National Take a Hike Day: Staff Trail Recommendations

For many of our visitors, The Parklands is a gym, an adventure, and even an escape. The same can be said for our team members. One of the perks of working in The Parklands, is having immediate access to nearly 50 miles of hiking trails where you can enjoy all seasons and get away from the stress and demands of everyday life. In honor of National Take a Hike Day (annually observed on November 17) we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Parklands’ pathways.

Continue reading to learn more about our top picks and what makes each so special courtesy of the folks whose work helps preserve and maintain them. Then make a date to explore one (or more) this November 17!

For those short on time:

“For a quick hike, I love Valley of the Giants in Beckley Creek Park because it showcases the enormous Sycamore trees that line Floyds Fork.” – Ali Greenwell, Program Coordinator

Louisville Loop – Broad Run Park, Photo by Ted Wathen/Quadrant

For rain or shine:

“The Louisville Loop trail is a great, fully-accessible option offering scenic views throughout all four parks. Since it is paved, you don’t have to worry about encountering muddy areas. While steep in spots, the forested stretch that runs through Broad Run Park and the southern portion of Turkey Run features waterfalls in the fall, winter and spring, as well as plenty of shade during the warmer months.” – Anna Rosales-Crone, Communications Coordinator

Limestone Gorge Trail – Broad Run Park, Photo by Ted Wathen/Quadrant

For a scenic route:

“I’d recommend an original favorite—Big Beech Trail at Pope Lick Park. It takes you along a trail with 200-year-old trees and is just 1.5 miles long. It’s also close to The Strand, my favorite section of the park to take a leisurely hike or pedal.” – Toni Woodard, Facility & Hospitality Director

Karst Climb, one of our newest trails, located in Broad Run Park! This trail offers some awesome views of waterfalls and the lower section of trail has some special places.” – Bryan Howell, Trail Team Leader

Limestone Gorge is the most unique trail we have, and it sits in the middle of my favorite forest. It’s a lovely, diverse place with some vertical ups and downs to make it fun.” – Dan Jones, Founder & CEO

Big Beech Trail – Pope Lick Park, Photo by Bob Hower/Quadrant

For wildlife watching:

Big Beech Woods is my favorite trail at The Parklands. I love to watch the seasons change in this beautiful, old-growth forest. This trail has a lovely spot that overlooks the fork, and I (almost) always catch a glimpse of a woodpecker!” – Rebecca Grau, Membership Coordinator

Karst Climb – Broad Run Park, Photo by Ali Greenwell

For those looking for a challenge:

“Of the trails I have explored I would recommend Karst Climb in Broad Run Park. I enjoyed the terrain of this trail. As the trail opens and you enter on the south end, near Bardstown road, you hike into a quaint clearing that gradually feeds into the dense stand of trees and seasonal waterfalls. This soft surface trail is just shy of 2 miles and is labeled as more challenging. I think the challenge is worth it, as the trail meanders to the north through several species of trees and wildflowers (notable spring ephemerals), a cedar grove, a small creek with rippling waterfalls; it spills out in the north at the Highland Crossing. It is a great hike for an after work stress reliever or early morning wake-up.” – Karen Mann, Garden Team Leader


Wild Hyacinth Trail – Turkey Run Park, Photos by David Miller

Staff Favorite: Wild Hyacinth Trail, Turkey Run Park

“The Wild Hyacinth Trail in Turkey Run Park.  It is a quiet walk in the forest along Turkey Run Creek with several creek crossings, and there is an incredible carpet of wildflowers in the early spring.” – David Miller, Park Ranger

“My favorite trail in The Parklands is the Wild Hyacinth trail. I can get into the woods where it is quiet to rest and recharge. I enjoy going out after a good rain and seeing the water cascade into Turkey Run creek. I also enjoy splashing in the creek looking for crawdads just as much as our students do!” – Curtis Carman, Education Coordinator

“One of my favorite trails is the Wild Hyacinth Trail in Turkey Run Park. If you hike this trail throughout spring, you will see an abundance of wildlife flowers. These ephemeral flowers include, but are not limited to bloodroot, trout lily, trillium, Allegheny spurge, wild hyacinth (hence the trail name), hepatica, Dutchman’s breeches, dwarf larkspur and jack in the pulpit. You will cross several small waterfalls that feed into Turkey Run, and you will see a centuries-old stonewall built by the farmers that worked this land.” – Evan Patrick, Natural Areas Team Leader

Are you interested in guided hikes or hiking with fellow outdoor lovers? Check out our events page for more details on hiking programs, including Member-exclusive hikes.