Spend this summer seeking adventure in Kentucky, which has hundreds of miles of hiking trails, dozens of sites to fish, and enough white water to keep you rafting until the end of the season.
For outdoor excitement, head to the Daniel Boone National Forest. The Sheltowee Trace National Recreation Trail spans an incredible 280 miles, according to Kimberly J. Morgan, public affairs specialist, and has a hiking stretch for everyone.
The Red River Gorge National Recreation Trails and the Redbird Crest Trail add their own charms to the park. “A lot of the trails link and interconnect with Sheltowee,” says Morgan, which gives you the power to choose your own adventure as you go.
CAMP, HIKE, RIDE
Hikers, horseback riders, and bikers can spend a few hours exploring the trails, or make it an overnight with camping equipment and a stay in one of the park’s 20 campgrounds. Some sites are developed with all the amenities, and some are primitive so you can experience life off the beaten path without electricity and running water.
The diligent adventurer may see some of the 23 endangered species protected by the park. One major species that lives here is the Virginia big-eared bat, which makes its home in the rocky cliffs of the region. Waiting patiently for the sun to set as these creatures wake up and fly out of their caves is an experience few outdoor enthusiasts have enjoyed.
Visit the three different lakes contained in this National Forest, and discover nature at its best. For the fishing adventure of the summer, travel to the east side of Daniel Boone National Park to Cave Run Lake. Enormous, with 8,300 acres of surface area, this lake is known as the “Muskie Fishing Capital of the South.” Nearby towns Frenchburg and Morehead provide lodging and food.
The lake is idyllic. “One of the neatest things about Cave Run is it’s a large lake, and very open, so you can sail with the family,” says Morgan. It’s the perfect spot to drift out onto the water with dozens of other people carrying rods or sailing boats.
Adventure awaits in the surrounding forests for those who prefer to keep their feet firmly on dry land. “There are two camping areas nearby and picnic areas,” Morgan says. “We also get a lot of horseback riders because the trails are so close.”
Further south, but still within the boundaries of the national forest, is Red River Gorge, a unique area that is well worth the trip for those who like canoes and rafts. Rent a canoe or raft and set off down the Red River on a trip of discovery and wonder. With sections perfect for everyone from beginner to the experienced rafter, this area can make a family vacation into an adventure on the water.
“There are hundreds of arches and geologic rock features in Red River,” says Morgan. Float by them and marvel at the breathtaking beauty of the naturally sculpted rock. Along the way, see if you can spot any of the wildlife or rock shelters that make this area of Kentucky so unique.
“It’s breathtaking. If you’ve never been,” says Morgan, “it’s something you shouldn’t miss.”
For more information: www.fs.fed.us/r8/boone or www.stateparks.com.