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 exquisite forested landscapes. However individuals 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 a large city park designed by Frederick Regulation Olmsted, who additionally designed NYC’s Central Park? Louisville is approach under-the-radar, y’all.

Whether or not you’re exploring an city park in central Louisville, searching 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 outdoors of it – has tons of alternatives to place in your climbing boots, strap in your hydro pack, and get out in nature!

This information to the perfect 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 have now a BUNCH of posts about LouisvilleIt’s my hometown, in any case! Have a look beneath 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…dying 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. Until you’re driving – that’s not cool.

Pay attention 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 recommendations 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 beneath 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 thing it is advisable 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 climbing!

Mountain climbing in Louisville: Issues to Know

Listed here are just a few ideas and tips that will help you head off onto the paths on the precise foot.

  • Most of Louisville’s greatest hikes are outdoors of Louisville. Although there are many stunning parks in Louisville, there are much more state parks and forests outdoors 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 perfect time to hike. Mountain climbing in spring will showcase Kentucky’s stunning wildflowers, and fall showcases colourful, altering leaves. Summer time can also be good – however scorching – so plan to hike early on summer season days.
  • Bug repellant is your good friend. In the course of the hotter months in Kentucky (Could-September), not solely are the mosquitoes operating rampant however there’s additionally ticks! If you’re a first-rate all-you-can-eat blood financial institution like me, for the sake of your pores and skin get some good bug repellent. You can even spray your garments earlier than you go along with Permethrin spray for additional safety.
  • Respect our stunning wilderness. Please bear in mind to comply with all Leave No Trace Principles. They assist to maintain this land what it’s:  wild, pretty, pristine and wholesome.
  • Be respectful of wildlife. When you are not more likely to see greater than deer, birds and squirrels whereas climbing, do bear in mind that there are snakes and coyotes within the forest as properly. Give all animals a large berth, and take into account they’re extra frightened of you than you’re of them.
  • In the event you’re an ecowarrior, convey a trash bag with you. I at all times discover it a bit disheartening to see trash alongside the path, so I attempt to convey slightly trash bag and decide particles up alongside the way in which. Gloves might also be name, and don’t attempt selecting up damaged glass or rusted cans (not that I do know from expertise…).
  • Be respectful of others’ climbing expertise. This implies maintain your voice / music down for others to get pleasure from their hike. Nothing irks me greater than listening to individuals screaming or blaring music for everybody to listen to inside a mile radius. Impolite.


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The Greatest Hikes in Louisville

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

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

Cherokee Park

Cherokee Park is a giant, stunning park designed by Frederick Regulation Olmsted winding proper by 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 strolling paths, climbing trails, and biking routes.

It even boasts a 2.4 mile scenic loop which you can stroll or do by automobile if you happen to’re the sort of one that doesn’t get misplaced simply and is ready to comply with 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 Achieve: 393ft | Problem: Simple | Trail Guide 

Whereas many guests to Cherokee park spend most of their time on the paved Scenic Loop, the true 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 troublesome, it takes you up and down rolling, forested hills, passing by oaks and tulip poplar bushes, throughout meadows and by rolling creeks. The beauty of the path is which you can just about enter from wherever: the path opens up and crosses numerous elements of the scenic loop so you possibly can 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 chook sanctuary alongside the path for extra critical 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 possibly can count on to see many hikers, joggers, and bikers on this path, however it’s additionally lengthy sufficient that you’ll undoubtedly get some alone time. 

Jefferson Memorial Forest

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

Which makes a variety 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?

