Kentucky is filled with plenty of wonders to see while backpackers 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 that 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 with experience, few trails 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 are the bare minimum.
3. Eagle Falls Trail In Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Hikers need to take the Eagle Falls Trail to reach Eagle Falls 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 of different ages.
Cumberland Falls are one of the most famous landmarks, and falling 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 moon’s light casts a nighttime rainbow over the river.
It is open throughout the year and gives excellent 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 most extensive cave system in 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 park’s backcountry, where there are smaller caverns to explore on your way.
Because there is so much to see and do, you can make a night of it with the required permit to ensure 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 open to plant and animal life diversity while passing 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. (Learn How To Clean Camelbak Mouthpiece)
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. (Find the Best Knee Braces For Hiking)
There are trail loops and ones where you may need to arrange transport or find a great camping spot before heading back for another adventure.