By Lee Cole–
Autumn might be the best of all the seasons for hiking and camping. The changing trees display their colors, insects are less of a problem and the crisp, cool air provides the optimal temperature.
There is no better way to soak in the beautiful fall scenery and to reconnect with Mother Nature than by spending a day hiking. Something about the steady rhythm of hiking boots and constantly moving forward along a winding wilderness trail puts you into a Zen mindset. It’s a great way to clear your mind and relieve the stress of school work.
Luckily, students don’t have to go very far to experience the wonder and beauty of the natural world. Here are the top five trails in the region, all of them perfect for a fall break getaway.
5. Knobstone Trail – The longest trail in Indiana is only about 10 miles north of Louisville. Knobstone Trail is not for the novice hiker.
At a length of 52 miles, passing through four counties of scenic lakeshores, forestlands and rugged inclines, only those looking for a serious hike should attempt this one. Backcountry camping is allowed at least a mile from roads and trailheads.
4. Taylorsville Lake Trail – Nearby Taylorsville Lake Trail offers scenic views of Taylorsville Lake and Beech Creek, and the area is particularly good for bird watching, as it makes a perfect habitat for several species of waterfowl and other migratory birds. It’s not quite as strenuous as Knobstone Trail, making it better for less experienced hikers. Taylorsville Lake Trail is 46 miles southeast of Louisville.
3. Bernheim Forest trail – According to their website, the Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest has over 35 miles of trails, passing through the “Kentucky knobs land.”
The trees are the primary attraction in autumn as green turns to the deep reds and oranges so characteristic of the season. Bernheim’s striking fall colors are showcased in their upcoming “Colorfest,” held Oct. 15 and 16. Bernheim Forest is 29 miles south of Louisville down I-65.
2. Adventure Hiking Trail – Covering 27 miles over scenic bluffs along the Ohio River in the Harrison-Crawford State Forest in Indiana, the Adventure Hiking Trail is perfect for a weekend getaway. The area is full of sinkholes and caves to explore, and it’s only about an hour away on I-64 West.
1. Red River Gorge – While it is the furthest spot from Louisville on the list at 133 miles east on I-64, or about a 2 hour drive, it just might be the most rewarding trail experience in the region. Combining breathtaking views of steep sandstone rock faces, deep gorges and pebbled streambeds, the scenery along Red River Gorge’s many trails is hard to beat. There are about 40 trails in the Red River Gorge area, and there is something for hikers of all skill levels. Backcountry camping is allowed.
Photo: Nathan Gardener/The Louisville Cardinal