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

So if you happen to wanna get away from all of it and get a style for some true Kentucky b̶o̶u̶r̶b̶o̶n̶ nature, listed here are two wonderful climbing trails:

Scott’s Hole Path

  • Distance: 3.3 miles | Elevation Achieve: 776ft | Problem: Reasonable-Troublesome | Trail Guide

Beginning on the aptly named Scott’s Hole parking zone, this hike will actually provide you with 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, 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 attractive overlook, you’ll head alongside the ridgeline, canopies of bushes overhead with dipping ravines and hills throughout. At simply over slightly of a half-mile you’ll come to a “shortcut” route, and if you happen to select, you possibly can head again to the trailhead and solely do a 1.3 mile loop. However hey, you’ll miss the perfect 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, maintain 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 perfect 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 right place for a picnic lunch!

Yost Ridge Path to Mitchell Lake Path

  • Distance: 3.2 miles | Elevation Achieve: 800ft | Problem: Reasonable | Trail Guide

For this specific hike, you’ll begin on the Jefferson Memorial Welcome Center, which is a good place to find out about Jefferson Memorial Forest, decide up a path map, and hit the loos earlier than you enterprise out.

The primary a part of this hike takes you to the highest of the ridge, and if you happen to maintain your eyes peeled, you possibly can typically get a glimpse of downtown Louisville by 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 comply with it down, deeper into the woods lined with pine bushes, flecks of solar breaking by 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 lush ferns to the lake.

The lake itself is sunny and shiny, and the right 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 glad spot. 

Since this path begins from the Welcome Heart, count on it to be slightly 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

Positioned 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 once you’re directed to drive up into a elaborate neighborhood whereas pondering “this could’t be proper, a spot to hike, right here?!” It’s true! Generally 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 the planet’s tiniest parking zone. I counsel the primary choice. 

Blue Path / Orange Path

  • Distance: 2.2 miles | Elevation Achieve: 370ft | Problem: Simple | Trail Guide

After parking on Montero Drive, you’ll hike down into the forest by slightly stream which can take you to the parking zone you didn’t park at. From there you’ll comply with 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 possibly can sit and benefit from the views of rolling meadows beneath. You may simply sit and simply get pleasure from nature, it’s allowed!

This path additionally crosses little creeks on quaint picket bridges and previous massive moss-covered boulders that I prefer to suppose are fairy residence complexes.

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

In the summertime you can see individuals picnicking on the shore, and wading within the cool, shallow water. Harrods Creek can also be a well-liked kayaking spot, so you may even see individuals cruising down the river.

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

On the way in which again, you possibly can both take the Blue path again or the Orange path. The Orange path is identical distance however will take you strolling by the valley part that may be seen from the swinging benches. Whereas among the Orange path is shaded, most sections go away 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 severely ENORMOUS! You are able to do so many actions right here, together with exploring 60-miles of climbing trails. Who is aware of, you could even see a monster or two.

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

Wild Hyacinth Path

Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Achieve: 144ft | Problem: Reasonable | Trail Guide

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

To search out the trailhead you will want 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 can see 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 go throughout the paved Louisville Loop, the principle 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! Properly, it’s a loop, so go to the precise or left (for this path, it actually doesn’t matter)!

Across the loop, you’ll go 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 Achieve: 147ft | Problem: Simple | Trail Guide

Positioned in Broadrun Park, the Moss Gibbs Woodland Backyard Path is a straightforward hike, however one which packs in a variety of wildlife in slightly area. 

The Parklands designed the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden to indicate off the perfect of Kentucky native shade crops, masking this woodland hillside with 1000’s of native perennials, like mayapple, in addition to different shrubs and ferns. The concept was to create “areas throughout the undergrowth that really feel like rooms”, and that’s precisely what you possibly can count on climbing by this woodland path.

This path takes you up a forested hillside alongside Floyds Fork, the principle stream that cuts by the park, with gorgeous overlooks of the water (and there are trails to take you down if you’d like a better look).

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

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

Whereas this hike is probably not for individuals searching for a blood-pumping expertise, it’s undoubtedly price testing to see what might be created with native crops, creativeness, and slightly ingenuity. 


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The Greatest Hikes Close to Louisville

In the event you don’t thoughts touring about thirty minutes to an hour outdoors town, there are just a few extra climbing trails it is best to undoubtedly take a look at. The additional journey time provides to the attract (I feel) and typically a day journey is simply what it is advisable join with nature!

