the actual gem of it’s the overlook on the high! Hike your manner up and be rewarded with beautiful views of town within the distance. You’re welcome.

Day Mountaineering Necessities

Earlier than we ship you off in your hike, listed here are our absolute must-have day mountain climbing necessities.

  • 50-100oz of water: Carry water! Critically, don’t skimp. We at all times deliver a Hydration Pack full of clear water and snacks. You’ll nonetheless have room for the remainder of our gear, too. 
  • Mountaineering Footwear & Socks: We prefer to hike in Path Runners (his & hers) reasonably than heavy obligation mountain climbing boots – they’re light-weight and journey pleasant, extra versatile and cozy, they usually dry tremendous shortly when it rains or after a water crossing, so your toes will keep toasty and take a look at. Pair them with well-made wool socks. Our favourite wool sock model is Darn Tough: they’re smooth, sturdy, and they arrive with a lifetime assure within the occasion of holes (that’s how you understand it’s actual). When issues begin getting moist, pull a pair waterproof socks on over high of your wool socks to maintain your toes dry and blister-free.
  • Solar & Warmth Safety: On uncovered trails, even when it’s chilly you’ll be getting numerous solar publicity. Slather on high SPF sunscreen on any uncovered pores and skin, together with SPF chapstick to guard your lips. To guard your self from noon warmth, hold a bandana or buff round your neck so you’ll be able to soak it in water and hold your core temperature down – or use it as a tieback on your hair. Sun shades and a sun hat go a protracted solution to defending your face and eyes from the solar as properly.
  • Snacks:  A hungry hike is a depressing hike! All the time deliver a snack, even for a brief hike, simply in case your hike goes on longer than deliberate. You need one thing nutritious, with an excellent combine of advanced carbs, fat, protein, and electrolytes to gas your physique. My favourite mountain climbing snacks are peanut butter crammed pretzels, dried fruit (like apple rings or dried mango), and almonds.
  • HeadlampsIf there’s any likelihood you’ll be beginning your hike earlier than daybreak, mountain climbing after darkish, or exploring a cave, deliver an excellent headlamp like this one to mild your manner hands-free. They’re small and light-weight and simply slot in any pack. Carry one. YES, even on a day hike! You by no means know in the event you would possibly want it and in the event you do, you’ll be SO glad you introduced it. (After our disastrous night-hiking incident in Cataract Falls, I’ll by no means hike with no headlamp once more even once I’m beginning properly after daybreak.)
  • First Aid Kit: You want a primary assist package that covers you within the occasion of a wide range of calamities. We occur to be catastrophe magnets, so we’ve whipped ours out a couple of instances. Your first assist package doesn’t should be large – this one is fairly small – nevertheless it ought to have the fundamentals. If you happen to’re DIY-ing your individual, we advocate together with bandaids, sterile alcohol wipes, waterproof matches, burn and chew remedy, and moleskin patches for while you really feel a blister approaching, which might simply change your quick tempo right into a disastrously sluggish one! Remember to embrace a compass as properly.
  • Whistle: This teeny tiny little instrument takes up no area in your pack however is an extremely helpful emergency instrument. Not solely does a whistle assist sign folks off within the distance in the event you ought to turn into harm, nevertheless it may also be useful in scaring off wildlife predators.
  • Emergency Walkie-Talkies: I do know these Radio Signaling Walkie-Talkies are overkill for many hikes. However in the event you’re going a little bit additional away from civilization or heading into probably dicey climate situations, these simply would possibly save your a$$. These unhealthy boys have a 35-mile mountain to valley vary, are totally waterproof (and also have a water-activated flashlight, nifty), and have a helpful emergency alert button that can despatched out a sign the minute you need assistance. Positive, you’ll in all probability by no means want to make use of them…  however consider them as the very best insurance coverage coverage you’ll ever purchase.

About Our Visitor Poster: Richie Goff is a Louisville native and has a terrific love of the outside. When he’s not rising flowers for enjoyable (and generally revenue), he’s the Editor-in-Chief of Sensible Wanderlust. He has been a buddy of Lia’s since highschool, they usually have taken loads of their very own diaster-prone adventures collectively!

Which hike are you hitting first? Go away us a remark under!

Psst: Planning extra adventures in Louisville? We now have a BUNCH of posts about LouisvilleIt’s my hometown, in any case! Have a look under at our different Louisville journey guides.

Louisville Locals: Searching for a day journey or weekend getaway close to Louisville?

Right here’s one thing you gained’t need to overlook: we’ve compiled all of our options for the place to go, what to do, the place to go to, what & the place to eat, and what & the place to drink (and style bourbon) in Louisville into one downloadable PDF Native’s Information to Louisville. Subscribe under to get the obtain and put it aside to your smartphone or pill to take with you in your journey to Louisville!

Get a FREE Louisville Journey Information!

We have compiled every part it’s essential know for a visit to Louisville right into a downloadable Native’s Information to Louisville. Print it out & take it with you! We’ll additionally ship you insider ideas that will help you plan your go to.

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Our Prime Journey Ideas & Sources

Listed below are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, take a look at our travel tips resource page or our guide to planning a trip.

  • Reserving Flights: To attain flight offers, search on Skyscanner or Kayak. Cash-saving ideas: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on solely on a price range airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly, trip leases, boutique inns or non-public rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to e book inns (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e book hostels (low deposit, straightforward change/cancellation, and wonderful evaluations). For trip leases, we desire to e book utilizing VRBO (they have decrease charges and higher assist than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical monitor report.) You may as well e book trip leases on Expedia and Hotels.com. We have additionally used TrustedHousesitters as each hosts (for our residence and our fur-child) and vacationers!
  • Journey Insurance coverage: We at all times, at all times, ALWAYS purchase journey insurance coverage for worldwide journeys, and we STRONGLY counsel it – go to our Travel Insurance Guide to seek out out why. We advocate both World Nomads or SafetyWing for worldwide journey insurance coverage. SafetyWing is likely one of the few insurance policies that covers Covid-19, they usually have wonderful month-to-month insurance policies which are excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis really helpful drugs and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times advocate getting each vaccine really helpful by the CDC! You may get them at your main care physician’s workplace or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Excursions: We love reserving guided excursions, particularly meals excursions and strolling excursions, to get an area’s perspective and a historical past lesson whereas sight-seeing! We e book our excursions utilizing Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to determine learn how to get from place to position utilizing public transit, and e book native transportation on-line utilizing Bookaway wherever we are able to. Once we e book a rental automotive, we use Kayak to match rental corporations and discover the very best deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Every time we’re testing early or benefiting from a protracted layover, we use Stasher or LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re working round. On Stasher, you should utilize the code PW10 for 10% off!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we deliver on each journey. We even have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and plenty of extra. Check out all of our packing guides!


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