The best hikes in Louisville, Kentucky! Also includes the best hikes NEAR Louisville.

The 17 Best Hikes in Louisville, Kentucky (& Nearby)

There is no shortage of fantastic hikes in Louisville! Most Louisville hiking trails are in their own park systems, each of which has a myriad of hiking trails to choose from. As an avid hiker, I always find myself drawn to new paths to find out my next favorite hike. And lucky for you, I’ve collected them in one post!

I’ve listed them by park, and my recommendations for which hiking trails to take within each park. Keep in mind not all of these hikes are in Louisville proper – while we have some truly stunning parks (thanks Frederick Olmsted!), a lot of the best hikes are just outside of the city limits. Most of these hikes are within 30 mins, with a couple about an hour away.

Without further ado, here are the best hikes in Louisville and the best hikes near Louisville!

Excited to get outdoors this weekend? Check out a few of these other posts:

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The Best Hikes in Louisville

Cherokee Park

Cherokee Park is Louisville’s largest urban park, located smack dab in the middle of the Highlands neighborhood. Designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, this hilly and forested park spans over 389 acres, including walking paths, hiking trails, and biking routes.

The central feature of the park is a fully paved 2.4-mile scenic loop that you can either walk or drive. (The secret is to keep turning left to stay in the park, and turn right to exit!).

But we suggest that you head off the paved path and into the forest on the Cherokee Park Trail, where you’ll find a meandering loop that takes you through the true heart of Cherokee Park.

Cherokee Park Trail

  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 393ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide 

This easy trail will take you up and down rolling, forested hills, passing by oaks and tulip poplar trees, across meadows and by rolling creeks.

As you hike, keep an eye out for cardinals, blue jays, hummingbirds, hawks, owls, and herons! There’s even a bird sanctuary along the trail, so if you are a serious birder like Lia’s mom, bring along a pair of binoculars.

During the spring, colorful spring flowers pop into bloom along the forest floor. Look for yellow woodland poppies, white trout lilies, bluebells, and trillium.

You’ll find multiple entry points to the Cherokee Park along the Scenic Loop, so you can make your hike as long or as short as you prefer.

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Jefferson Memorial Forest

At a stunning 6,500 acres, Jefferson Memorial Forest is the largest municipal urban forest in the United States!

Located just 30 minutes from downtown Louisville and still within Louisville’s borders, a visit to Jefferson Memorial feels like stepping out of the city and into undisturbed nature.

Home to a lake and a Wildlife Refuge, Jefferson Memorial is also a Louisville park where you’ll find more rugged and challenging hikes. Think steep hills, not mountains, y’all.

Here are three excellent hiking trails in Jefferson Memorial Forest:

Scott’s Gap Trail

  • Distance: 3.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 776ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult
  • Trail Guide

Although this hike traverses somewhat more rugged terrain, the reward is one of the most stunning hikes in Louisville!

You’ll begin your hike in the Scott’s Gap parking lot. We suggest taking this trail counter-clockwise. You’ll begin with a steep 180 ft. climb to the top of a knob, but the payoff is quick: you’ll be treated to a gorgeous view of the rolling hills of Kentucky. 

From the overlook, you’ll continue hiking along the ridgeline, taking in views of the tree canopy and hills.

At just over a little of a half-mile you’ll come to a “shortcut” route – if you’re ready to head home for the day, taking this shortcut makes a quick 1.3-mile loop.

But if you continue hiking, you’ll descend and be treated to a shaded forest filled with lush, Jurassic-looking ferns and mushrooms happily growing in Kentucky red clay.

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mitchell lake in jefferson memorial forest in fairdale kentucky
Mitchell Lake is quiet and the perfect place for a picnic lunch.

Yost Ridge Trail to Mitchell Lake Trail

  • Distance: 3.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 800ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Guide

This hike begins at the Jefferson Memorial Welcome Center. Before you head out, pick up a trail map and use the bathroom!

