Hiking Trails in Northern Kentucky | Complete Kentucky Hiking Guide

Hiking trails in Northern Kentucky. Who doesn’t love hiking? I absolutely love hiking and am always looking for the best places to hike.

Northern Kentucky offers some spectacular trails, some with breathtaking views, lovely waterfalls and we will list them all for you!

Hiking is a great way to spend your summer vacation, stay fit, and have fun. So let’s discover the best hiking in Kentucky!

The BEST Hiking Trails in Northern Kentucky

There are over 300-miles of exquisite hiking in the Kentucky State Park system alone. So you know there’s some beautiful treasures waiting for you!

These trails range from challenging terrain to short pet-and-family-friendly trails, so there is something for everyone.

Mountains are a key characteristic of hiking trails in Kentucky. Some spectacular overlooks and rock formations make up for it, however.

Expect exquisite views, gorgeous trees and wildflowers, and lovely wildlife.

Big Bone Lick State Historic Trails

BIG BONE LICK STATE PARK, KENTUCKY

If you’re looking for an adventure, look no further. This area offers 5 trails of varying difficulty, but there’s much, much more to do.

The 4.5-mile Discovery Trail will let you combine all 5 trails. It is paved, but the other trails aren’t.

You’ll pass through grassland into woody savanna and woodlands. There’s also salt-sulfur springs and viewing points for the bison.

Their favorite time of day is towards evening, when it’s cooler, so plan accordingly. This remarkable area has definite paleolithic vibes backed up with fossil finds in the area. And yes, like Bell’s Bend park in Franklin, everyone laughs at the name! It’s still worth the visit.

Activities available:
1. Meet a Bison herd
2. Camping
3. Explore the Museum
4. Bird watching
5. Miniture Golf
6. Playground
7. Swimming – check official website for more activities!

3380 Beaver Rd, Union, KY

Devou Park Overlook Loop

Sunrise over Cincinnati from Devou Park

This is a fantastic semi-urban hiking trail to enjoy. It’s also one of my favorite Cincinnati family hikes!

The overlook brings you amazing views of downtown Cincinnati, and the paths are paved. Most of the trail is a loop and spur with a lovely woodland vibe.

You can add to this easy trail with a bisecting connector trail, too.

1201 Park Dr, Covington, KY

Devou Park Central Loop

Devou Park Central Loop - Hiking Trails in Northern Kentucky

Another semi-urban trail. Expect well-maintained trails in staggeringly beautiful natural settings.

Wildflowers abound, and there’s both stream crossings and a few small waterfalls. It’s a lovely trail for winter, with towering icy cascades and a safe trail. Most trails are a moderate hike, and some do get a little muddy.

While your pupper can come on this 4.6-mile circuit with you, be aware of mountain bikers. Be ready to jump out the way!

1201 Park Dr, Covington, KY

Fort Thomas Landmark Tree Trail

Wooded stream in Cherokee Park, Louisville Kentucky - Hiking trails in Kentucky

Another short, but spectacular, loop that’s also pet-friendly. You’ll pass 14 notable trees, each over 100 years old.

It’s a beautiful walk in the fall. Although it’s only 1.1-miles, there’s moderately difficult terrain and some steep hills. It’s a favorite in the Northern Kentucky backpacking community for the quiet. It makes for a great family hike.

130 North Fort Thomas Avenue, Fort Thomas, KY 41075

Hartig Park and Wildlife Reserve

 

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You can drive up to the overlook here, but what’s the fun in that? The park covers 800 acres and is packed with fun trails. It’s a great area to spot deer, too. The camping is free and the views breathtaking.

5660, KY-1992, Warsaw, KY

Withrow Nature Preserve

 

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This is a hidden urban trail set everyone should experience.

Hike in the woodlands, spot butterflies, and enjoy small animal antics. It’s a short 1.8-mile trail in the ‘burbs. While it’s not paved, it has some gravel areas to help. It’s a moderate hike, but your dog can come too.

You know you need that furry four-legged support! It’s a nice transition between hiking trails in Northern Kentucky and those in Ohio, too.

7075 Five-mile Rd, Cincinnati, OH

Boone Cliffs State Nature Preserve

 

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This is 74 acres of natural beauty. The cliffs are small, but pretty. Walk in old woods and marvel at towering rock formations.

There’s plenty of fun and educational information along the route. Also, there’s plenty of overlooks to rest and enjoy the view.

The trail is marked by benches, for a cute touch. The perfect hike for those wanting a true old forest vibe. Pets can’t join you here, sadly. The family can, but the 2.4-miles of unpaved trails range from moderate to difficult.

The wildflowers are worth it, though. The fungi too, if that’s your thing.

4700 Middle Creek Rd, Burlington, KY

Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Lovers Leap Overlook within Natural Bridge State Resort Park of Kentucky - Hiking Trails in Kentucky

Battleship Rock Trail is the most popular trail in this park, coming in at 0.75-miles. There’s plenty of others to enjoy, however. The forest canopy is lush and the ridges razor-thin- but you won’t have to cross them! Let’s take a moment to thank the trail designers, no?

Two rugged stairways allow advanced hikers some extra challenge. You can also climb the top of the Natural Bridge arch for spectacular views. The staircase to the area does go through ‘the squeeze’, a narrow crack that’s slightly scary the first time.

Who are we kidding? It will still give you a thrill even as an experienced hiker.

2135 Natural Bridge Rd, Slade, KY

Licking River Greenway Loop

This is one of the gentlest Kentucky river hiking trails, and a hidden gem. Partially paved with dirt and gravel.

It follows the western banks of the river. You’ll often spot gorgeous wildflowers and other natural beauties. Bring the dog and have fun!

