Hit the Trails
The Natural Areas Division has nearly 50 miles of trail available for hiking, trail running, mountain biking, and horse riding. Jefferson Memorial Forest offers over 35 miles of scenic woodland trail for hiking, trail running and eleven miles available for equestrian use. Additionally, the Tulip Tree and Memorial Trails are handicapped accessible. Waverly Park offers over eight miles of multi-use trail for mountain biking and hiking. We invite you to explore these and other Natural Area Division trails. When exploring the map links below please note that trails in Jefferson Memorial Forest and Waverly Park have location numbers mounted on posts which correspond to those locations on the maps. Distances are indicated between trail junctions on the map and provide you the opportunity to plan your own individual trip and be able to calculate the route distance.
Trails at Jefferson Memorial Forest:
Horine Reservation Trails
12304 Holsclaw Hill Rd.
Mitchell Hill Lake Trail, (1.4 miles)
Accessed from the Horine Trailhead parking lot or Welcome Center via the Yost Ridge Trail. Strenuous along two sections of the loop down to the lake. Hikers are rewarded with beautiful views of Mitchell Hill Lake and various wildlife and interesting wetland plants around the lake.
Orange Trail, (2.0 miles)
Accessed from the Horine Trailhead parking lot via the Red Trail. Strenuous as the trail passes through a scenic 180 ft. valley descent with an ephemeral stream, otherwise much of the trail is moderate to easy.
Red Trail, (4.8 miles)
Accessed from the Horine Trailhead parking lot. Most of the trail is moderate in difficulty, following flat ridges until it traverses two valleys on the southwest side where the elevation changes are strenuous with 200 ft. elevation changes. Since the trail leads hikers through upland and lowland habitats, a good diversity of plants, animals and geology can be discovered. A short diversion at marker H14 will take hikers to the Horine family cemetery.
Red Trail -shortcut route, (3.1 miles)
Accessed form the Horine Trailhead parking lot. This shortcut route of the Red Trail is moderate for most of the trip with one 200 ft. strenuous valley crossing.
Paul Yost Recreation Area Trails
11405 Holsclaw Hill Rd.
Coral Ridge Loop, (2.5 miles)
The round trip distance from the Paul Yost parking lot is 2.9 miles. The trail is moderate in difficulty and gradually ascends from the parking area to the upland knobs with spectacular views of Louisville to the north.
Holsclaw Hill Loop, (2.4 miles)
The round trip distance from the Paul Yost parking lot is from 6.6 to 8.0 miles depending on the route taken. This moderate trail winds around knobs and ridges. Upland forest and rich valleys are of special interest along the route.
Button Mold View Loop (1.5 miles)
The round trip distance from the Paul Yost parking lot is from 9.5 to 11.3 miles, depending on the route taken. Like the other loops in Paul Yost, the trail traverses the uplands and is of moderate difficulty. A very nice view of geologically historical Buttonmold Knob can be seen from the southeastern most portion of the loop.
Tom Wallace Recreation Area Trails
11310 Mitchell Hill Rd.
Purple Heart Trail, (1.8 miles)
This trail is most easily accessed from the back parking lot in Tom Wallace Recreation Area. This rugged and strenuous trail begins with a steep ascent to the loop which follows a u-shaped ridgeline to a steep valley crossing. Nice vistas exist along the western ridgeline and are especially nice in winter when leaves are absent.
This trail can be accessed from the Welcome Center, Tom Wallace Recreation Area, Bearcamp Rd., or Scott’s Gap. The trail is named for the common stone capping the knobs and is one of the oldest and most loved trails in the Forest. It features steep ascents and descents along ridges and around tall knobs. Please keep in mind that the trail is 6.7 miles one way from the Welcome Center to Scott’s Gap. For the full trail map you will need both the Tom Wallace Recreation Area map and Scott’s Gap Section map.
Tom Wallace Lake Loop, (0.6 miles)
The trail is accessed from multiple locations around the lake. Most of the trail is easy with the exception of the south side which has a narrow route along the steep hillside. This short trail makes for an enjoyable nature hike along the lake edge.