You’ll begin by climbing to the top of the ridge. Look carefully for a glimpse of downtown Louisville through the trees! The Louisville skyline is just 7 miles away – easily viewable in the fall and winter when leaves have fallen.

You’ll wind along the top of the ridge for 1.1 miles before intersecting with Mitchell Lake Trail. Take this trail and you’ll descend into woods lined with fragrant pine trees.

Continue until you reach another fork – this will take you to the loop around the pond. You can take either direction, but I prefer to go to the left for a pleasant downhill through lush ferns before reaching the lake.

The lake is the place to take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch! Snag a picnic table and enjoy.

Siltstone Trail

  • Distance: 12.1 miles~
  • Elevation Gain: 2,211ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate/Difficult
  • Trail Guide

The Siltstone Trail is about a 6.06-mile trail (12.1 miles if you go all the way and back) and can be started at either the parking lot across the road from the Jefferson Memorial Welcome Center, or the Scott’s Gap parking lot.

I’ve only ever started by the welcome center, and you hike pretty far up at first to get along the knobs of southern Jefferson County, getting to hike along some of the area’s tallest points.

The hike is almost entirely wooded and along the ridgeline, where you can see all kinds of trees and deer and wild turkey. During your hike you will also cross the road twice, taking you down to street level and back up to the knobs again.

The great thing about an out-and-back is that you don’t have to do it all! You can hike for a while and turn around. This is definitely a quiet trail and gets you some great elevation.

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harrods creek in prospect ky
Harrods Creek is shallow enough to get your feet wet on a sunny day!

Harrods Creek Park

Harrods Creek is located in a subdivision called Hunting Creek, which is about 20 minutes from downtown in the suburb of Prospect. Though it may be a bit confusing as you drive through a fancy neighborhood – it’s true – some of the best hikes in Louisville are hidden in swanky neighborhoods (like Cherokee Park in Cherokee Triangle!).

Park either on the road by a sign that reads “Harrods Creek” and hike in, or drive down the world’s narrowest road to the world’s smallest parking lot. I recommend the first option.

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Blue Trail / Orange Trail

  • Distance: 2.2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 370ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide

Once you park on Montero Drive, head down into the forest which takes you by a small stream towards the parking lot you didn’t park at. You’ll want to get onto the blue trail from there, which is a rolling path that will take you under the nice shady canopy of the forest.

As you venture along the path you’ll find a couple of lookout points with swinging benches where you can take a load off and enjoy the sights of meadows down below. You’re allowed to just sit and enjoy nature, you know!

After only about a mile you will find what you’re looking for – a beach! While it isn’t very large, it’s sandy and a place to stop and dip your toes in the water.

During the summer, people picnic in this area and wade in the refreshing, shallow water. Harrods Creek is one of the best places to go kayaking in Louisville, so people may float on by you as they venture down the river. As you enjoy the water, do keep in mind the other side of the creek is private property, so don’t venture too far over there.

Once you’ve decided you’ve had enough of the beach, you can take the Blue trail back, or change it up and take the Orange trail. While the Orange trail is the same distance, you’ll walk more through the valley which you saw from the swinging benches. And since this trail isn’t as forested, expect to get a lot more sun exposure. So be prepared!

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The Parklands of Floyds Fork

The Parklands of Floyds Fork is only about 20 miles outside of downtown Louisville, but it feels like you’re in an entirely different world. And I should mention that though I say “park”, the Parklands is actually 4 separate parks situated over a whopping 4000 acres.

There is so much to see and do here, like exploring 60-miles of hiking trails. And who can say if you will run into a Kentucky folklore monster?

  • Note from Lia: This is right by my family farm, where I grew up! The Pope Lick Monster and the haunted train trellis are very much a part of Louisville lore… in fact, you just might see him at one of the scariest haunted houses in Louisville in October!