2234 Eastern Ave, Covington, KY

Middle Creek Park

 

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230 acres of immaculate forest await! Think free-roaming wildlife and tiny wildflowers. Trails are unpaved, but still pretty moderate.

You can also bring horses out here if you wish. It’s super easy, and the whole family can enjoy it. There’s even the ruins of some old houses in the area.

Kids are sure to love exploring. The park is surrounded by private land, so take caution in hunting season, however. It’s close enough to Dinsmore Woods to combine both trails in one day, but I advise doing them separately. The hiking trails in Northern Kentucky are far too beautiful to rush.

5655 Burlington Pike, Burlington, KY

Dinsmore Woods

 

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How does some spectacular unaltered old-growth forest sound? Hikers like you and I know that’s a rare treat. Especially when paired with a historic site like the Dinsmore Homestead. There’s a lot to explore here besides hiking. Learn about life in the early 1800s.

Explore the outbuildings, cemetery, and cabin as well as the homestead. And then head out to the trail. It’s unpaved, and a moderate to difficult trail. The wildlife and wildflowers are worth it, though. Come in spring for the best show. Kids are more than welcome.

5700 Burlington Pike, Burlington, KY

Breaks Interstate Park

 

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This on-leash pet-friendly loop trail covers 4.7-miles of natural beauty.

It’s a moderate trail, with the only remarkable bit the climb over time. You probably won’t notice it, though, so don’t be put off. It opens to the public between April and December. Littered with beautiful rock formations, it peaks at the local gorge.

While the title “the Grand Canyon of the South” is a little ambitious, it’s very beautiful. That’s because it straddles the interstate line between Virginia and Kentucky, bringing the best of both states.

627 Commission Cir, Breaks, VA

Daniel Boone National Forest

Hiking within the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky - Boone Cliffs State Nature Preserve

Time for some hiker-only beauty! Famous for the Double Arch Trail, which spans just under 4.5-miles. It’s a trail winding through hemlock forest (sounds more sinister than it is). Courthouse Rock gives one of the most spectacular overlooks on our list. Plus the arch, of course…but we won’t spoil that! I recommend it as a day hike, but you can camp in the park with a permit.

1700 Bypass Rd, London, KY

Highlands Cemetery

Highland Cemetery Hiking Trail.

Probably not your first thought when I said hiking, right? Yet there’s 5.2-miles of surprisingly gorgeous trails over the 150-acre cemetery. It’s super easy to get to and a lovely urban hike. The trailhead rises by the creek, and there’s benches on most routes, so it’s super easy. But the views are lovely and the tranquility complete. Truly a hidden gem. In fact, the entire surrounding Fort Wright Nature Center has some lovely trails, too

2167 Dixie Highway, Fort Mitchell, KY

Gunpowder Creek Nature Park

 

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You came for 1.2-miles of beautiful, unpaved trails. But you stayed for the creek! The hill to get to the trails is steep and gravel-packed, but the challenge is worth it. The trails are a little easier. There’s a lovely grassy section for a picnic. Just bring old shoes and a towel. The water is fun to splash in, so let your inner child out! Don’t forget to bring the whole family. We suggest visiting in April, but it’s gorgeous throughout the year.

6750 Sperti Ln, Burlington, KY

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park - Hiking Trails in Northern Kentucky

This is a hub for hiking trails in Northern Kentucky. There’s over 85-miles of gorgeous trail tucked away in the park. Pinnacle Trail, running for 7.8-miles and rising over 1,500 feet, is a can’t-miss. I would advise going in Fall for the riot of color. It’s open from April through October, however. The Cumberland Gap Overlook is just spectacular.

91 Bartlett Park Road, Middlesboro, KY

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary Trail

Overlook at Raven Run, KY - Hiking in Kentucky

If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-track, this isn’t it. It’s still worth it, however. Despite its popularity, this loop trail has remarkable views. It climbs a little over 500 feet to the Palisades Overlook. Fall is something very special on this trail, although it’s beautiful all year round. There’s shorter and easier tracks branching off the main trail. It’s family-friendly, but no pets, alas.

3885 Raven Run Wy, Lexington, KY

Red River Gorge Park

Scenic Overlook in Kentucky's Red River Gorge

While it’s best known for the ‘Indian Staircase’ trail, this is not for the faint of heart. In fact, even experienced hikers need to take a friend for safety. The staircase has a steep rise and there’s other danger points on the trail. The views are worth the challenge, however. It only covers 3.5-miles, but will easily need half a day due to the terrain.

3451 Sky Bridge Road Stanton, KY

Doe Run Lake Park

 

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These trails get closed to mud a lot. So plan for the dry season, and monitor the weather in the days beforehand. When it’s open, there’s 2.8-miles of looping trail around the lake. It’s small, but very pretty. Waterfalls are scarce on hiking trails in Northern Kentucky.

Not non-existent, however! You’ll find a cute man-made alternative on the Doe Run Falls Loop, however. Less advanced hikers should stick to the southern parts of the lake. The north offers a little more challenge.

1501 Bullock Pen Rd, Covington, KY

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Hiking trails in Kentucky - Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, Kentucky, USA.

The best-known trail here is the Eagle Falls Trail. It’s sometimes a little too well-known. As the only route to the exquisite Eagle Falls, it gets traffic. It’s short, sweet, and beautiful, though. With only 1.5-miles to cover, it’s also remarkably beginner-friendly, so great for mixed groups. There are steps, however.

7351 Highway 90, Corbin, KY

Conclusion

And there you have it! Each of these exquisite hiking trails in Northern Kentucky offers something a little different.

There’s one thing in common, however- the spectacular fun awaiting you! Now it’s time to strap on those hiking boots and get going. Where are you headed first?