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10 Great Kentucky Rails to Trails




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Kentucky has a growing collection of “rails to trails” or “rail trails,” a type of gravel or paved path that utilizes old railroad beds as their base. These are usually great for casual walkers, runners and bicyclists, as there are no steep grades and they pass through populated areas. Explore some of these fantastic Kentucky rails to trails on your next visit to The Bluegrass State!

Dawkins Line Rail Trail - The longest rail trail in the state, at approximately 24 miles long, with 12 more miles in development. This scenic trail between Hagerhill and Evanston was originally a rail line built to serve the timber industry in the area. Walkers, bicyclists and horseback riders will see a variety of trestle bridges as well as the 662-foot-long Gun Creek Tunnel. Wildlife and scenery abound along the trail, and elk viewing is especially popular.

Benham Rail Trail - The 2.25 mile Benham Rail Trail takes advantage of an old coal company rail line that runs through the small town of Benham in Harlan County. You’ll pass by the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum and Coal Miners Memorial Park on this easy crushed-stone path.

Brighton East Rail Trail - Opened in 2007, this 2-mile rail trail in east Lexington is a quiet ride that passes through two local parks. The western trailhead is near a popular commercial area with shopping and dining.

Cadiz Railroad Trail - Once utilized for hauling tobacco from Cadiz to Gracey, KY, this rail line has been re-purposed for a charming 2.5-mile route through the town of Cadiz. The asphalt surface makes it ideal for bicycling, running and walking.

Hopkinsville Rail Trail - Just over 3 miles long, this pleasant asphalt rail trail is slated for an expansion to nearly 7 miles in the future. Also known as the Pennyrile Rail Trail, the route connects businesses, neighborhoods and parks around town, offering walkers, runners and riders plenty to do.

Louisville Riverwalk - Stretching more than 8 miles, this urban rail trail meanders along the Ohio River, offering scenic views and access to many of Louisville’s most popular spots. Note: A portion of the Riverwalk (from Portland Wharf Park to Shawnee Park) will be closed for repairs through most of 2016. There are marked detours to guide trail users around this section

Muhlenberg County Rail Trail - This 6-mile asphalt trail connects Central City to Greenville, Kentucky. Along the way, you’ll pass through a wetland area full of wildlife. Many of the rail line’s former structures still stand along the route, including a caboose that’s been transformed into a railroad museum.

Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike & Hike Trail - This unique 9-mile gravel trail follows much of the 19th-Century Mammoth Cave Railroad. The northern end of the trail stops at the incredible Mammoth Cave National Park, where you can explore the world’s longest known cave system.

Town Branch Trail - This 2.2-mile multi-use path in Lexington offers varied scenery, including local neighborhoods and rolling green pasture.
White Plains Trail - This 1.5-mile paved trail runs through the town of White Plains, with a picnic area near the western trailhead and a city park near the eastern end.

These are only the trails that utilize old railroad beds! Aside from these Kentucky rails to trails, you’ll find many more greenways and multi-use paths that are perfect for running, walking or bicycling around the most beautiful parts of the state! Incorporate a few of these trails into your next Kentucky getaway!