The dogwood trees are blooming, the birds are chirping, and any forecasts of ice and snow are behind us. There’s no doubt that as the weather continues to get warmer, people will be looking for outdoor events and activities. Here are six ideas for making plans to enjoy the fresh air in Louisville this spring.
5 Ways to Spend Time Outdoors in Louisville This Spring
1. Give Back to the Community
Give A Day, the annual Mayor’s Week of Service, was cancelled last year due to COVID, but it is back and bigger than ever. The initiative was started in 2011 by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, in partnership with Metro United Way, as a week-long focus on community service. This year, Give A Day is set to run for the entire month of April, and Mayor Fischer is encouraging the community to give whatever they can, whether it’s an entire day or just an hour. The event has expanded year after year; what began with 800 acts of service in its first year grew to 235,000 in 2019. With a comprehensive list of volunteer activities — from cleaning a playground and planting flowers, to painting outdoor benches and more — there’s sure to be something to interest everyone. Volunteers are encouraged to report their service hours so Metro United Way can track the impact of the community’s acts of kindness and compassion. Explore the list of volunteer opportunities online at metrounitedway.org.
2. Take a Camping Trip
General Burnside Island State Park and Lake Cumberland are both well-known, frequently visited campsites. Though these Kentucky State Parks have been around for quite some time, they have recently undergone sewer and electric upgrades. New ADA sites have also been added to the campgrounds. These improvements increase both accessibility and comfort for campers and park visitors.
General Burnside Island State Park
8801 S. HWY 27, Burnside, KY 42519 • (606) 561-4104
General Burnside Island State Park reopened on March 15, providing visitors with a place to fish, boat, picnic, and enjoy the completely renovated 18-hole regulation golf course. The 6,394-yard course boasts zoysia fairways, large boulders and unique views. In 2009, it was dubbed the “Best Place to Play Golf” in Commonwealth Journal, and in 2016, it was named the first-place golf course in the Kentucky Living readers’ choice awards.
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park
5465 State Park Rd., Jamestown, KY 42629 • (270) 343-3111
Lake Cumberland State Resort Park’s 129 campsites with utility hookups are perfect for those who want the full outdoor experience. For more of a glamping-style trip, a 63-room lodge that overlooks Lake Cumberland provides full amenities, including wireless internet, an indoor pool complex, a restaurant and more. The park itself also offers miniature golf, geocaching, disc golf, picnic areas, playgrounds and tennis.
3. Spend a Day with Giants at Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest
2075 Clermont Rd., Clermont, KY 40110 • (502) 955-8512
Like many popular destinations around the Bluegrass State, Bernheim Arboretum and Research Forest closed temporarily amidst the pandemic. It later opened with limited capacity and pre-purchased tickets, and now, regular hours have resumed. Although the visitor center, education center, and café are still temporarily closed, hiking, fishing, and enjoying the forest’s 40-plus miles of trails is now possible seven days a week. Some of the must-see attractions include a four-acre edible garden, the canopy tree boardwalk, which is suspended 75 feet above the forest floor, and even an oversized exhibit of three forest-giant sculptures constructed of recycled local wood. The whimsical exhibition, “Forest Giants in a Giant Forest,” is a work of Danish artist Thomas Dambo and was added in 2019 for Bernheim’s 90th anniversary. Follow the signs to view Mama Loumari and her children Little Nis and Little Elina! Admission into the forest is free for members; a $10 donation per car is recommended for non-members.
4. Become One with Nature at Louisville Nature Center
3745 Illinois Ave., Louisville, KY 40213 • (502) 458-1328
The arrival of spring also brings an array of various hikes, workshops, and other activities at Louisville Nature Center. From Beginner Birding and Backyard Chickens 101, to plant identification workshops and night hikes, the 41 acres of urban forest offer an array of ways to experience nature. Also, Swallowtail Forest School for the littlest nature lovers, ages 3 to 5, has started up again. Most of the organized events incur a small fee and require prior registration, but admission to the Center itself is always free. Visitors can enjoy nearly two miles of public trails; a sensory garden full of plants and other natural features to see, touch, smell, and hear; a play area to capture little ones’ imaginations in nature; a bird blind, where birds at feeders can be viewed through one-way tinted glass; and a nature library for quiet reading and viewings of various terrarium specimens.
5. Discover Your Surroundings at Discovery Trail
Trailhead: 1200 Easter Blvd., Clarksville, IN 47129 • (812) 288-7155
Discovery Trail is a new $2 million multi-use trail that provides uninterrupted connections between Louisville and Southern Indiana. Constructed on an abandoned railroad corridor, the asphalt trail extends through Clarksville, IN, from Applegate Lane to Silver Creek, connecting with the Ohio River Greenway, and it also provides access to New Albany, Jeffersonville and Louisville. The ADA-accessible trail was completed in September 2020 and is open for public biking, hiking, and walking. It also connects to nearby neighborhoods and schools, as well as other popular trails, including Levee Trail, Heritage Trail, and Lewis and Clark Trail. A map of Discovery Trail, as well as its connecting trails, can be found at townofclarksville.com.
Here’s to your next great outdoor adventure!