John Holder Trail is a 3.5 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Winchester, KY that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.
The John Holder trail (1.4 mi one way) starts at Hall's Restaurant on State Road 418. The trail immediately drops down to an old ford across Howard's Creek and circles around to an old plantation home. Great for a day hike. This scenic trail immediately drops down to an old ford across Howard's Creek that was part of the Athen-Boonesboro Turnpike (circa. 1775), then it continues up along a ridgeline past foundations of old ice houses to the Benjamin Hieronymous homestead. The homestead contains three cemeteries, including the 1798 grave of Colonel John Holder.
Great trail. Wear shoes that can get wet. Would be better if the restricted area was opened up.
--Not the same trail it used to be--
The marked trail (as it is in the pamphlet at the trail head) is lackluster to say the least. A very short way in, you descend down and cross the creek. Shortly after you come to a bend in the river. This area is beautiful. A sheer cliff face, swimmable pools, scenery, etc. To trudge on beyond that point is an exercise in boredom. Sight lines are non existent during the "green" spring/summer seasons. I imagine this improves during fall/winter, possibly allowing for some really nice views. The rest of the marked trail includes highlights such as a stone wall, a couple overgrown cemeteries, a dilapidated office building from the 80's, and an old basketball hoop. Seriously, the last part of this trail seems like it was all an afterthought. A sort of, "Hey, we need to add on to this.....What if we lead them up to the concrete walking trail that leads to the old office?"
And this makes sense when you consider....
The nicest part of this hike. The part with multiple river crossings, beautiful scenery, and a big suspension bridge IS ALL OFF LIMITS. Posted No Trespassing. Prosecution and fines.
Of course, we went anyway and it was nice. Thats the only reason this place gets more than 1.5 stars.
So basically, the hike used to be a lot better until someone decided to cut out the part of the trail that people want to see, and then added some filler. If you have some kids who enjoy water and nature OR if you're willing to break the law this trail is OK.
Love it. Enjoyed the environment and the tranquility. Easy trail just wear good water proof hiking boots your feet will get wet!
Google maps is accurate to location. Resturant, parking and trail maps at trail head. Trail well maintained easy to follow. Most scenic portion of trail is stream bed area. Do have to walk in stream. If high water may be difficult. Most of trail is in forest along gorge ridge line. Foliage blocks views. Best to go when no leaves on trees.
nice trail with a small water fall and a few swimming spots. not a hard hike. easy hike for kids
Expect your feet to get wet!
Wasn't expecting it to be as great as it was! Wear something you don't mind getting wet. You have to cross a couple of creeks. Great areas for little ones to swim in. Has a pretty neat suspension bridge and historic structures. Seen a few people canoeing as well. All in all an excellent experience. Will be back soon with swimsuits.
When I first hiked this trail, I didn't expect much. Boy was I wrong!!! For what it is, this trail is extremely scenic -- and historic. It has a lot of recent improvements on it (bridges), and a way to cross the river (some stones beyond the ford) without getting soaked. There are a lot of interesting ecosystems here, and a diversity of plant life I have yet to witness on any other Kentucky trail (there are a lot of rare plants here if you know what to look for). In the evening, the North American Brown Bat can be seen quietly swooping for insects above the river. Alligator gar float still in the waters, hunting their prey. There are old structures, stone walls from another time, beautiful waterfalls, an awesome rope bridge, historical markers, you name it. I honestly love this trail, living within driving distance. It is well developed, and truly a hidden treasure. It is not a remote wilderness, but its appeals are historical ones.
This trail does not allow dogs, so leave your companion at home. After you cross the river, the trail (an old wagon trail) snakes up the mountain. It's not too hard, but it's a challenge. It comes out in an old paved driveway. Head to the right, and cross an old cattle gate, and you'll see the abandoned office and chimney of the Holder estate (they refer to it here as an "old plantation home." There are two old barns, and an old cemetery. It's pretty stinking neat. If you were to go straight instead of right (down the pavement) and follow the old stone wall across the field, you'll see a trailer, which I believe belongs to the dept of agriculture for EKU, I could be totally mistaken. It doesn't appear anyone lives here. The road leads steeply to the bottom of the mountain here where a rope bridge crosses the stream, it's really freaking awesome. They've really used huge stones and developed the area here, someone has poured a lot of money into construction down there. On the way down the mountain to the left there is another really awesome waterfall. After you cross that awesome rope bridge, there's an old rock house, mostly destroyed. I can't recall the history behind it at the moment, although I used to know. If you keep going a little further (do it) it leads to two cabins that are preserved with an overhead tin shelter/roof and no trespassing signs, from the dept of archaeology. It's awesome. Obviously don't go in there, the buildings are not structurally sound, but they're magnificent to examine.
This trail is not for beginners. It was fun, the scenery is absolutely gorgeous, but the trails themselves are a bit tough to maneuver.
This trail is NOT dog friendly. Drove an hour for nothing.