The Kentucky River Palisades

For those who live between Danville and Lexington who want a rather quick hike that offers a good view and challenging terrain than here is one for you.  Tom Dorman State Nature Preserve off of Highway 27 just south of the bridge crossing the Kentucky River.  We (Scott Walker and myself) completed the roughly 2 mile hike in under 1.5 hours still taking time to take in the sights and venturing off on side trails.

The trail begins and ends on both sides of the parking lot as it is a loop.  Start on the right side of the parking lot the trail is a gentle downhill slope.  Some trail guides I have seen label this as a moderate trail and at the halfway point I was wondering why, but as they say what goes down must come up…..or something like that.  Anyway at the halfway point you come to the Knight’s Ferry Loop which will take you down beside the Kentucky River.  Normally I enjoy hiking in shorts but for this one I would recommend pants as the area down near the river was teeming with plant life and most of it rubbing against your legs as you walked.

Knight’s Ferry Loop takes you to the banks of the Kentucky River which offered some really good views of the towering ridges on the other side of the river.  A small sandy area provides the perfect place to stop and grab a snack although a trail of this length usually wouldn’t require it.  From this area we spotted a very large rock just sticking out in the water and decided to trudge over and investigate.  There was a small trail leading to the bank that would allow us to reach the rock, we followed it but as I was about 4 feet above the rock I underestimated how slick mud could be and landed right in the middle of the rock laying on my back.  Falling is not my preferred method of getting down river banks but it was definitely quick:)

Returning to the main trail we started our climb back to the top of the ridge.  Returning back to my statement of what goes down must come up….well go up we did and we did quickly.  In a few hundred yards you will climb a few hundred feet as you make your way back to the top.   Then we encountered a trail that was not on my original map, this section of the trail took us to the ridge top in about .25 miles.  This side trail is a small out and back that really doesn’t provide very much of a view but was an enjoyable stroll that saw us climbing on the way there and going downhill on the way back.

Upon returning to the parking lot you will see signs telling the history of the area and some other interesting facts about the trail as well as a register for hikers to put their name, date, and how many were with them.  Bring your own pencil if you want to sign it though as there was not one provided.  This trail was a good hike to be so close to home, I give it a 3 out of 5 and would consider it to be a trail of moderate difficulty.   So my tip for today is to not fall down river banks:).  Be safe and happy hiking.

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