Wild Hyacinth Trail

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 144ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Guide

Located in Turkey Run Park, The Wild Hyacinth Trail is a true jewel of a trail. It is a newer trail to me, which I only discovered after people mentioned it was their favorite trail at the Parklands. This was reinforced in the first few minutes of hiking the trail when a fellow hiker said to me “this may be the best hike here.” You can’t argue with that!

Park at the Ben Stout House parking lot, and then take the paved trail across the street to find the trailhead. You’ll walk right into a lush forest and then across a hilly meadow, which will be decked in wildflowers during the warmer months. Echinacea, milkweed, and black-eyed Susans are just some of the many flowers blowing in the breeze with bees kissing their petals.

After you head back down into the forest, you’ll traverse rolling hills and shallow creeks until you cross the paved Louisville Loop, the main pedestrian throughway of the park, which once finished will be a 100-mile loop around Louisville.

Cross this path and into the woods, where you’ll come to a fork in the road: choices! Well, it just makes a loop, so pick your poison.

Luscious ferns line this loop, along with trees and shallow streams with limestone rock formations that you can totally walk around and look at. This trail really has all the pretty features that make a hike great – enjoy it!

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The interlocked stone bridge in the Woodland Garden is a gorgeous centerpiece.

Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden Trail

  • Distance: 1.1 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 147ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide

Tucked away in Broadrun Park is the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden Trail, an easy hike that packs in a lot of flora in a small amount of space.

The Parklands designed the Moss Gibbs Woodland Garden to show off the best of native Kentucky trees and shade plants, the hillside dotted with native perennials, like shrubs, ferns, and mayapples. They wanted to create different sections that feel like “rooms”.

The trail runs alongside Floyds Fork, the main river that runs through the Parklands, with stunning views of the water, which you can also hike down to if you like.

The trail has many features like benches, trails that branch off like ones with elevated stepping stones, and lots of creative and artistic touches, like an interlocked stone bridge. There’s lots of signage pointing out features like a Venerable Oak, a Cathedral of cedars, and even an area called the “Garden of Whimsy”.

This hike may not deliver the most blood-pumping experience, but it will show off how magical a native shade garden can be!

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Valley of the Giants Trail

  • Distance: 1.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 13ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide

Located in Beckley Creek Park, the Valley of the Giants trail is named for the giant sycamore trees that line the shaded hiking path.

Park at the Distillery bend parking lot, and you’ll head into a lush forest where the trail runs along Floyd’s Fork where you’ll have great views of the water and get to see all those gorgeous giant Sycamores up close.

The actual trail is really just 0.63 miles, so you can either take it as an out-and-back, or return along the paved Louisville Loop through the Grand Alle of trees, fountains and wetlands.

Along the trail, there are a few side trails that will lead you down to the water if you want to get your feet wet, just beware it can be a little muddy and slick!

The Best hikes Near Louisville

It would be impossible to list all the best hikes for Louisville locals without mentioning the ones near Louisville, since there are so many amazing trails a short way out of the city.

In just 30 minutes to an hour outside of the city, you can explore so many more fantastic trails that have a feeling of remoteness to them to really help you connect with nature.

Here are my favorite hikes near Louisville, and my recommendation for which trails you should take!

Bernheim Forest

Local favorite Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest is just about 30 miles down 65 south, and is home to 16,137 acres of pristine woodland beauty with 40 miles of trails!

This nature preserve has a gorgeous welcome center and cafe, tons of events and programming (hi, night hikes!), and plenty of sculptures and art dotted throughout the park. It’s an oasis!

A man named Isaac Wolf Bernheim donated the land in 1929 to be a place for people to enjoy nature and feel regenerated. And that’s exactly what happens when you visit Bernheim!

Forest Giants Trail

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 50ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide

Some of Louisville’s most beloved residents are … giants! What was meant to be a temporary exhibit, the Forest Giants now seem to have taken permanent residence (until at least 2024 anyway). The giants are three larger-than-life 30’+ sculptures made from natural materials by Danish artist Thomas Dambo and people can’t get enough of them. There’s even a fairytale about them!

