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Kentucky River Palisades Trail

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Tom Dorman State Nature Reserve

Kentucky River Palisades Trail is a 3.8 mile heavily trafficked loop trail located near Nicholasville, Kentucky that features a river and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

Distance: 3.8 miles Elevation Gain: 692 feet Route Type: Loop

kid friendly

hiking

nature trips

walking

bird watching

running

forest

river

views

wildlife

blowdown

rocky

no dogs

Beautiful but no dogs allowed

I really enjoyed this trail! However, I will say if you veer to the right upon entrance of the lower palisade trail, you’ll have to climb all the stairs instead of going down them. I have asthma & it was somewhat more difficult than I expected due to that, so keep that in mind! Other than that, it was enjoyable as I only passed a few people on the whole trail. When first starting the lower palisades section, it was pretty rocky which wouldn’t have been an issue but it’s been rainy recently so I found it to be slippery & a little harder to move quick over! Overall, very much enjoyed this 1.5 hour hike! I see that it says it’s only 3.8 miles but my fitbit got me at 4.8 miles so maybe I went wrong somewhere.

hiking
6 days ago

This was a great trail! A majority of the incline is at the beginning of the trail, but once you get past that it’s pretty easy. 99% of the trail is wooded and shaded. The overlook of the Kentucky River and the old bridge are absolutely worth it.

hiking
muddy
8 days ago

Great trail! Google maps doesn’t take you to the correct entrance. Once you drive over the Ky. River bridge there’s a gravel lot that you pull into. The trail is perfect as far as elevation, length, and sights to see. I will be back!

hiking
8 days ago

Wonderful hike..the scenery was great today and I went early enough to be the only one on the trail almost the entire distance. The trails are marked well and easy to follow. Hit all three to really get the entire experience.

hiking
muddy
9 days ago

went with my boyfriend and our daughter. it was beautiful shady and we enjoyed the day!

hiking
rocky
9 days ago

Awesome trail. We took our 4 year old nephew and 9 month old son and had a blast. Kid friendly, beautiful sights, little rocky but nothing too rough.

Wonderful spot! We loved hiking here today, Mother's Day, 2020. Great for kids! Ours are 12 and 3. Really well marked trails also!! We plan to return often.

21 days ago

Nice trail, especially since improvements and new trailhead. Easy to get to. No waterfalls, but access to view the river. I highly recommend veering off to the left to make the loop because of the very steep natural stairs, better to go down them than going upwards. This trail has never been busy when I've gone.

hiking
22 days ago

we went today, kids and I. About 5 miles for the whole loop. Lots of people today and parking was kind of full, we parked in the grass. This is a nice moderate hike. Good for kids. Great foliage and some neat trees.

One of my favorites in the area.

hiking
blowdown
bugs
muddy
over grown
rocky
22 days ago

hiking
rocky
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

This was a pretty great trail! The new trailhead is not reflected on AllTrails yet. If you are going south on 27, take your first right after the Kentucky River bridge. Also, the mileage and elevation are not up to date. The map on AllTrails appears to be of just the lower palisades. The upper palisades add quite a bit of mileage. I clocked in about 5. That being said, great hike overall! Beautiful walk through Kentucky’s woods. Nice wildflowers in the springtime. The trail leads you right to a sandy beach running along the Kentucky River (take the split off “Knight Ferry Trail”). The rock formations are pretty cool to see, and there’s a cave just across the river.

closed
1 month ago

To get to the new entrance, make a right turn immediately after Kentucky river on 27 south.

1 month ago

Nice trail but map needs updated. Since adding a new entrance, there are new trails and the signs to "Parking Lot" take you to the new lot so if you parked in the old lot don't follow them! We got a little ways down this new trail before I looked at the map and realized were not on the right path! Also, the Knights Trail is the one that takes you to the river. If you skip it you will miss some views...it is not the spur on the current map, not sure where that was.

hiking
1 month ago

We were really happy with this trail, especially during this COVID-19 distancing. Not too crowded and just rigorous enough for our fam’s ages (7 years-45 years). We enjoyed our hammocks at the midpoint by the river, so pack them if you are game!

Nice short hike would be nice if dogs could come.

hiking
2 months ago

None of the trails are marked very well. There were colors on trees to let you know you’re on a trail, but you have no idea which one you’re on.

Note: This recording starts and stops at the new trailhead (37.7619N, -84.61787W) which is the first right off of SR-27 after crossing the Kentucky River if you are coming from Lexington. Parking is minimal at this time but okay. Also note that if you are coming from the Danville direction, there is no turning into the parking area because of a median wall, so you must cross the river and make a u-turn and come back to the pull off. I have to give kudos to the Jessamine Trail Association for doing an excellent job of preparing the new trails that link the new parking to the original trail. There were a lot of fallen ash tree that they cut through and the new blazing is excellent. Blue blazes with a white owl mark the new section of the trail, red blazes mark the original sections of the trail and yellow blazes mark the Knight's Ferry Loop. If you get off trail here, you have no business in the woods. A great trail is now even better. Just a reminder, no pets are allowed in any of the nature preserves in the state of Kentucky. Personally, I don't care if dogs are on the trail. I do care when I have to navigate around dog poo in the middle of the trail. I saw a lot of signs of dogs traveling this trail.

hiking
flooded
muddy
3 months ago

Kentucky River is at its flood threshold, and you can’t complete the whole loop due to the trail being flooded. The water was pretty deep when I checked, so I elected to not attempt to cross. I knew this was a risk when coming, so, no biggie. Also muddy, but again, is expected given recent weather.

hiking
blowdown
bridge out
bugs
fee
icy
muddy
no shade
over grown
private property
rocky
scramble
snow
washed out
3 months ago

.lit.

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