Tulip Tree Trail, (0.3 miles)
This easy and very enjoyable trail is most easily accessed from the Tom Wallace lower parking lot. The route has concrete walks and several bridge crossings of a stream. It gradually ascends into a rich cove where you can observe numerous tree, fern, wildflower, bird and insect species. A small woodland shelter is at the end of the trail.
Welcome Center Memorial Trail, (0.13 miles)
This concrete and decked path follows the base of the knob directly behind the Welcome Center. Along this easy route you can enjoy the Welcome Center plantings and native forest.
Yost Ridge Trail, (2.2 miles)
This trail of moderate difficulty is most easily accessed from the Welcome Center, Paul Yost, or Horine parking areas. This scenic trail serves to connect three areas of Jefferson Memorial Forest and makes for a really nice family hike in the Forest. Visitors often hike the Yost Ridge Trail from the Welcome Center to and around the Mitchell Hill Lake Trail and back, a 3.2 mile round trip.
Scott’s Gap Trail, (3.3 miles)
Easiest access is from the Scott’s Gap parking lot. This strenuous trail traverses the hills and valleys of the westernmost portion of the Forest. The most challenging section (if traveling counter-clockwise) is the beginning where the trail follows a steep 180 ft. climb to the top of a knob. The northern portions of the route follow ridgelines whereas the southern sections follow lower elevations.
Scott’s Gap Trail -shortcut route, (1.3 miles)
This shortened route is strenuous and includes a 180 ft. ascent and descent. As with the longer hike, beautiful overlooks of the surrounding landscapes reward hikers at the summit of the climb.
Meadow Meander Trail (0.6 miles)
Made from compacted gravel, this path accommodates wheelchairs and strollers. The easy route follows the perimeter of a prairie restoration project with a boardwalk over the pond and a meadow overlook. The trail is easily accessed from the Scott’s Gap parking lot and takes in meadow, wetland, and forest habitats along its course making it perfect for birding or wildlife watching. Hikers will enjoy a diverse assortment of beautiful wildflowers, grasses, insects and birds.
Siltstone Trail, (6.7 miles)
This trail can be accessed from the Welcome Center, Tom Wallace Recreation Area, Bearcamp Rd., or Scott’s Gap. The trail is named for the common stone capping the knobs and is one of the oldest and most loved trails in the Forest. It features steep ascents and descents along ridges and around tall knobs. Please keep in mind that the trail is 6.7 miles one way from the Scott’s Gap to the Welcome Center. For the full trail map you will need both the Tom Wallace Recreation Area map and Scott’s Gap Section map.
Other Natural Area Trails:
Trails of Waverly Park
4800 Waverly Park Rd.
Fresh Air Loop, (3.0 miles)
This is the east loop of the system and is most easily accessed from the Playground parking lot. Most of this trail follows the contours of the land around the hillsides of this forested park and is of moderate difficulty. The section of this loop in the northeast becomes very strenuous as it changes 100 ft. in elevation over a short distance.
Clinic Loop, (2.5 miles)
This is considered the middle loop of the system and is easily accessed from the Playground parking lot or the westernmost parking lot. This moderate route follows the middle elevations of the hillsides just below the ridge lines. The trail features frequent but gentle hills and curves along the route making mountain biking very fun.
Twisting Bends Loop, (2.2 miles)
This is the west loop of the system. Most of the route is moderate but it does become strenuous in pronounced elevation changes on the western portion of the loop. This trail has nice woodland flora and overlooks of Bobby Nichols Golf Course.
Playground Loop, (0.5 miles)
This trail is easily accessed from the Playground parking lot. The Playground Loop Trail has been designed to provide a casual and easy nature hike for visitors. The route traverses interesting woodlands and streams where nature can be explored and enjoyed.
Lake Loop, (0.3 miles)
The trail provides an easy hike on a wide path around Waverly Lake where you can view abundant flora and fauna along the lakeshore. Ample parking, picnic tables and grills are found around the lake.