The hike is a simple two-mile out-and-back hike that starts at the visitor center and takes you to the Olmstead Ponds to the first giant, Little Nis, who is staring at his reflection in the water. The second giant you will find across the Big Prairie, which is home to wildflowers and native grasses.

Located on the Sun and Shade Loop, giant Mama Loumari lies back cradling her belly – pregnant with a baby giant! This area has an awesome outdoor playground too, for little ones to play in the shade of Mama.

The last stretch of the trail takes you across the bridges of Lake Nevin, past cypress and magnolia trees, to find Little Elina, sitting in a clearing and holding a rock.

This hike is pretty flat and easy, with a lot of it being paved (with great signage pointing the way), just keep in mind there are a lot of sunny areas like the plains so have a sunhat and sunscreen. Get here early to help you avoid the crowds!

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Elm Lick Trail

  • Distance: 5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 646ft
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trail Guide

Elm Lick Trails is a gorgeous, semi-long, difficult trail. So why did I try to trail run it in summer without water the first time I did it? Because I’m dumb, that’s why. So first off, bring lots of water and be prepared to HIKE.

But don’t let my foolishness deter you, this 5-mile hike near the back of Bernheim is a great workout and so serene and quiet – it’s like being in the woods alone. Literally!

Either way you go on this loop trail is going to involve you descending 646ft and ascending it at the end. If you go clockwise, you’ll traverse a series of switchbacks, and counterclockwise takes you down a steeper path. Really just decide which you’d like to do at the end of your hike!

Once you get down to the forest floor you’ll cross creeks and riverbeds, with irises and other flowers blooming in the spring. There’s even a giant old grain silo you’ll encounter. So enjoy looking at the mushrooms, and pack a lunch for a forest picnic!

  • Pro Tip: If your legs aren’t wobbly after your hike, take a short drive to the Canopy Tree Walk, which is a bridge that takes you 75-feet over the forest canopy. This is especially stunning in the fall!
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Millennium Trail

  • Distance: 13.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 2,280ft
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Trail Guide

Do you scoff at the thought of a five-mile trail? Are your legs far too superior for such a short length? Well, I may have the trail for you.

Bernheim has something a little harder, longer, more grueling. That trail is the Millennium Trail and it’s 13.75 miles long and takes about 6-7 hours to complete. How about that?

The hike is so long that they have a sign-in policy so they are aware of who is on the trail, and if there is a heat advisory it’s automatically closed for the day.

The trail itself takes you through forests of oak-hickory and beech-maple trees, over plenty of streams, and up and down plenty of ridges with a lot of elevation change and steep slopes. Some of the path is pretty rough, and it may be good to keep a map just in case all sections are not marked as well as you’d like.

The halfway point is at Paul’s Point Loop at mile 7 in case you want to bail and walk the road back. While this hike is a challenge, it’s a pretty safe place to challenge yourself with a longer hike!

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Charlestown State Park

Located in Charlestown, Indiana about 30 minutes away from downtown Louisville, this park is one of the best places near Louisville to hike, with over 15,000-acres right on the Ohio river, meaning some of the trails have killer river views! It may be my personal favorite place to hike.

It is a state park, so admission during the warmer months is $7 for Indiana residents and $9 for out-of-state visitors.

Oh! And I should mention that there is a 1920s abandoned resort/amusement park called Rose Island. Yes, for real!

rose island sign at charlestown state park in indiana
Rose Island was a jazz-age hotspot for swimming and fun!

Trail 3 / Trail 7 (Rose Island Loop)

  • Distance: 2-3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 370ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Guide

So you wanna hear about this 1920s abandoned amusement park, huh? I thought you might! The park was originally visited by fancy Victorian tourists during riverboat excursions when the Louisville Ferry Company bought it in 1881, but in 1923 it became Rose Island, though it’s really a peninsula.

