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Generate Some Heat with Winter Hiking in Kentucky



If you’re suffering from cabin fever or the winter doldrums, now’s the time to hit the hiking trails of Kentucky. In many ways, winter is the best season for hiking in the Bluegrass State, as summer humidity and high-season crowds give way to crisp air and fewer adventurers on the trails. It’s a good time to get out of the house and generate some heat of your own with one of the most enjoyable forms of exercise.

Winter’s leafless trees reveal stunning Kentucky vistas, whether in the eastern mountains or the western lakes regions.  Birds and other wildlife are more easily spotted in winter, providing an extra bonus to hikers who venture out this time of year. Great spots for winter vistas include Daniel Boone National Forest and Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area  in the Appalachian region and Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area  in southwestern Kentucky.
Popular places for winter hiking near Louisville include Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest  and Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area, whose 24 miles of trails afford impressive views of the Ohio River.  

You might also want to try hiking underground, also known as spelunking. It’s a popular winter pastime since Kentucky’s many caves maintain nearly constant year-round temperatures in the mid-50s. At Mammoth Cave National Park, you can hike both below and above ground in a truly unique natural setting.

Many of Kentucky’s 51 state parks feature hiking trails that are great places to get close to nature during winter. Make the excursion a cozy winter weekend at 17 state resort parks that offer lodge accommodations. At resort parks including Carter Caves, Barren River Lake, Pennyrile Forest and Lake Cumberland, you can even settle into cottages with wood-burning fireplaces after a full day on the trails.

Many state parks also offer organized hikes as an enjoyable way to share your winter hiking experience with likeminded adventurers. For example, join in a weekend hiking adventure at Pine Mountain State Resort Park.

The expedition will encompass eight miles on three guided hikes in one weekend. Gaze out across the Cumberland Mountains from Knobby Rock in the midst of the celebrated Blanton Forest; stand on the mountain peak where Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia adjoin; and feel the weight of history in the saddle of the Cumberland Gap Pass. Investigate a Native American camp in a sandstone rockhouse, re-live the folk history of the legendary Chained Rock and examine a natural arch on the vaulted south slope of Pine Mountain.

Evening programs will feature an introduction to the adventure sport of geocaching, a GPS primer, Leave No Trace concepts, and a Backpacking 101 session.

The park is offering a discounted Getaway Package Special. Package prices are $125 (single) and $170 (double) and include accommodations for two nights, two evening meals, complimentary hiking staff, and admission to guided hikes and evening programs. The non-package registration fee for participation is $20 for adults, $10 for youths 13-17, and children 12 and under are free. Registration is required. To register or to make a reservation, call the park’s Guest Services Desk at (800) 325-1712 and mention the Hike the Highlands Winter Getaway.

For more information about hiking in Kentucky click here to explore all the trails.