Beargrass Creek Greenway
2001 Lexington Rd.
Trail, (1.2 miles)
This paved and easy hike follows Beargrass Creek where you can observe herons, turtles and fish. The path is normally accessed from adjoining neighborhoods and parks and provides a great bike route between Cherokee Park to the Louisville Loop and Waterfront Park.
3916 River Rd.
Trail, (0.9 miles-round trip)
This wetland and woodland property has been well known among bird watchers as a birding hot spot for many years. The woodland path takes hikers to the wetlands and pond on the south end of the property. Abundant interesting plants and animals can be viewed on this easy hike.
9800 Thixton Ln.
Trail, (1.0 mile-round trip)
A hiking permit is required to visit Fairmount Falls. Contact the Jefferson Memorial Forest Welcome Center to obtain a free permit. This scenic trail of moderate difficulty features spectacular views of the falls as well as a diverse assortment of wildflowers and ferns in season.
17200 Kulmer Beach Rd.
Trail, (1.7 miles-round trip)
A parking lot and pavilion are found at the entrance of the property. The trail is easy and leads visitors along the upper bank of the Ohio River to the confluence with Salt River. Wildlife viewing is great at this location.
- Please avoid hiking or riding when trail surfaces are apt to be wet and muddy. Avoid trails following substantial periods of rain or snow, especially during winter freeze/thaw cycles (e.g., when temperatures start out below freezing and rise to above freezing by mid-day).
- Off-road vehicles/ATV’s are strictly prohibited.
- Horses and bikes are permitted on designated trails only. They are prohibited elsewhere. Bikes are currently only permitted on designated Waverly Park trails. Horses are currently only permitted on designated trails in the Paul Yost Recreation Area and the Purple Heart Trail of Tom Wallace Recreation Area.
- Hiking at Fairmount Falls requires a free permit available from the Forest’s Welcome Center.
- Stay on trails walking single file and do not shortcut corners.
- Dispose of waste properly by carrying out litter. Practicing "negative trace" by picking up trash left by others is greatly appreciated too.
- Respect wildlife. Do not try to attract or approach wildlife and never feed human food to animals as this disrupts their natural food cycle.
- Pets are welcome to join you on your hike but must be kept on a leash at all times.
- Leave nature in nature: Avoid moving rocks, picking plants, and disturbing cultural/historical artifacts. Take pictures instead; it allows others to enjoy the same experience you did.
- Back country camping is prohibited. Jefferson Memorial Forest does have a nice primitive campground and you may wish to reserve a spot and hike in. Learn more about camping, here.
- Know the type of terrain and possible weather conditions you might encounter. Current weather conditions are available here.
- Carry a trail map with you on your hike. Maps of the trails are available at the Welcome Center and can be downloaded from this web site.
- Carry water, snacks, and a small first aid kit. You may want to have a day pack with extra clothes, hat, rain poncho, insect repellent, flashlight, whistle, etc. Drink water and eat small snacks frequently to keep energy and hydration at optimal levels.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
- Report trail or structure damage at the Welcome Center. If you are interested in doing trail work or monitoring for the Natural Areas Division, check out our volunteer page. We are always looking for good volunteers.
- Pay attention to trail junctures and know your location on the map.
- Snacks and guidebooks to common animals and plants of the region are available in the Welcome Center.
- If you are planning to form a large group to hike or ride the trails, notify the Jefferson Memorial Forest Welcome Center (502.368.5404) well in advance of your date.
- Keep voices/noises from getting intrusively loud. Being loud negatively affects the enjoyment of the trail experience for other users.
- Greet people you meet traveling in the opposite direction. This makes sure they know you are there and makes the trail a friendlier place.
- When passing a user heading the same direction you are traveling, verbalize that you are passing well before you get close to them so they are not startled. Pass them on the left side after they acknowledge you.
- Hikers should yield to horses. When meeting a horse you should move to the downhill side of the trail and wait for the horse to pass. Speak softly as the horse passes. Being on the uphill side may make a horse think you to be a predator.
- Bikes should yield to all other trail users.
- Please report trail obstructions and issues with signs and markers.
- A Guide to Animal Tracks and Winter Tree Identification
- Checklist of Wildflowers, Plants and Trees of Mitchell Hill Lake