As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Kentucky

By Penny Fox

5 Stunning Foliage Hikes in Kentucky

Getting outside during the fall months in Kentucky will prove to be a rewarding adventure. Trails provide the opportunity to take in the crisp autumn air and the rainbow of color that the trees and foliage offer. Here are five stunning foliage hikes in Kentucky that will take your breath away.   

1. Jenny Wiley State Resort Park

The beautiful 1,200-acre Dewey Lake is the backdrop for this well-known heritage trail in Jenny Wiley State Resort Park near Prestonsburg, Kentucky. The park and trail are named for Jenny Wiley, a young pioneer woman who escaped from the capture of Native Americans in the late 1780s and the path she took to freedom. The trail is best hiked between May and the end of September when the leaves and foliage burst with color. As you walk the trail, you’ll see a forest of maple trees turning from shades of green to vibrant yellow and orange to fiery red. The lake is great for fishing and contains many varieties of fish like crappy and tiger muskies. There are parts of the trail that are challenging, but the gorgeous scenery and peaceful surroundings are worth the effort. Make sure to take your camera for some unforgettable photos. 

2. Dupree Nature Preserve

There are several trails within the 300-acre Dupree Nature Preserve and if you hike the trail early in the morning or later in the evening, you’ll have the best chance of seeing animals local to the area. Founded in 1975, the Nature Conservancy’s Kentucky Chapter has been working to preserve and protect the land, water, and wildlife within the state’s borders by conservation and clean-up efforts, and by providing a place where people can enjoy nature in its glory. All of the trails are easily done, and you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to navigate the gently sloping hills and valleys along the journey. 

3. Raven Run Nature Sanctuary

The forests, meadows, and wildflowers come alive with hues of yellow, oranges, reds, and browns all over the 734-acre Raven Run Nature Sanctuary located not far from Lexington, Kentucky. Bordering the Kentucky River, the area has over 10 miles of well-marked hiking trails that meander up and down hills, beside sleepy streams, and past the homes of local wildlife. There are seven trails in the sanctuary and they range in difficulty from easy to moderate. Visitors need to register at the nature center upon arrival, and no pets are allowed on the trails. There are other rules that should be followed to preserve the area for future generations. 

4. Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail

Narrow ridges and deep ravines are what hikers will find at the Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail in the Daniel Boone National Forest near Morehead, Kentucky. Fall is a particularly good time to visit as this 319-mile series of trails meanders through the colored landscape, and the area still looks much the same as when Daniel Boone, American pioneer and explorer, traversed the countryside. Many parts of the trail follow shallow flat rocks jutting up in the creeks and streams through the woods, and there is beauty everywhere. Often called the backbone of the Daniel Boone National Forest, the Sheltowee Trace Trail is used for practice for hikers who want to take on longer trail adventures like the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail. There are many recreational activities that take place near the area, and it is easily traveled in a weekend at a steady pace.

5. Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Natural Bridge State Resort Park near Slade, Kentucky, gets its name from the natural 78-foot-high sandstone arch bridge in the center of the park. Owned by L&E railroad company in the late 1800s, the park became one of Kentucky’s four original state parks, and is comprised of 2,200 total acres with 22 miles of trails and a large 60-acre lake. Camping and overnight lodging is allowed, but pets are only permitted on specific ones. Besides the stunning scenery in the fall, hikers will enjoy the sandstone rock formations, waterfalls, cliffs, and caves around the area. This is not an adventure to miss. 

As local communities continue to update Covid-19 regulations, local destinations for outdoor recreation may be closed. Please visit official websites for the latest information.

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