Right here’s the place to go for the perfect climbing close to Louisville, and my suggestions for 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 climbing trails.

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

The land for Bernheim was initially supplied by Isaac Wolf Bernheim in 1929, who devoted this land as a present to the individuals of his new homeland after emigrating from Germany.  Bernheim believed that land and nature are essential for the center, thoughts, and spirit, and that it’s regenerative for all individuals, no matter race, creed, or financial standing. And you realize what? It’s!

Forest Giants Path

  • Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Achieve: 50ft | Problem: Simple | Trail Guide

The most important attraction at Bernheim are the well-known Forest Giants, a group of three larger-than-life giants that have 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 Heart. The primary a part of the pathway is paved and takes you alongside the Olmstead Ponds, the place you can see the primary Large Little Nis, gazing his reflection within the pond. From there, you cross the Large Prairie – an expansive stretch of land in the course 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 usually paved and fairly simple, a variety of it’s uncovered by bushes so be sure you put on a sunhat and sunscreen. Additionally, arriving when the park opens will assist you to to be climbing with fewer individuals since it is a common path.

Elm Lick Path

  • Distance: 5 miles | Elevation Achieve: 646ft | Problem: Troublesome | Trail Guide

The primary time I ever did the Elm Lick Path in Bernheim I used to be on a path operating kick, so determined to run this in the course of summer season 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 can be much more pleasurable (and safer) with fluids!

That being mentioned, it is a attractive hike close to the again of Bernheim forest. Right here you’ll actually really feel away from town, and even the extra common elements of Bernheim forest. It’s quiet, serene, and actually offers you the impression of being out by yourself within the wilderness.

The path is a loop, and both approach 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 relatively do on the finish of your hike!

On the forest flooring, you’ll go 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 you should definitely 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 possibly can 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 fingers down among the best locations to go climbing close to Louisville.

It’s 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’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 possibly can 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 Achieve: 370ft | Problem: Reasonable | Trail Guide

So that you’re right here for some Twenties deserted amusement park lore, proper? Good, I believed you is perhaps! 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 season resort. He added an amusement park with a small picket curler coaster, a dance corridor, golf course, eating amenities, riverfront cottages, the Rose Island Resort, and even a zoo with a wolf, monkeys, and a bear named “Teddy Rosevelt”. You already know, every thing 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 photographs of Rose Island in its heyday, take a look at this website.

In the present day, you possibly can uncover the ruins of a bygone period by taking creatively named Path 3 down a steep, paved path (and I imply steep, you do must be in first rate 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 possibly can go to the previous swimming pool (now full of gravel), the previous dance corridor ruins, and the central stroll with massive iron archways which have been as soon as garlanded with roses. Alongside the way in which, there are interpretive indicators, and you will 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 the woods, passing by massive moss-covered boulders and towering bushes. Or you possibly can merely hike again up the paved path, which on a summer season day is unshaded, so undoubtedly put on a hat and sunscreen.


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Path 6

  • Distance: 2.3 miles | Elevation Achieve: 249ft | Problem: Reasonable | Trail Guide

Path 6 is correct down by the river, on the farthest finish of the park. It’s an attractive drive simply to get there, passing by forests and meadows and all the luxurious greenery that inhabits the river’s edge. Driving to this path additionally offers you a really feel for a way massive 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)! In the event you have a look at this map you will notice the trailhead is reverse the Riverside Overlook – it’s simple to overlook if you happen to’re not maintaining 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 possibly can see the speeding Ohio river by the bushes as you make your approach 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 top 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 degree. 

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 go 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 an attractive day.

Deam Lake

Positioned 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 go away town behind, isn’t it?