The “island” was purchased by David Rose (not of Schitt’s Creek fame), to become a summer resort with a small wooden roller coaster, golf course, dance and dining halls, riverside cottages, the Rose Island Hotel, and a zoo with monkeys, a wolf, and a bear named “Teddy Rosevelt”. Everything that a fancy Victorian tourist needs for amusement!

Unfortunately, the Great Flood of 1937 which submerged 70% of Louisville also submerged Rose Island, really putting a damper on the fun and ultimately causing the island to be abandoned. For pictures of Rose Island in its heyday, check out this website.

Luckily, you can still see some of the ruins of the resort’s golden era by taking the whimsically named Trail 3 down a steep, paved path (it’s a b*tch getting back up it) to the Rose Island Bridge, which will take you over to the remains of what was once a jazz-age attraction.

There isn’t a ton to still see today, but you can walk down the promenade with archways that were once flush with climbing roses, see the old swimming pool (which is filled with gravel, boo), and see the foundations of the old dance hall.

There are also plenty of interpretative signs with photos to paint a picture of what Rose Island once was, and you can get close to the water and hear the faint sound of Victorian ghost tourists pulling up in ferry boats, maybe.

When you are done, head back across the bridge and get ready for the climb of your life, or make a right once you’re over the bridge onto Trail 3 and head into the wooded part of trail 3, which is about a mile and a half back but take you up a little more gradually, plus you can enjoy the woods!

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Trail 6

  • Distance: 2.3 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 249ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Guide

Down by the riverside is where you’ll be for Trail 6, at the farthest end of the park which you’ll drive by forests and meadows to reach.

Once you get down by the river, park at the Riverside Outlook, the first parking lot you see. Don’t keep driving to the second parking lot, Charlestown landing, or the trailhead will be hard to find! Look at this map and look for the trailhead opposite Riverside Overlook – you must keep your eyes peeled!

As you enter the trail you’ll traverse a stretch of dense forest, then climb a steep section until you reach the river bluff. From here you’ll have stunning views of the Ohio River beyond the trees as you walk deeper along the ridge and across a bridge over a waterfall.

There are also some stone ruins along this trail, with plenty of mushrooms dotting the area around the trails. Near the end of the bluff you’ll cross a meadow covered in wildflowers, which winds back down to street level.

The last part of the trail is along the bottom of the limestone bluff, taking you past the scenic old ammunition plant and to the parking lot where you started.

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tree with picnic table under it at deam lake state recreation area in clark county indiana
Deam Lake is a good place for hiking – and the beach!

Deam Lake

Deam Lake State Recreation Area is in Carr Township Indiana, about a 30-minute drive from Louisville. Deam Lake’s main draw is its sandy beach and swimming area, since it’s the closest beach to Lousiville, but in the cooler months it’s also a fantastic place to hike.

The lake is 194-acres and is a man-made lake, though with the wildlife like deer, turkey, and foxes roaming around it it’s hard to believe it was only constructed in 1965.

Lake Vista Trail (Trail 4)

  • Distance: 2.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 341ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Guide

The most scenic and most rugged trail in Deam Lake State Park is the Lake Vista Trail, and as you can surmise from the name, it also has the best views of the lake!

This loop trail is actually a bit north of the lake itself near the back of the park, and you’ll park in a gravel parking lot beside a wooden barn at the entrance of the campground. You’ll follow the Yellow Horse Trail for a bit before you find a big wooden sign which reads “Lake Vista“.

This trail first winds through some swampy bottomlands, so this is a trail you’ll probably want to avoid after heavy rains. But the real reward of this trail is after you’ve climbed up to the ridgeline you will be able to see the lake in the distance, especially from the large limestone cutout at the highest point.

The lake is easiest to see in the winter months when the leaves have fallen, but hiking in the warmer seasons is fun too when you catch little glimpses of the lake through the trees, especially with flowers and mushrooms dotting the trail. While this trail is a bit challenging, it’s a great hike and the views make it even better.

