Bluegrass Road Trips: The Asbury Trails – short hikes and sweet views

Published 7:51 am Thursday, March 23, 2017

I love anything that gets me outside and in the woods so when I went searching for a new hiking trail, I was pleasantly surprised to find The Asbury Trails.

Thanks to Asbury University, there are several scenic hiking trails located near Wilmore that are open to students, as well as the public. The area has a little more than two miles of trails that vary individually – the Great Wall Trail is the shortest at .25 miles while the Old Stage Road and Pump Station Road trails are .75 miles each.

The Asbury Trails are situated on the university farm – also known as The Palisades Farm – which borders the Kentucky River and includes about a mile of the Palisades. The area makes for a variety of unique scenery, from large Limestone cliffs to wooded, rocky trails and ravines.

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Since it was my first time exploring the trails, I grabbed copies of the informational brochures available at the head of the trails under the wooden pavilion. A map of the entire area shows each of the trails with historic features marked. A self-guided hike brochure is also available with tons of information about the geology and ecology of each trail.

The trails map also includes information about the trails such as elevation and terrain so hikers know what to expect before they head out.

I went left on the trail after walking through the entrance, which proved to be an enjoyable and fairly easy hike to an open meadow. From there, I traveled down toward the river and then to the right until I reached the Hillside Trail.

I consider the Hillside Trail to be a great happy medium between the shorter and longer trails and the half-mile hike is one that even the least experienced hikers could enjoy.

Unlike the Great Wall Trail, which can be steep and slippery in some places, the Hillside Trail is a much more laid-back hike as it travels through the woods, across a ravine and ends in a beautiful meadow. The top of the hill provides a beautiful, wide-open view of the valley and farmland below.

From the meadow, I looped back around and traveled past a field of horses near the equine center, following the trail all the way back to the entrance.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the Great Wall Trail, but I definitely plan to come back and give it a try. Pictures of the Limestone cliffs show breath-taking rock formations along the entire trail. According to the brochure, the rock at the bottom of the valley is the oldest exposed stone in the state. I would also like to explore the cave located near the river.

I love hiking — the longer I’m out there, the happier I am — but when you just don’t have the entire day to dedicate to an outdoor excursion, the Asbury Trails are an excellent, shorter hiking experience. There is plenty to see, smell and explore within the two miles of trails.

I chose to hit the trail on foot this time but I would love to return and explore the area on horseback, which is an option thanks to the Asbury University Equine Center. For more information about the Spring 2017 Trail Rides, visit

Road Trip Facts
— The Asbury Trails are located south of Wilmore on Highway 29. Turn right onto Shanty Hill Lane, .4 mile past the Lowry Lane stop sign and another .7 miles on Shanty Hill Road until you come to a sharp corner in the road. The farm gate is on the right with a designated gravel parking area on the other side.
— Trails are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in the spring and summer and from 8 a.m. to sunset October through March. No overnight use is permitted.
— For more information call the Science Department Office at (859) 858-3511 Ext. 2230.
— Asbury University’s website also includes information about the Asbury Trails.
— The trail type is called “out-and-back” which means they do not loop so you will have to turn around and travel back down the trail or use the service lane and gravel road to return.