“In all the history of mankind, only one generation will be first to explore the Solar System,” wrote Carl Sagan. And while the universe and space travel is beyond most of us, we are the first generation to explore The Parklands. Pretty nifty, eh? So, here is why you should go experience the new Wild Hyacinth Trail in Turkey Run Park “first” in the dead of winter.
Earlier this month, I put on my Park Director hat and shuffled out into the cold to check out this brand new, hike-only trail. True to my expectations, we have a couple muddy spots to address at the entry (and we will), but 95% of the trail is perfect for winter walking thanks to its alignment on a quick drying, southern facing slope. Wear boots though–you’ll need them.
As I walked the trail from the Ben Stout House to the Louisville Loop, I was struck by the fact that I was breathing quite hard after a quarter-mile of hoofing it. This is a statement of two things. First, I ate too much over the holidays. Second, the trail’s difficulty is precisely as we intended. It’s moderately tough. If you don’t have a lot of time, but you want to get into the woods and get your heart rate moving up, this trail does it.
After passing under transmission lines, the trail sweeps you up into a world of limestone shelves, waterfalls, and overlooks of Turkey Run. This is our longest trail that parallels a small stream. With the leaves off in winter, this is a great way to see Turkey Run as it winds along the valley floor. Take time to check out the stream bed for signs of life because you have a great opportunity here to sneak up on critters without them knowing you are present. From woodpeckers and squirrels, to raccoons and opossums, Turkey Run is a very active forest in the winter months.
On my way back down the trail, I had the neat experience of having a flock of Sandhill cranes pass overheard. The flock was around 75-100 birds in size, and quite a ways up, but they were close enough to be heard and seen in the woods. This proved to be quite the moment for me because wildlife occurrences like this can be fleeting in a large city like ours. Listening to birds that have been migrating along the same routes for tens of thousands of years reminded me that our generation still has the ability and access to special places and special moments of a timeless nature.
I hope you get a chance to break out this winter and get to a quiet place in The Parklands to experience a special moment or two in this wild and wonderful place we call the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. The things you see, feel, smell, touch, and experience outdoors, particularly in the crisp winter air, make for long-lasting memories.
If you want to experience the heart and soul of Turkey Run’s forest, the defining experience of Turkey Run Park, but don’t have a couple of hours to spare for the Louisville Loop, the Wild Hyacinth Trail offers you a way to get a quick hike in on a cold morning or afternoon. I’d say you can go up to the Louisville Loop and back to Ben Stout House parking lot on the Wild Hyacinth Trail in about 30 minutes. It’s a nice way to catch some winter magic.
Scott served as the Parks Director for The Parklands of Floyds Fork from 2010 to 2017. Tasked with operating the park, Scott served as member of the leadership team that sought to reapply the metropolitan planning and development lessons of Fredrick Law Olmsted in the new century with the wrinkle of the new model being a private/public partnership. Scott joined The Parklands team in 2010 after serving eight years as the Director of Commerce & Leisure Services in Franklin County, VA. In this capacity, he was part of the County’s leadership team overseeing economic development, parks & recreation, tourism, and pilot open space conservation programs. Prior to Franklin County, Scott spent five years working for the Boise (Idaho) Parks and Recreation Department as the Coordinator of Partnerships during which time he provided staff support and conservation planning for the successful $10 million Foothills Open Space Serial Levy campaign that has preserved over 9,000 acres of land to date. Scott holds a MPA (Natural Resource and Environmental Policy with honors) and BA (Political Science) from Boise State University. Scott and his wife spend their free time kayaking, camping, and hiking.
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