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Knobstone Trail

  • Distance: 2 miles~
  • Elevation Gain: 100ft~
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide

Knobstone trail is more than just a trail – it’s an epic adventure. This trail is actually 60 miles long, the longest in Indiana! While you could hike this entire thing, be my guest, I am going to tell you about a leisurely, abridged version.

The reason I like taking a short version of this hike is that after you hike down into the woods, you come along a grassy ridge that is one side of the lake’s dam. Wildflowers sway in the wind, you can see people swimming in the distance, and sailboats cruise gently over the water. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic and feels like something out of a Miyazaki film – very pastoral and magical.

If you continue across the damn you will hike up into the woods, taking a large ascent which gives you lake views from an elevation, and it will eventually take you north of the lake altogether.

But I really suggest walking across the dam and then treating yourself to a swim in the lake or tanning on the sandy beach!

To find the trailhead, take the first right on the first road you see when entering the park and park in the parking lot.

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Clifty Falls State Park

Just about an hour from Louisville in the super adorable city of Madison, Clifty Falls State Park has trails around a canyon, with waterfalls spilling from impressive heights into the floor below. There are also bat caves and some of the most elevated hiking trails around.

Trail #5 (Tunnel Falls to Lily Memorial)

  • Distance: 1.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 305ft
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Trail Guide

This out-and-back 1.75-mile trail winds you along a tree-lined limestone cliffside, which you will reach by taking a long set of stairs from the parking lot. Once you get down to the trailhead, there’s a giant waterfall. Lucky you!

The 83-foot Tunnel Falls cascades into the gorge below, and it’s the tallest falls in the park and one of the tallest in Indiana! In the winter this waterfall may be frozen as well, adding to its mystical allure.

Walking along the embankment you’ll be surrounded by the towering cliffside on your left and the canyon on your right, crossing various bridges and ferns tucked into shady spots. Soon you’ll find one of the most interesting features of the trail! The nananananananana bat cave!

While this cave was originally a train tunnel from 1852, today this 600-foot-long cave is now home to cute little bats that hibernate in it from late fall through the winter, and from May 1st until October 31st, you can hike this cave!

Be sure to bring a light, because even though it isn’t very long, it is dark. There’s also a small waterfall and a pool inside, along with critters like bats, salamanders, and cave spiders, so yeah… bring that light!

After exiting the cave, hopefully not taking any critters with you, hike along the road until you reach the road, then turn around! Venture back into the bat cave, or just go around it on the trail!

The area is so cute, you can make a day of it and visit Madison, Indiana!

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Abbey of Gethsemani

The Abbey of Gethsemani is about an hour outside of Louisville located by Bardstown, Kentucky (you know, bourbon country) where the famous Trappist Monk Thomas Merton lived.

The Abbey is still a functioning monastery, but what a lot of people don’t know is that there are 1500 acres of forests, meadows, lakes, and knobs to explore. Just don’t tell anybody, okay? Seriously, this is my best-kept secret!

Trail to the Statues

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 124ft
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Trail Guide

Gethsemani is the kind of place that truly feels like a retreat – in fact, many of the people who visit are here for a self-guided silent retreat. The feeling of calmness in the forest and fields is immense. The only thing that may stress you out is trying to find the trailhead!

In order to find it, cross Monks Road (the main road you came in on) and head north until you find an opening in the woods with a sign that reads “trail to statues”.

The trail is an easy 2-ish mile out-and-back trail that first takes you through the woods until you reach a pond, which in the summer, is home to large, beautiful white lotuses. You’ll then take a pair of stairs to reach a bluff, where you’ll walk along the ridge passing religious statues and wildflowers.

Once you get closer to where the real “statues” are, you’ll pass through an alley of trees with a sleek, modernist-style Mary statue. The trees give way to open, rolling hills, where you’ll enter another forested area with the Statues, which depict the Stations of the Cross.

Even if you aren’t religious, exploring this land is totally rejuvenating, you can wander all over for hours. Just don’t get lost!

Bonus: Even More Hikes in Louisville!