Most guests to Deam Lake are coming to swim within the heat water and chill out on the sandy seashore: Deam Lake is the perfect and closest seashore to Louisville, and makes a incredible summer season day journey. However within the cooler months, it’s additionally a beautiful place to go 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 exhausting to imagine this lake was constructed and never at all times there, with whitetail deer, turkey, and foxes operating about, milkweed lining the lake, and all the opposite natural world which have thrived within the new setting. 

Knobstone Path

  • Distance: 2 miles~ | Elevation Achieve: 100ft~ | Problem: 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 may hike all of this if you happen to’re a hardcore hiker, the abridged model is extra leisurely, and I feel, a nicer option to spend a day.

The actual cause I really like the path is that, after a short 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 may watch swimmers, boaters, and kayakers within the distance. It is a excellent spot to convey a picnic and really feel such as you’re in a Studio Ghibli movie; it’s extremely pastoral and stress-free.

You may maintain 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

Positioned 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 beneath. It additionally has a number of bat caves and has among the extra elevated climbing trails within the space. 

Trails #5 (Tunnel Falls to Lily Memorial)

  • Distance: 1.75 miles | Elevation Achieve: 305ft | Problem: Reasonable | 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 trying to see a waterfall, fortunate for you, there’s one proper there!

Casacading into the gorge beneath is 83′ Tunnel Falls, which is the most important within the park and one of many largest in Indiana. In line with the park website, the waterfalls within the park “change moods with the climate and the seasons and may 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 picket bridge and go lush shade-loving crops like ferns. Quickly you’ll strategy the star of this path: the bat cave!

What was initially dug as a practice tunnel in 1852 after which deserted, the 600-foot lengthy cave is now residence to bats which hibernate within the late fall by the winter. You may hike although the cave from Could 1st – October thirty first, and although the cave shouldn’t be too lengthy it’s nonetheless fairly darkish and damp, so you should definitely convey 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 light-weight supply!

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

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


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Abbey of Gethsemani

About an hour-long drive outdoors 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 climbing close to Louisville!

Path to the Statues

  • Distance: 2 miles | Elevation Achieve: 124ft | Problem: Simple | Trail Guide

In the event you haven’t been to Gethsemani earlier than, the remoteness and solitude of the monastery surrounded by bushes, fields, and nature will certainly convey on an immediate feeling of calmness. What could disrupt your chill, nonetheless, is looking for the dang traiheadl!

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

The path itself is a straightforward, 2-ish mile out and again path. The primary half takes you thru the woods till you come throughout a giant pond, which in the summertime, is full of big, 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 go bigger and extra spectacular statues, like one of many Virgin Mary in a stark, modern, trendy model.

Finally, the forest opens as much as vast, 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 happen to 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 wonderful hikes in Louisville, KY and the adjoining areas. However I haven’t performed all of them, and this put up is already fairly darn lengthy.

So, I needed to share with you the remainder of the hikes on my To Do listing! A lot of them have 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 an entire 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 is advisable test in on the customer’s middle or on the trailhead earlier than beginning (so that they know who returns… and who doesn’t). In line with the web site it takes 6-7 hours to finish, and the path “winds by 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 attractive views of wildflowers, loads of shade, and a shocking 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, however it appears so darn fairly. There are many shorter trails you possibly can 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 deep ravines, up scenic rocky slopes, and has gorgeous views of the Blue River. Seems 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 right 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 true gem of it’s the overlook on the prime! Hike your approach up and be rewarded with attractive views of town within the distance. You’re welcome.

