Kentucky is filled with plenty of wonders to see while backpacker are hitting the trails. It doesn’t matter if you enjoy exploring caves, or hiking over rugged terrain and scaling mountains.
If you fancy something more sedate and wandering through lush forests, there’s more than enough to cover every taste.
The Best 5 Hiking Trails in Kentucky
1. Double Arch Trail In Daniel Boone National Forest
This trail is open all-year round. The Double Arch trail comes in at 4.5 miles long and works its way through forests which sit at the foot of sandstone cliffs.
When you make your way up, you can take in the breathtaking views from the overlook of Courthouse Rock.
When you set off, you will start at the Auxier Ridge Trailhead. This is a full day hike, and you can encounter a couple of strenuous sections.
There are options to camp overnight, but on your hiking essentials for beginners list, don’t forget to add you may need permits.
2. Indian Staircase And Indian Arch Loop In Red River Gorge
This isn’t for the faint of heart, and no hiker should tackle this one alone. You can tackle the steep staircase, but you need to pay attention to a couple of areas that can be dangerous.
For hikers who have experience, there are few trails which deliver the views you have when you take this one in your stride.
It can take around six hours from start to finish, but the 3.5 miles is worth the effort.
While there are official trails, this one takes you away from them, so it is crucial to have your navigation gear ready. A map and a compass being the bare minimum.
3. Eagle Falls Trail In Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
To reach the Eagle Falls, hikers need to take the Eagle Falls Trail because it’s the only way to gain access.
It can become congested, and although only short at 1.5 miles, it can be a great short hike if you have members who are different ages.
The Cumberland Falls are one of the most famous landmarks, and falling the 70 feet, the water makes a deafening sound.
One of the best times to visit is during a full moon, and with the right conditions, you may be lucky to see a moonbow where the light of the moon casts a nighttime rainbow over the river.
It is open throughout the year and gives great views of the falls.
4. Long Loop Trail – Mammoth Cave National Park
The Mammoth cave is one of the most famous natural wonders in Kentucky. To top all that, it is the largest cave system around the world.
Hikers can soak up the awe-inspiring rock formations before tackling the trails inside the national park.
You can spend anywhere from an hour up to six hours on the various trails, but some of the caverns can take you off the beaten track with guides where you can follow narrow crevices with just a handheld lantern for light.
When you emerge, there are over 80 miles of trails to explore. The best being the Long Loop Trail where there are a few shorter hikes connected.
The trail measures 16 miles and takes you around the back country of the park where there are smaller caverns to explore on your way.
Because there is so much to see and do, with the required permit, you can make a night of it to make sure you don’t miss a thing.
5. Red Trail – Raven Run Nature Sanctuary
Lexington is the home of the Raven Run Nature Sanctuary. This couples both ecology and hiking on the 4-mile loop.
Hikers are opened up to the diversity of the plant and animal life while they pass through flower-filled meadows, babbling streams and wooded glens.
Along the trails, there are over 600 plant species and over 200 species of birds. As an addition, you can visit the ruins of a nineteenth-century pioneer homestead are on display.
One thing to note is that the opening hours are not over extensive, so if you want to make a day of it, you need to start early.
These five are some of the best trails in Kentucky, but there are countless more that take a few hours, or will take a full day to complete.
There are trail loops, and ones where you may need to arrange transport, or you find a great camping spot before heading back for another adventure.