With Spring in full bloom across the Commonwealth, what better time to plan a hike to see Kentucky wildflowers. From the familiar purple of the redbud to the cheery face of dogwoods, blooms are out in full force right now. To see every type of Kentucky wildflower from the chickweed to the toothwort, check out these 12 trails and special events to view beautiful wildflowers in all regions of the state. To see a complete listing of all of the places to celebrate spring, visit http://www.kentuckytourism.com/spring/reports.aspx
#1 Natural Bridge State Resort Park
Natural Bridge State Resort Park will host the Kentucky Native Plant Society’s Wildflower Weekend on April 28-29. Multiple guided hikes will be lead by biologists throughout the weekend to surrounding areas to discover wildflowers unique to the Kentucky landscape. Hikes will focus on everything from wildflower identification to specialized hikes to look for woody and invasive plants.
#2 Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park
Visit Pennryile Forest State Resort Park during the annual Spring Photography Weekend, May 5-7 and be sure to bring your camera to learn all kinds of photography tips while viewing beautiful wildflowers. While there, try the Indian Bluff Trail, an easy ½ mile trail descends through a deciduous forest.
#3 Carter Caves State Resort Park Wildflower Pilgrammage
Nature enthusiasts step outside and enjoy the natural wonders of Carter Caves State Resort Park on April 21-22. The ridges and valleys around the park are known for a large diversity of tree species, birds and blooming spring wildflowers. Enjoy guided hikes and workshops that will get you up close to many of these natural attractions found at the park. Sponsored by The Friends of Carter Caves
#4 – Paducah Dogwood Trail
Head to Paducah in western Kentucky, where the city has designated a Dogwood Trail that snakes 10 miles through leafy residential neighborhoods. During the Dogwood Trail Celebration held in April the trees and gardens along the trail are illuminated in the evenings. Follow the signs strategically located at each turn in the trail and you’ll see many varieties of dogwoods, as well as Japanese maples, weeping cherry trees, redbuds and other flowering species.
#5 Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
Located just 25 miles south of Louisville, this oasis will make you feel far from the city life with 14,500 acres, and over 6000 trees and shrubs. Numerous hiking trails lead to great views of native wildflowers. On March 25, join staff for the Early Wildflower Walk where you will see many varieties of flowering ephemerals, which often bloom in March. During the annual Bloomfest on May 20, Bernheim’s annual celebration of spring, you will enjoy local artisans, food vendors, a farmers market, musical entertainment, and tons of great activities for children including arts, crafts, garden faerie house construction and naturalist-led discovery stations.
#6 – Redbud Trails
Redbuds are found in all their colorful glory throughout the hills of eastern Kentucky. One of the best places to start a redbud tracking trip is in Barbourville in the state’s southeastern corner. Follow U.S. 25E south from Barbourville to Pineville, stop at Pine Mountain State Resort Park and take a hike on one of its many trails and examine the blossoms at close range. Other recommended routes for redbud viewing include U.S. 23, the Country Music Highway, which traces Kentucky’s eastern border from Ashland to the Virginia state line; the Red River Gorge Scenic Byway along state roads 15, 715 and 77; the Hal Rogers Parkway between London and Hazard; and the Kingdom Come Parkway along U.S. 119 between Pineville and Harlan.
#7 Boone County Cliffs Nature Preserve
Named for the twenty to forty foot cliff outcroppings along the valley slopes, the preserve totals 75 acres along a tributary to Middle Creek. Trails allow explorers to view four forest community types present in addition to the many unique glacial features within the preserve. In the spring, the wildflower display is particularly impressive.
#8 Land Between the Lakes
Located between Kentucky and Barkley Lakes, there are numerous wildflower viewing opportunities in this National Recreational Area. Along the southern bottom lands you can spot blue phlox, wild ginger, bluebells and Sheppard's purse to name a few. There are also ample opportunities to see buffalo and other wildlife.
#9 – Wildflower Loop – Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Known as the Niagara of the South, Cumberland Falls also boasts miles of hiking trails including the Wildflower Loop with pristine views of a variety of wildflowers from the wood poppy to spring beauties and trout lilies.
#10 – Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill Discovery Treks
On April 29th, Shaker Village will host guided walks to hunt for spring wildflowers like Bachelor’s Buttons, Violets, Fire Pinks, Phlox and Bluets in peak bloom along the Kentucky River Palisades while learning about the rare and unusual plants that grow throughout Shaker Village’s 3,000 acres. This hike will feature River Road Trail, last approximately 2.5 hours and travel approximately 3 miles round-trip on even but moderate trails. $25 per person which includes a 20% off dining voucher and complimentary admission to the village.
#11 – Wildflower Trail – Lake Malone State Park
This majestic trail is .2 miles in length and has a small creek that flows nearby and nearby Laurel Trail is a mile and ½ trails that features views of Lake Malone, a 788 acre lake with a large variety of fish.
#12 Blue Licks Battlefield State Resort Park
Learn about the history of Blue Licks Springs and the Revolutionary War skirmish that happened here as you view several species of rare wildflowers and native plants, including the Short’s Goldenrod (one of the most endangered species of wildflower).