Kentucky State Outdoors

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State Parks
Camping and Hiking
Hunting and Fishing
Other Outdoor activities

Kentucky State Parks

Kenlake State Resort Park
Like the grand hotels of yesteryear, Kenlake blends gracious hospitality and a picture perfect setting. Kenlake offers a choice of quiet relaxation or active recreation. The resort is only minutes away from Land Between the Lakes, TVA's 170,000-acre nature lover's paradise and environmental education area. Located on the mid-west shore of Kentucky Lake, which offers the longest shoreline of any man-made lake in the world, Kenlake is the perfect spot to enjoy the great outdoors. You may want to rent a boat from the marina or play a round of golf at the park's nine-hole golf course. The park also offers an indoor tennis center, a seasonal facility with temperature-controlled courts, racquet rentals, and a pro shop. Accommodations include a lodge, cottages, and a campground. For information call: (800)255-7275


General Butler State Resort Park
This park has it all! Named for William Orlando Butler, a hero of the War of 1812 and the Mexican War, the park is spiced with history. Glimpse into the nineteenth-century in the Butler-Turpin House, an 1859 Greek Revival home with period furnishings and family heirlooms. In the summer, "hit the beach," enjoy a round of golf, or a set of tennis. In any season, enjoy the outstanding river valley views and friendly atmosphere at General Butler. The park has a lodge, cottages, campground and golf course. For information call: (800)255-7275


Dale Hollow State Resort Park
The modern lodge at this park offers unsurpassed comforts amid a backdrop of unspoiled wilderness. Perched high on a bluff, the lodge and dining room sit above a 28,000- acre lake and at the edge of 3,400 acres of unspoiled wilderness. There's great fishing here, as well as boating, scuba diving, and swimming. Abundant wildlife and miles of multi-purpose trails for hiking, horseback riding and mountain biking encourage more outdoor activities. The park features a 30-room lodge, campground, and a marina. For information call: (800)255-7275


Natural Bridge State Resort Park
It has taken millions of years to form the natural sandstone arch from which this park takes its name. Located deep in the Daniel Boone National Forest, near the Red River Gorge Geological Area, the bridge spans 78 feet and is 65 feet high. At Natural Bridge, each season has a unique charm. Hikers are drawn to this rugged, scenic area of high stone cliffs and arches, but tenderfoots can also enjoy the scenic wonders from the park's sky lift. The park has a lodge, cottages, and campground. For information call: (800)255-7275


Jenny Wiley State Resort Park
Jenny Wiley is located deep in the heart of the Appalachians, accented by scenic 1,100-acre Dewey Lake. This mountain resort is named for a brave pioneer woman who was captured by Indians in 1789, braved captivity, and courageously escaped. Hikers can follow the trails that weave through the wilderness and along the rim of crystal-clear Dewey Lake. Or if golf is your sport, enjoy the park's 9-hole golf course. During the summer, the hills ring with the sound of Broadway musicals in the Jenny Wiley Theatre. The park features a lodge, cottages, campground, and marina. For information call: (800)255-7275


Camping and Hiking in Kentucky

Barkley/Kentucky Lake Complex Area
Located in western Kentucky, Barkley Lake is 134 miles long with a shoreline measuring 1,004 miles and 57,920 acres of water at summer pool. Kentucky Lake is 184 miles long and 2 miles across at the widest point with 2,380 miles of shoreline and 160,000 acres of water. Both lakes are connected by a free flowing canal. Maintaining a reputation as one of the best fishing lakes in the country, Lake Barkley's fishery is typical of southern mainstream reservoirs: Largemouth Bass, White Bass, Crappie, Catfish, and Bluegill. Kentucky Lake is well known for crappie, catfish, blue gill, white bass, sauger, and bass. Record catches of largemouth and smallmouth can be found in Kentucky Lake. For more information, including a list of licensed fishing guides, the 38-page Kentucky Fish booklet, and subscriptions to the "Kentucky Afield" magazine, contact the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, KY 40601, or call (800)858-1549.


Cumberland River - below Wolf Creek Dam
The tailwaters of the Cumberland River below Lake Cumberland in Russell and Cumberland counties is widely considered Kentucky's premier fishery for trophy trout. It is also some of the most heavily stocked trout water in the state, receiving almost 100,000 fish each year. For more information, including a list of licensed fishing guides, the 38-page Kentucky Fish booklet, and subscriptions to the "Kentucky Afield" magazine, contact the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, KY 40601, or call (800)858-1549.


