Raven Run Nature Sanctuary offers trails for all hiking levels

Published 8:34 am Monday, October 3, 2016

Raven Run Nature Sanctuary sits tucked away along the Kentucky River. A short drive from Lexington, the 734-acre park offers winding trails, scenic overlooks and a brief escape from the bustle of city life.

Located amid the rolling hills and gentle woods of central Kentucky, Raven Run is a trail designed for novice hikers, runners and those looking to avoid the hour-long drive to the more advanced Red River Gorge. The best part: Raven Run is free for everyone.

The sanctuary has over 10 miles of trails that present outstanding vantage points of the Kentucky River, and offers hikers a chance to experience many diverse ecosystems.  Moderate in nature, the trail eases hikers in with a gentle decline down to a creek spanned with downed trees and littered with numerous waterfalls. Depending on the weather, the trail can vary from a leaf-strewn path to a muddy hodgepodge.

Hiker beware: well-worn shoes are recommended. 

A Nature Center sits at the entrance of the trails. Just a short walk from the parking lot, the center is home to several unique displays and exhibits. It also has restrooms and a mandatory sign-in post.

From there, hikers can choose one of two paths: They can take a short jaunt down to the red path, which funnels towards the Kentucky River overlook, or they can head in the opposite direction and take the green path through the meadow.  

Most people seem to take the direct route to the overlook and traverse the red path. With ancient stone walls, a slight, winding decline and a creek that parallels the trail, the red path is a nature lover’s paradise. The trees lining the trail creak in the breeze, and the chirping of the birds sing along with the trickle of the creek. 

Hikers with an adventurous spirit — and a disregard for the rules — can forgo the trail altogether and hop along the stones lining the shallow creek just prior to the overlook. People who decide to stay on the path, however, will find arched bridges and fallen logs.

Nearly halfway into the red path, hikers can walk down a steep set of stairs and make their way onto the boulders overlooking the meandering Kentucky River. With towering hills lining the river, the presence of modern life is almost nonexistent save for a few mansions spotted through the trees.

The view is cathartic for those looking for an opportunity to lose themselves in nature.

For some hikers, the overlook spells the end of their day. For others, the red trail continues around the sanctuary with shortcuts in the form of the yellow path and green path. Should you take the green path back to the Nature Center, the trail spits you out of the woods and into a sprawling, golden meadow.

The distance back to the Nature Center from there is just a short walk through the sunshine and swaying wildflowers.

In all, Raven Run is a beautiful and relaxing respite from the rigors of everyday life. Located just miles from Lexington, the sanctuary is family friendly with trails designed for any level of hiker.