There are so many hikes in Louisville and in the surrounding areas, and as much as I want to, I haven’t done them all! Plus this post is getting longgggg, so here is my hiking to-do list! (Also, a special shout-out to Let’s Go Louisville reader Ben for some suggestions!)

  • Iroquois Park Overlook, Iroquois Park. 1.2 miles, 213 ft elevation gain. Hike up to the top of this Olmsted park and get amazing views of the city miles away!
  • Otter Creek Trail, Otter Creek Outdoor Recreation Area. 8.6 miles, 721 ft elevation gain. Otter Creek is a local favorite, and there are plenty of shorter trails here too. You can also swim in the blue hole swimming area – take me there!
  • Coral Ridge Loop, Jefferson Memorial Forest. 2.9 miles, 328 ft elevation gain. This loop has plenty of wildflowers and shade, with gorgeous views of Louisville to the north!
  • Garvin Brown Nature Preserve, Prospect, Louisville. 2ish miles, flat. This isn’t so much of a hike as a gorgeous walk through a 46-acre nature preserve, with plenty of views of the Ohio river and fields of wildflowers.
  • Rocky Ridge Bike and Hike Trail, Harrison-Crawford State Forest. 2 miles, 200 ft elevation gain. Explore deep ravines, climb rocky hills, and get some beautiful views of the Blue River.
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hiker at harrods creek in prospect kentucky
I’ve gone out on a limb to tell you that Louisville has some of the best hiking!

Hiking in Louisville: Things to Keep in Mind

Here are a few tips and tricks to help you get onto the trails on the right foot, or the left if you like.

  • Spring and Fall are the best time to hike in Louisville. In the spring you’ll get wildflowers, and in the fall you’ll get colorful leaves! Summer is good too – but hotter – so start early when it’s hot out!
  • Bug repellant is a must. May-September in Kentucky is very buggy, and not just mosquitoes, but ticks! Don’t be a walking blood bank and get some good bug repellent. You could spray your clothes with Permethrin spray too for extra safety.
  • Respect our beautiful natural areas. Please remember to follow all Leave No Trace Principles and leave the land as you found it: natural, healthy, and pristine.
  • Be respectful of wildlife. You probably won’t see more than deer and squirrels as you hike, but do be aware there may be the occasional snake. Give animals the right of way, and know they’re more scared of you!
  • If you’re an ecowarrior, bring a trash bag with you to help pick up. Trash along the trail is a real bummer, so if you think about it bring a trash bag to collect litter. Gloves may be a good idea as well, or one of those pickup sticks, and don’t pick up anything that looks dangerous.
  • Be respectful of other people while hiking. What I mean is don’t shout and blare your music and be generally annoying. People go hiking to connect with nature and recharge, not to listen to you mark your territory or whatever.

About the Author: Richie Goff is a Louisville, Kentucky native with a great love of the outdoors. When he is not growing flowers for fun, he is the Editor-in-Chief of Practical Wanderlust and Let’s Go Louisville. He has been a friend of Lia’s since high school, and they have been exploring Louisville together ever since!

See also
The 21 Best Louisville Tours (by a local tour guide)

Which of our hikes in Louisville do you want to do first? Do you have a favorite I haven’t included? Drop us a comment below!

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There is no shortage of fantastic hikes in Louisville! Most Louisville hiking trails are in their own park systems, each of which has a myriad of hiking trails to choose from. As an avid hiker, I always find myself drawn to new paths to find out my next favorite hike. And lucky for you, I've collected them in one post! I've listed them by park, and my recommendations for which hiking trails to take within each park. Discover abandoned amusement parks, waterfalls, caves, giants, and more!
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  1. He needs to do a liymore research on his urban parks. Iroquois Park is almost twice the size of Cherokee Park and has many more internal trails throughout the park that are a lot more challenging than anything at Cherokee. The wildlife is also much more plentiful and diverse.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! We try to do as much research as we can, but we are all human and things do slip through the cracks. We always appreciate fact-checking from wonderful readers, like you 🙂

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