There are few sights more spectacular than the changing of the colors of the leaves in the fall. And they are finally beginning to do just that. What a great time to get outside and observe the beauty of our state and get some physical activity too and what better place to see those colors than in our state parks?
We are blessed to have four state parks within easy driving distance — Barkley, Pennyrile, Kentucky Dam Village and Kenlake State Park; one recreational park — Mineral Mounds in Eddyville; and one historical site — Jefferson Davis in Fairview.
In the state of Kentucky, we have 52 state parks. Each state park offers a different view of the treasures in our state. There are more than 300 miles of trails and they are for all types of hikers. There are easy and moderate trails; Pennyrile alone has eight trails ranging from 0.1 mile in length to 13.5 miles. There are also many choices for those with more hiking experience, such as the 28-mile trail at the Pine Mountain Trail State Park, known for strenuous climbs and breathtaking views.
Just as with walking, hiking can help in weight loss goals. It can help decrease blood pressure and improve bone strength. Hiking is something that every age group can participate in, and because there is so much to see while you are on a trail, it is sure to be entertaining.
If you have a family on hike, have a mini scavenger hunt to find different items along the trail. For the more tech savvy, have a digital scavenger hunt and take pictures of all the different wildlife you will see.
Whichever trail you choose, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Follow all written and posted trail rules — they are there to help keep you safe.
- Do not hike alone. Always have someone with you.
- Take plenty of water. Even if it is cool outside, your body still needs fluids.
- Know the level of the trail and be aware of your ability to hike it. If you have not been physically active in a while, take an easy hike.
- Wear good socks and shoes. Good shoes or boots with socks will help avoid blistering.
- Dress in layers. You never know what the weather will be this time of year. Wear a few layers that you can take off if you get hot, or put on if you get chilly.
- Let others know where you are going and when you expect to return. You may not get cellphone reception. If you are not back when you should be, someone can alert the park staff.
When you are out on the trails please keep the following in mind:
- Take your time.
- Be careful when hiking up and down hills, especially if they are covered in gravel or lose dirt.
- Watch your step if you are crossing a stream. Rocks in the stream can be very slippery.
- Do not leave trash behind.
To enjoy the beauty at a state park, and get exercise while you are doing it, find a state park you would like to visit. A list of parks and what they offer is available online at the Kentucky State Parks Web page at http://parks.ky.gov/
And if that isn’t enough hiking for you, there are over 200 miles of trails and abandoned roads that meander through the backwoods, fields and alongside peaceful lakeshores in Land Between the Lakes. You can find that information at www.explorekentuckylake.com/lbl/hiking.htm.
MARSHA O. PARKER is the Christian County extension agent for family and consumer sciences. She can be reached at 270-886-6328.