Hunters Ferry Boat Ramp

To come up with which trail to spotlight every week, I listed all the locations we had information on in a spreadsheet, put a random number in an adjacent column, and did a sort on that column. We had three good hiking trail locations come up in the first three weeks, and are now getting to our first ‘water trail’ location. Only problem is, this is one of the last of our local paddling locations you should choose, so I’m going to talk more about water trails in general than this particular spot.

Until I started kayaking 8 years ago, I knew the Kentucky River was “down there” in the southern part of the county and only really saw it from up high as I crossed a bridge, or had limited views from some of the hiking trails along the palisades. Since then, I’ve paddled every one of the 45 river miles that are adjacent to Jessamine County, more miles in Woodford, Anderson, Franklin, Madison, Clark, and Fayette Counties, and many other rivers and lakes across the state. In my opinion, we are very lucky to have several of the best spots for paddling scenery in the state in our back yard, and very, very few people are taking advantage of it. No paddle trip can beat the several at Grayson Lake, but several locations here stand up well with any of the best spots on the Green, Cumberland, and Rockcastle Rivers. I consider several of these locations my local “go to” recreation spots. I can be on the water in 15 minutes from my house, paddle 6 miles out and 6 miles back and sometimes never see a soul on weekdays. And with 6 or so ramps within a 30 minute drive, I can paddle many more miles of public trail than I could find to hike within that same distance (if you leave out the 40 miles of trails at Shaker Village which are technically private). If you live in the area and aren’t considering paddling as one of your recreation activities, you are really missing out.

Now, back to Hunters Ferry Rd. The road itself pretty much just ends in the water. There was a parking lot of sorts the last time I was there, but its in the flood zone, so can be an awful spot at times. And I was never really comfortable leaving my car there – its so remote that it seems like a good place to dump a body, and I know there has been at least one left there. You can paddle downstream, but its really better to put in at the John Nickell Ramp and paddle upstream to this location. I’ve even seen the water company employees putting in at the John Nickell ramp to get up to the water intake instead of putting in here. If you go upstream from here, there are some small rock ledges and such, and Silver Creek is on the right, but has been blocked by deadfall pretty quickly the few times I’ve been there. Don’t remember much other scenery. You’ll run into the Nicholasville Water intake in 4.8 miles from the ramp, which is a good place to turn around, and you should get 10 miles in easily with a jaunt up Silver Creek. You might consider using the ramp across the river. Its a nicer ramp with good parking. Its on Poosey Ridge Rd in Madison County. Its just a long drive to get there.


-Don Perkins


What to say about Raven Run? I’m guessing its already the most well known hiking spot in the Lexington area and, judging by how many people I encountered the last few times I’ve been there, which has not been recently, and by how many photos I see posted on Facebook still, probably the most visited. You can go into Google Earth and see dozens and dozens of photos, and read a lot of reviews online. So there is not much left for me to say.

When I did visit, I almost exclusively did the Red Trail, and just a few others like down to Evans Mill, and the Overlook, so I’ve really only seen about half of it. Until I got the GIS files to make the map on the web site from a LFUCG planner, I never saw on the old trail map all of the trails there around the Prather House on the front part of the property. I guess the way those trails are considered part of the Meadow Trail even though they are separated by quite a distance, and are shown in green that they fade into the background on the map and are easy to miss. On our map, I’ve highlighted them in a different color and given it the Prather Trail name – it was distinct in their GIS files as well, so don’t know how it got merged into the Meadow Trail on the old trail map.

I do plan to go back in Spring and take some photos and hike some of the trails I haven’t been on. In the meantime, tell me about what I’ve missed.


-Don Perkins


This is another set of trails I only found out about by working on the JCTA web site. Its off of Shanty Hill Rd, which is right outside Wilmore off of KY29/High Bridge Rd. Shanty Hill Rd is kind of a hidden entrance so don’t miss it. As you pass through the three way stop at Lowry Lane coming out of Wilmore, the first right is a private drive, then Shanty Hill Ln is a one lane road on the right just up over the next little hill. There are signs there now. The Asbury Equine Center property is a short way down the road, where it takes a left – the entrance is well marked and is a right turn.

There is quite a variety here. You can stay on the short Hilltop trail for a fairly easy hike, or head down to the river for some surprisingly challenging trails. The trails up and down the 370ft elevation change are in only about 1/2 mile of travel. Once you are down at river level, the official Great Wall trail is only about a 0.4 miles round trip. Take the trail to the Spring/Cave for a real workout, and continue on the unofficial trail that continues on after the Great Wall Trail ends. Its hard to know exactly where it ends, but you’ll notice you have to do more scrambling and crouching to keep on the ‘trail.’ Because of the elevation change, you can get a good workout if you do all 2.6 miles of trails.

Another option is to do a combined paddle/hike. Put in at the Palisades Adventure Ramp just over in Mercer County just off US 68, and paddle up to dam 7, and on your way back, stop at the rock bar right at the Wilmore Water intake, walk up past the pumps and you’ll hit Pump Station Rd. Continue on the trail to the right, across the pedestrian bridge, and you’ll be at the Great Wall/Old Stage Road Trail intersection. That ends up being a nice 7 mile paddle, and up to a 1.5 mile hike without going up the hill, or you can go up the hill and do the whole 2.6 miles.


-Don Perkins

Hickman Creek

Happy New Year – My resolution is to post information on one area trail per week, both to expand on some of the information on the web site and see if we can gather more information or opinions from you about these locations. And maybe this will also help with some of the other typical resolutions people make each year about staying in shape. I hope I can keep my resolution longer than most.

This week’s trail is at Hickman Creek Nature Center. I only found out about the HCNC this year as a part of doing the web site project. I was warned about the gate usually being locked and to park on the side of the gravel drive. I’ll still do that if the gate is open because I’m paranoid about being locked in. I could not find a map or description of the HCNC trail online, so went out to just hike it with my GPS logger. There were (and I assume are) no signs or kiosks to indicate where the trail started nor a map, so I wandered around for awhile. As usually happens, I picked the wrong direction and just headed out straight behind the conference center. The trail actually starts over to the left of the garage. I ended up finding the correct trail, and if you go counterclockwise, it heads down close to Hickman Creek for some nice creek views, then up around several fields on a mowed path except for one section on a road/trail through a section of woods. There are several nice views of the barns and the palisade on Hickman Creek along the way. I got home and found my GPS logger hadn’t found an initial location until I was over halfway through the hike, so I had to go out and do it again.

This time, it surprised me when I went closer down to the creek to the last blaze and happened to look to the left and saw more blazes going up the bank on what didn’t even look like a trail for awhile. It headed steeply to an overlook of Hickman Creek and to the top of a small hill. I followed it around and it eventually follows an old road around the back of the property. Its pretty well marked with blazes. Not as many sweeping vistas, but a more wooded, isolated hike. So, there ended up being two loop trails, one of which no one told me about.

Overall, a nice combo of trails since they are each quite different. A good 2.5 miles if you do both loops. Not much elevation change except where the one trail climbs up above Hickman Creek. I like to combine them with some other trails to get more mileage in, especially something like Jessamine Creek Gorge’s 2.2 miles. You may want to print the map from the web site and take with you since there may be no information or signs on site.

If anyone has any more information on these trails, let me know. I just labeled the inner loop as the Meadow Trail and the outer loop as the Woodland Trail. Not sure what the trail builders/maintenance people at HCSC intended or call these.


-Don Perkins