Saturday, January 11, 2014

A Breath of Fresh Air: Incredible Hikes in Jefferson Memorial Forest

Just outside Louisville, Kentucky, the largest urban forest in the United States, Jefferson Memorial Forest, awaits hikers and nature lovers. The more than 6,000 acres of forested trails are managed as a memorial to U.S. veterans, inviting people to step out of the hustle and bustle of the city and contemplate the beauty of this great country.

Great Walks, Accessible to Everyone

The network of well-maintained trails in the Jefferson Memorial Forest range from really easy to strenuous. As an introduction, The Tulip Trail, at just a third of a mile, is paved and wheelchair accessible, and offers a perfect way for mobility-impaired and elderly folks to enjoy the beauty of nature. Other hikes for the entire family are the Caperton Swamp loop, at just less than a mile, and the Beargrass Creek path, a popular destination for guided night hikes, including the fabulously romantic candlelit Valentine's hike. Couples might also try the Kulmer Beach Trail that leads to a series of beaches along the Ohio River. Even on short excursions, a wonderful variety of topography will open up for a pleasant and refreshing experience.

Ramping It Up a Notch: Fresh Air Workouts

Want to work up a sweat? The Siltstone trail leads walkers up and down a series of inclines to a ridge that offers panoramic views of Louisville. At 6.7 miles, it's extendable to 10 miles with the addition of the Scotts Gap Loop. The Blue Trail is another hike billed at “moderate” that has intermediate moments, including some steep ascents and descents, if a more intense workout is what you're after. The trail leads through open hardwood forests. The Yellow Loop Trail also offers challenges to more experienced hikers, with two serious climbs along its strenuous 8.9 mile route.

Group Excursions Bring Sociability and Learning

Aside from the very special Valentine's event, evening hikes are very popular at Jefferson Memorial Forest. The Louisville Hiking Meetup organizes hikes to Wallace Lake, where they light campfires and roast marshmallows before heading back to the Welcome Center by 11:30 PM. Another sociable outing is the "Howl at the Moon" dog walks that happen all summer long. Dogs need to be on leashes and have up-to-date vaccination records. Led by forest staff, the hikes are a great way to meet other dog owners and share tips about adventuring in the wild with four-legged friends. Beginner and intermediate hikers can also enjoy free, guided hikes on the last Saturday of every month. The volunteers who run these excursions are full of knowledge of the forest’s natural history, and will help you uncover fossils and hone your orienteering skills.

If you are looking for something different to do and enjoy getting out and stretching your legs, the Jefferson Memorial Forest is for you. A park with plenty of free educational opportunities, this beautifully maintained recreation area has a variety of options for visitors. The guided hikes are designed to bring people together, whether it's couples out for a romantic stroll or dog lovers wanting to head for the hills in packs. The crisp air, and the lovely views by the river, lake, and on the high ridges, will reward visitors willing to step out of the concrete jungle and into the pristine forest. 

About the Author:  Joe Hayden is the Team Owner and Manager of the - Your Louisville Real Estate Experts!

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