Jefferson Memorial Forest
Did you know that Louisville is home to the nation’s largest municipal urban forest? The Jefferson Memorial Forest is a great addition to the Louisville Metro Parks. Over 6,400 acres of hardwood trees await your exploration. The park spans ten miles from east to west. The Jefferson Memorial Forest was named as a tribute to all Kentucky Veterans. With spring just around the corner, now is the perfect time to spend at day at the park.
Hikers can enjoy over thirty five miles of trails to hike and bike throughout the park. Eleven miles are available for equestrian use. The park is a favorite local spot for horseback riding. Two trails are handicap accessible. Hiking trials range in length from approximately half a mile to over six miles long. Pick your terrain and length, then be prepared to enjoy scenic trails and small streams. Be on the lookout for wildlife, including deer, bobcats, red foxes, horned owls or great blue herons. Many trails offer beautiful views of downtown Louisville. The Jefferson Memorial Forest website offers tips and rules to follow when hitting their trails.
If you enjoy a relaxing day on the bank fishing, bring your rod and bait. The five and a half acre Tom Wallace Lake is stocked with bluegill, trout and catfish. The lake also has a large fishing dock. The adjacent Tom Wallace Recreation Area has handicap accessible facilities. Six trails start in this area that include a range of difficulty. If you don’t own a fishing pole, visit the Welcome Center to rent one. The Welcome Center is located next to this area. Stop by to pick up trail maps and hiking supplies. A gift shop includes souvenirs and nature books. The Welcome Center is open Monday – Saturday from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. and on Sundays from 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Jefferson Memorial Forest offers a secluded tent camping area for its visitors. There are seven family sites available. Features include picnic tables, fire rings, lantern posts, water and parking. The individual sites are in a wooded area and are nicely spaced apart. Family sites are $15.00 per night. Groups are also welcome, as four group sites are available. Group sites are $30.00 per night. Camping areas are located close to hiking and trails in the Horine Reservation near the uplands of the forest.
A variety of programs are offered throughout the year at the Jefferson Memorial Forest. Team and community building, ECHO events, field trips, summer camps and night hikes are currently on their calendar. Night Climbing is scheduled for this coming Friday, March 21st from 7:00 to 10:00 p.m. Attendees will tackle a 52 foot climbing wall in the dark. No experience is necessary, as climbers will learn basic climbing skills and belaying techniques. You must be ten years or older to participate in this event. Pre-registration is required by Thursday March 20th. Climbers should wear tennis shoes and longer shorts or pants. If you own a headlamp, bring it! There is a fee of $10.00 to climb. The climbing tower is located in the Horine section of the forest.
The Jefferson Memorial Forest is located at 11311 Mitchel Hill Rd. in Fairdale. Located approximately fifteen minutes from downtown, this Louisville Metro Park is definitely worth checking out this spring! Pack a picnic, grab your hiking boots and binoculars and come ready to explore Louisville’s own piece of nature.