Barren River Lake
Barren River Lake is located in south central Kentucky. This 10,000-acre lake is unsurpassed for fishing pleasure. With an abundance of largemouth, white, and hybrid striped bass, bluegill, channel catfish, crappie, and rough fish, you are sure to get a bite. For more information, including a list of licensed fishing guides, the 38-page Kentucky Fish booklet, and subscriptions to the "Kentucky Afield" magazine, contact the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, KY 40601, or call (800)858-1549.


Daniel Boone National Forest
The Daniel Boone National Forest covers 670,000 acres from the Tennessee state line in McCreary County north to Fleming and Lewis counties and is owned by the US Forest Service. Numerous access points are located throughout the forest. Deer, turkey and grouse hunting are very good. For a change of pace, you may want to visit the Pioneer Weapons Hunting Area, which is a 7,480-acre tract of land adjacent to Cave Run Lake on the Morehead Ranger District. Here hunters use old-time weapons including the long bow, cross bow and muzzleloading rifles, shotguns, and pistols to harvest deer, wild turkeys squirrels, and ruffed grouse. Modern breechloading firearms are not permitted and state game regulations apply. There are several recreational areas maintained by U.S. Forest Service that offer camping, picnicking, and hiking. Maps and additional information are available from U.S. Forest Service, Winchester, KY 40391. NOTE: Much land within forest boundaries is still privately owned and permission should be obtained before entering these private holdings.


Peabody Wildlife Management Area
Covering 60,000 acres in Ohio and Muhlenberg counties this exceptionally large area offers a variety of high quality opportunities including quail, deer, and turkey hunting. A user permit is required. Ohio County is the top deer producer in the region (and usually first or second in the state) with annual harvests exceeding 2,000 whitetails. Muhlenberg County is consistently the top turkey county in the state with an annual harvest in excess of 300 birds. For permit information and an area map contact the Kentucky Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources, #1 Game Farm Road, Frankfort, KY 40601, or call (800)858-1549.


Hunting and Fishing in Kentucky

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park
Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Known as the "Niagara of the South," the waterfall forms a 125-foot wide curtain that plunges 60 feet into the boulder-strewn gorge below. The mist of Cumberland Falls creates the magic of the moonbow, only visible on clear nights during a full moon. This unique phenomenon appears nowhere else in the Western Hemisphere! Cumberland Falls is a hiker's paradise with 17 miles of hiking trails that wind through the park to scenic areas. The Moonbow Trail connects with many backpacking trails in the Daniel Boone National Forest. Enjoy the great outdoors in the campground, featuring 50 campsites with electric and water hookups. The campground has a central service building with showers and restrooms, a grocery, and a dump station. For information call: (800)255-7275


Land Between the Lakes
The 40-mile-long peninsula that lies between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley is Land Between The Lakes (LBL). It was developed by the Tennessee Valley Authority as a national recreation area. Now a World Biosphere Reserve, this vast outdoor playground is a great vacation spot for the entire family. LBL features 200 miles of scenic, heavily forested, woodland trails. The 65-mile North-South Trail follows portions of old logging and fire access roads, meandering through valleys steeped in moonshine history, by old homesteads, and along streams and scenic lakeshores. Metal open-air shelters for backpackers are spaced 15 miles apart. The Fort Henry Trail is a 26-mile series of interconnected loop trails that retrace the route used by Gen. Ulysses S. Grant from Fort Henry on the Tennessee River to Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. The 14-mile Canal Loop Trail system is popular because of the short hike potential, less strenuous terrain and scenic lake views. Camping is one of the most popular activities at Land Between The Lakes, and no wonder: there is something for every type of camper. Whether you prefer to pitch a tent along a lake cove or are equipped with a modern RV, LBL has the perfect place for you to sleep under the stars. For information call: (800)884-6558.


Mammoth Cave National Park
Located in south central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave National Park is the longest known cave system in the world! This World Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve supports several species of rare animal life and many types of cave formations, with the formative process still active today. Above ground, there are 52,830 acres of scenic protected forest lands for camping, hiking, biking, fishing and horseback riding. A number of unique plant communities - hemlocks and other northern plants growing in cool ravines, wetlands, and open barrens with prairie vegetation - shelter many of the park's rare species. Almost 900 species of flowering plants alone have been identified, with 21 of these endangered, threatened, or of special concern. Seventy miles of trails wind through the park. A half-mile trail leads to River Styx Spring, where you'll see water that's carved Mammoth Cave emerging from underground. Guided woodland walks are offered in the summer. The wheelchair-accessible Heritage Trail begins near the Sunset Point Motor Lodge. This half-mile trail features wheelchair turnouts, rest areas with benches, and lights for evening use. There are more than 60 miles of beautiful backcountry trails on the north side of the Green River. These range from the easy half-mile Ganter Cave Trail to the strenuous 10-mile Good Spring Loop. For information call: (502)758-2328.


Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Don't miss Cumberland Gap National Historical Park at the far southeastern corner of the state. Your trip to this ruggedly beautiful park will take you back in time to the history of early America. With 20,305 wilderness acres, this is the largest National Historical Park in the country. There are 55 miles of challenging hiking trails, ranging from nature hikes to overnight trails. Since 80 percent of the park is without paved roads, the remote backcountry is a hiker's paradise. Extremely rugged and scenic, the 21-mile Ridge Trail runs the length of the park from Pinnacle Overlook to White Rocks near Ewing, VA. All along the trail are vistas of mountains and valleys stretching into the distance. From White Rocks at the trail's eastern end it is possible to see the Great Smoky Mountains more than 80 miles away. Cumberland Gap is rich in wildlife, with 52 species of mammals including the white-tailed deer, bobcat and red fox, and 115 species of birds including the wild turkey, marsh hawk, ruffed grouse and an occasional bald eagle. Because of the altitude range within the park (1,300 to 3,513 feet), there is a diverse community of plant life, including the painted trilium, yellow adder's tongue and the rare Turk's cap lily. For information call: (606)248-2817.


Carter Caves State Resort Park
Carter Caves State Resort Park is located 38 miles west of Ashland near Olive Hill. Various lighted and unlighted cave tours are offered in some of the park's 20 caves. Discover the aboveground beauty of Carter Caves on the 20 miles of wooded nature trails. Trails range from easy to difficult hiking level ability. There are also 12 miles of trails along the forested hills and ridge tops of the 800-acre Tygarts State Forest adjacent to the park. The nine mile Simon Kenton Trail also runs through the forest, linking the park with the Jenny Wiley National Recreation Trail. Beautiful Tygarts Creek flows through a deep gorge lined with hemlocks and yews. Enjoy the great outdoors year-round at the park's campground featuring 89 campsites with utilities, a dump station, and two central service buildings with rest rooms and showers. For information call: (800)255- 7275


Other Kentucky Outdoor activities

Kentucky also offers the following outdoor activities:
  • The great outdoors comes alive in Kentucky with mountains, lush forests, streams, rivers, and lakes with more running water than any other state but Alaska. Kentucky's landscape provides the setting for everything from an adventurous expedition into untamed wilderness to a secluded retreat beside a lazy woodland stream. All this variety means great outdoor fun for every member of your family - camping, fishing, hiking, biking, boating, swimming, sightseeing and exploring amid some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the world.
  • Kentucky has five nationally designated outdoor recreation areas covering close to a million acres: the Daniel Boone National Forest, Mammoth Cave National Park, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Land Between The Lakes. Kentucky's state park system includes 49 parks and one interstate park with facilities for meetings and conferences, recreation, camping, sports, education and much more.
  • With 10 lakes of 5,000 or more surface acres of water, there's plenty of room on Kentucky's waters for sailboats, motorboats, houseboats and pontoons. Boat rentals of all kinds are available at marinas across the state. Houseboating is the answer for a great vacation! It's a floating hotel, private restaurant, swimming dock and sun deck. You can cruise the giant lakes or tie-up in a secluded cove to fish or scuba dive. And anyone who can drive a car can "skipper" a houseboat!
  • There are 14 major river systems in Kentucky offering lots of canoeing, kayaking and rafting experiences. Paddle down a pleasant, smooth stream or test your skills on a fast-flowing mountain river with whitewater up to Class V.
  • Bicyclists are just naturally attracted to the back roads of Kentucky. The scenic beauty of the state - at its peak in the spring and fall - the varied topography, and the generally temperate climate are the perfect ingredients for great cycling adventures. More than 600 miles of the national TransAmerica Trail are in Kentucky, running from Crittenden County at the western border to Pike County at the eastern border. Riding the back roads of this trail is a great way to view a scenic cross section of the state.
  • Horseback riding is another way to experience the special beauty of the hills, forests and rolling meadows of Kentucky and what better place to ride horses than the "Horse Capital of the World!" With several state parks and many private stables offering trail rides, Kentucky offers a variety of riding options from relaxing pony rides to adventurous trail rides to rugged overnight horse camping expeditions.
  • Golfing opportunities. Kentuckians love their golf and have developed courses for all skill levels. Great golf courses can be found throughout the state, including many of the state parks.