Day Mountain climbing Necessities

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

  • 50-100oz of water: Convey water! Severely, don’t skimp. We at all times convey a Hydration Pack full of clear water and snacks. You’ll nonetheless have room for the remainder of our gear, too. 
  • Mountain climbing Footwear & Socks: We prefer to hike in Path Runners (his & hers) relatively than heavy obligation climbing boots – they’re light-weight and journey pleasant, extra versatile and comfy, they usually dry tremendous shortly when it rains or after a water crossing, so your ft 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 mushy, sturdy, and they arrive with a lifetime assure within the occasion of holes (that’s how you realize it’s actual). When issues begin getting moist, pull a pair waterproof socks on over prime of your wool socks to maintain your ft dry and blister-free.
  • Solar & Warmth Safety: On uncovered trails, even when it’s chilly you’ll be getting plenty of 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, maintain a bandana or buff round your neck so you possibly can soak it in water and maintain your core temperature down – or use it as a tieback in your hair. Sun shades and a sun hat go a protracted option to defending your face and eyes from the solar as properly.
  • Snacks:  A hungry hike is a depressing hike! All the time convey a snack, even for a brief hike, simply in case your hike goes on longer than deliberate. You need one thing nutritious, with combine of advanced carbs, fat, protein, and electrolytes to gasoline your physique. My favourite climbing snacks are peanut butter stuffed pretzels, dried fruit (like apple rings or dried mango), and almonds.
  • HeadlampsIf there’s any probability you’ll be beginning your hike earlier than daybreak, climbing after darkish, or exploring a cave, convey headlamp like this one to gentle your approach hands-free. They’re small and light-weight and simply slot in any pack. Convey one. YES, even on a day hike! You by no means know if you happen to may want it and if you happen to 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 equipment that covers you within the occasion of a wide range of calamities. We occur to be catastrophe magnets, so we’ve whipped ours out just a few occasions. Your first assist equipment doesn’t must be massive – this one is fairly small – however it ought to have the fundamentals. In the event you’re DIY-ing your individual, we suggest together with bandaids, sterile alcohol wipes, waterproof matches, burn and chew remedy, and moleskin patches for once you really feel a blister approaching, which might simply change your quick tempo right into a disastrously gradual one! You’ll want to embrace a compass as properly.
  • Whistle: This teeny tiny little software takes up no area in your pack however is an extremely helpful emergency software. Not solely does a whistle assist sign individuals off within the distance if you happen to ought to turn into harm, however 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 if you happen to’re going slightly additional away from civilization or heading into doubtlessly dicey climate situations, these simply may save your a$$. These unhealthy boys have a 35-mile mountain to valley vary, are absolutely waterproof (and actually 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 most likely by no means want to make use of them…  however consider them as the perfect insurance coverage coverage you’ll ever purchase.

About Our Visitor Poster: Richie Goff is a Louisville native and has an important love of the outside. When he’s not rising flowers for enjoyable (and typically revenue), he’s the Editor-in-Chief of Sensible Wanderlust. He has been a good friend 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 beneath!

Psst: Planning extra adventures in Louisville? We have now a BUNCH of posts about LouisvilleIt’s my hometown, in any case! Have a look beneath 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 recommendations 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 beneath 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 thing it is advisable 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 here are our favourite journey ideas & assets for saving cash and planning journey logistics! For extra ideas, take a look at our complete guide to trip planning.

  • 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 finances airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Lodging: We often keep in budget-friendly, trip leases, boutique resorts or non-public rooms in hostels. We use to e-book resorts (we love their versatile cancellation coverage) and Hostelworld to e-book hostels (low deposit, simple change/cancellation, and wonderful evaluations). For trip leases, we choose to e-book utilizing VRBO (they have decrease charges and higher assist than Airbnb, and we’re not followers of Airbnb’s unethical observe report.) You can even e-book trip leases on Expedia and 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 search out out why. We suggest 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 might be excellent for Digital Nomads and long run vacationers!
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the journey guides on the CDC website to analysis really helpful medicines and vaccines for worldwide journeys. We at all times suggest 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 methods to get from place to position utilizing public transit. Once we e-book a rental automobile, we use Kayak to match rental corporations and discover the perfect deal.
  • Baggage Storage: Each time we’re testing early or profiting from a protracted layover, we use Stasher or LuggageHero to securely retailer our baggage whereas we’re operating round. On Stasher, you should use the code PW10 for 10% off your reserving!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we convey 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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